Minerva Cuevas

Minerva Cuevas, Del Montte, 2003. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Minerva Cuevas, Del Montte, 2003. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Minerva Cuevas creates socially and politically engaged interventions, performances, video and photographic works that frequently draw on extensive periods of research. With subtly disruptive gestures, her work mimics – in order to subvert – existing corporate and governmental structures. The ongoing Mejor Vida Corp (Better Life Corporation), for example, is a not-for-profit corporation offering free products and services such as subway passes, student ID cards, recommendation letters and lottery tickets. In a systematic act of subversion, Mejor Vida Corp ‘touches’ the dominant models of trade and exchange with gestures of exchange, solidarity and sabotage. In more recent work, the artist’s research has led her to investigate alternative trading systems, the oil industry in Mexico and the concept of social ecology

For Cuevas’s presentation in Re: Thinking Trade, colourful billboard-style murals formed a backdrop to an arrangement of objects, archival documentation and research materials. These extend the artist’s Del Montte campaign, a major ongoing series of works that references events in South America’s recent political history and the privatisation and misuse of the world’s natural resources. Various iterations of this series of works have been staged at a number of exhibition venues internationally. In this instance, Cuevas related the work to the specific context of Liverpool. With a series of graphic prints that originated in research conducted at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, she connected the display to the city’s former trading networks. In particular, she highlighted its extensive links with South American countries.

Situated in a former hardware store’s suite of empty window display cases, the work was embedded in the heart of the city, taking place on its streets, for its passers-by and within its commercial networks. And yet the installation defamiliarised the commonplace urban experience. While at first sight nothing seems amiss in this routine display of commercialised goods, closer inspection reveals a subtle reappropriation of branding codes. At the heart of the work lies a pointed commentary on the communication strategies of corporate businesses and the unethical behaviours of large-scale global enterprises.

Minerva Cuevas at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Del Montte
, 2003

Mixed-media installation 
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street