Tropicalounge tells a complex tale layered with history, fantasy, philosophy, and the experience of everyday life in Brazil.
Sergio Vega is the sixth artist to be featured in Momentum, an exhibition devoted to new developments in contemporary art. Born in Argentina, and now based in Florida, Vega is known for an ongoing mixed-media project entitled Paradise in the New World, exploring the mythologies of paradise underlying the culture and history of Brazil.
For Momentum 6, Vega presents Tropicalounge, a room-scale installation inspired by a 17th-century colonial manuscript purporting to map the “New Eden” of South America. Seeking to discover this place for himself, Vega arrived at the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, a region comprised of rainforests, swamps, mountains, archaeological sites, indigenous reservations, rural towns, shanty-towns, and cities. The history, culture, and mythology of this area-or rather, his imagination of them-are source material for Vega, who presents a sort of travel diary exploring the site through installation, sculpture, photography, video, and text.
At the ICA, Vega combines elements of the Tropicalounge that premiered at the 2005 Venice Biennale-brightly colored furniture, potted palms, photographs, architectural models, and sculpture-with work made especially for the ICA. While adopting the role of anthropologist or ethnographer, Vega acknowledges the fantasy and mythology that affects our understanding of a foreign place, especially one imagined as “paradise found.”