PARADISE/PARASITE, SOLD/STOLEN and an image of the slave column at the former Curaçaoan plantation Zorgvlied transposed by a handmade drawing of a Coca Cola commercial. These works of art by Kalle Mattsson are posted on three Curaçaoan bill boards as of today.

Mattsson, a resident at Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) during the second quarter of 2010, stages this intervention in Curaçaoan public space, inviting Curaçaoans to regard their surroundings more critically. The artist wants to draw attention to the invasion of commercialism in the public space as well as the link between commercialism and modern day colonialism. “In our time, colonialism has been taking over by commercial rather than national powers”, says Mattsson.

Using a bill board to criticize the advertising industry, as well as capitalist society at large, SOLD/STOLEN is an indictment of the manner in which commercial messages demand our attention in the public space. The two words are graphically intertwined, to emphasize their symbiotic relationship. “The advertising company buys space on the bill board, but what’s actually sold, or rather stolen, is a piece of the mind and energy of the person actually looking at it”, says Mattsson. He points out that bill boards are so large passers-by can hardly escape them, while they never ask to be presented with information which subsequently claims space in their brain and affects their thinking.

In a similar vein, PARADISE/PARASITE draws attention to the manner in which Caribbean islands are presented as ‘paradise’ to tourists, while these same visitors may act as parasites on the natural resources and identity of the island. The artist also refers to multi-national companies taking over large parts of the economy, in turn affecting daily live on the island. “Curaçao could be a paradise, if it wasn’t for all the parasites, past and present, who mine the island purely for commercial profit”, says Mattsson.

The most powerful work depicts the column at Zorgvlied, where African-Curaçaoans used to be tortured during slavery, transposed by a hand drawn image of a commercial, including the text: Enjoy Coca Cola. To Mattsson, joining these to images speaks to Curacao’s more vulnerable position in the onslaught of commercialism. Mattsson: “With a legacy of colonialism and slavery, a society might be more easily affected by modern day colonialism by large commercial interests. The fact that the Coca Cola commercial was tagged on a wall shows that people are so indoctrinated, they think it’s cool to copy a commercial.”

The graphic designer, who has been born and raised in Sweden and currently lives and works in Amsterdam, arrived on Curacao in April for a three month residency at IBB. The bill board intervention is part of his work on the island, which he presented to the public last week at IBB.

The bill boards can be found at the following locations:

SOLD/STOLEN : Jan Noorduynweg @ traffic lights going to F.D. Rooseveltweg/ Winston Churchillweg

PARADISE/PARASITE: F.D Rooseveltweg, from Hato going to Sta. Maria

COCA COLA @ ZORGVLIED: F.D. Rooseveltweg, from Palu Blanku going to Sta. Maria

Mattsson can be reached for interviews or comments at or cell 515 7291 until Thursday, July 8th.
After that he has left the island, and can only be reached by email.