Repurposing Commodities: The Role of Consumption in Latin American Pop Art

Anna Maria Maolino, Gulp Gulp Gulp, 1967

This section of the exhibit features works that address the nature of consumerism in Latin America. Latin American Pop Art challenged the capitalist system, and the works selected do so by focusing on the differences in commodity consumption between the United States and Latin America. Pop Art in the United States typically associated consumption with optimism, political neutrality, and a positive view of the U.S. way of life. U.S. consumers often were ignorant about the processes that provided them with the commodities they consumed. In Latin America, however, consumerism had a different significance. Because the consumer products used in Latin America were usually imported from hegemonic centers, local notions of consumerism often reinforced the region’s subordination. This section illuminates the implications of consumerism in Latin America, and demonstrates how artists transformed commodities in order to put power back in Latin American hands. The use of found objects, collage, and icons of imperialism were especially important in representing commodities and manipulating them to reflect a period of social and cultural transformation. Overall, the depiction of consumerism reveals the non-neutral and controversial nature of Latin American Pop Art.

Image: Anna Maria Maolino, Gulp Gulp Gulp, 1967