October 2019 to December 2019.
The first part of Brazilian artist Ismael Monticelli´s residency project at La Becque, «Do not ever forget that I come from the tropics», addressed the story of Carl Seidler, a 17-year-old Swiss-German traveler who arrived in Brazil in 1826.
Carl was hired by the Brazilian Imperial Army to fight in the Cisplatina War. He spent ten years in the country and was unsuccessful in his goals. Then he returned to Europe and wrote a book about Brazil telling the story of a country immersed between dream and disillusionment. In some moments he exalts the exuberance of the landscapes. At other, he fiercely criticizes the culture, politics, and above all, the people.
Counterbalancing this narrative, during his three months residency at La Becque, Ismael Monticelli posted on his Instagram account a visual diary of a Brazilian traveler in Switzerland. The images were made by the artist, but the subtitles were all from Seidler’s book about Brazil. The question that is placed in this procedure is: how to return Carl Seidler’s narrative to Europe?
The second part of the project consisted of building an installation in his studio at La Becque. This installation was elaborated from how Brazil and South America knew and appropriated one of the most famous Swiss characters: William Tell. Tell’s legend was introduced to kids and young people in general through a program called Chapulín Colorado. Chapulín Colorado is a Mexican television series, created in 1970, that mocked US superheroes and consistently made social criticisms of South America. It tells the story of a bumbling fool hero, with no money, no resources, and no superpowers. In Brazil, the legend of Tell is also known due to the Swiss immigrant colony that settled in the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1819, founding the city of Nova Friburgo. In this city, there is a Swiss cheese factory with a large monument dedicated to William Tell.
Using footage from Chapulín Colorado, wooden scraps from the La Becque workshops and bananas, Monticelli’s maze-like installation drives the viewer through an anecdote of the usually blurry and stereotyped way the relations between European and South American countries are built, questioning how far the construction and significance of myths today have to do with old impressions that constantly demands change.