Palm 3 World Station

Palm 3 World Station. 20 x 80 x 150 feet. Wood, metal, found materials and objects, light, smoke, live plants. photo: Heinz Kobernik

Simón Vega’s Third World space station is the largest sculpture in his Tropical Space Proyectos series commenting on the effects of the Cold War in Central America through his ironic and humorous views on the Space Race. Palm-3 World Station represents his interest in catastrophe-escaping space vehicles as well as his concern about who will be left behind. The sculpture, based on the Soviet space station Mir, is 150 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 50 feet tall. It has 30 modules containing all the trappings of shanty towns in his native El Salvador: mini marts, pupuserias, apartments with TVs left on, clothing lines, flickering lights, hissing gas lines, sirens, and people in “happy poverty.” These materials and motifs draw a sharp contrast to the technology of space and punctuate the economic inequality and effects of a polarized society.

    Palm 3 WS is closely based on the Soviet Space Program s MIR Space Station and its seven original modules (below):

photo: Goldenvoice.

  MIR is a complex Russian word that can be translated as "world", "peace" and "village". To create a global peace village addresses my concerns with futurism, new communities and the contemporary concept of utopia|dystopia in a colorful, shabby and tropical way, inspired in Centralamerican informal housing, street markets and shantytowns.

    Afternoon in the Valley of Coachella. Interior and exterior light by Felix Lighting.

The process for building this 150 feet long and 40 feet high sculpture took over 6 months in research, design and planning, while the construction itself was carried out in approximately 4 months with over 10 workers at all times and a total crew of over 40 construction workers and specialists.
  The huge amount of materials needed for this monumental sculpture were mostly gathered from junkyards in the Coachella Valley as well as new and aged corrugated metal sheets. To furnish the tienda, the Mini Super and the corner hardware store specific materials were shipped from El Salvador,
    Above; original concept drawink. Ink on Mylar.2017
    Infrarred photos;:@watcharaphoto
    All photography Heinz Kobernik, except where noted.
photo; Goldenvoice

Tropical Space Proyectos presents: Third World Spaceships. Hilger Brot Kunsthalle, Vienna. May 4th - July 4th, 2017.

  For his second solo exhibition in Vienna, salvadorean artist Simón Vega presents works from "Tropical Space Proyectos" (2011-ongoing), a series of sculptural objects, installations, photographs and drawings which comment, through an ironic and humorous take on the Space Race, on the effects of the Cold War in Central America. This new series of work also show a growing concern for spaceships and space stations as models for catastrophe-escaping vehicles and dystopian architecture.
In this series of works, the highly technological space capsules and rockets are turned into buildings and modular apartments, they are rendered as maquettes using materials and methods of construction inspired in the informal architecture and street vendor stands found in the beaches and coastal area of El Salvador, where the artist lives.
Dreams of escape through sophisticated technologies and spaceships are harnessed by the extreme poverty and harsh post-colonialism found in Central América, but are, on the other hand, propelled by the resilience, humor and creativity of the local culture.

    "Installation view, "Third World Spaceships". Hiller Brot Kunsthalle, Vienna.

Installation view with "Saturn Dancing Rocket" on the foreground 
and "Tropical Mercury Capsule Rug" on the background.

                      Installation view with "Saturn Home Capsule" on the foreground and 
             "Apulo Beach Rover Minutas" on the background right.

    “Apulo IV” Tropical Camping"
Acrylic and acrylic marker on canvas 90 x 90 cms.

  "Vostok Driftwood Rocket", Wood, cloth, yute, driftwood, light, found materials.
   350 x 120 cms. Ø. 2017 on the left and "Vostok Home Capsule" on the foreground.

    Apolo Burguers & Choris
Acrylic and acrylic marker on canvas 140 x 150 cms.

  Installation of twin canvases "Space Race DJs" (above)
  Space Race DJ.
Acrylic and acrylic marker on canvas 109 x 138 cms.2017

  Above:"Third World Rockets", ink and collage on paper,104 x 104 cms. 2016.

    "Mosquito Beach Hostal". 
Acrylic and acrylic marker on canvas 110 x 110 cms.2015

    Installation view, Hilger Brot Kunsthalle.

simón vega

Simón Vega creates drawings, objects, sculptural installations and happenings inspired in the self-made informal architecture, local markets’ stands and vendor carts found in the streets and beaches of Central America. These works, assembled with wood, cardboard, plastic, metal and found materials include transmutable elements, colored lights and live plants and parody Mayan pyramids, Modernism's iconic buildings and contemporary surveillance systems, creating an ironic and humorous fusion between first and third worlds. 
In other works, sophisticated capsules and satellites developed by NASA and the Soviet Space Program during the Space Race are reconstructed in a similar fashion and comment on the effects of the Cold War in contemporary El Salvador.
Born in El Salvador in 1972, Simón Vega graduated in Fine Arts at the University of Veracruz in Mexico in 2000 and received a Master´s degree in Contemporary Arts from the Complutense University in Madrid in 2006.
He has exhibited his work extensively in Europe, the United States and Latin America, including the Pérez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM), the 55th Venice Biennial in Italy (2013), the IX Havana Biennial, in Cuba (2006), the Museo del Barrio's "The S-Files" in New York (2011) and at the Hilger Brot Kunsthalle in Vienna, Austria (2010-2017) amongst others. The Museum of Contemporary Art & Design of Costa Rica (MADC), presented his first museum solo show on November 2016. His work is included in important public and private collections such as the Pérez Art Museum of Miami, Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de Costa Rica, the Sanziany Collection at Rasumofsky Palace in Vienna and El Museo del Barrio in New York. He lives in La Libertad, El Salvador. 


Tropical Space Proyectos

Tropical Space Proyectos is a series of objects, sculptural installations, drawings and photographs which are inspired in the space rockets and capsules from the "Space Race". These works deal with the effects of the Cold War in El Salvador and Central America, confronting the distance and polarization between First and Third Worlds through playful sculptures.
The "Space Race" which saw a head on confrontation between the Soviet Union and The United States of America and which developed during the 1950s - 80s saw both superpowers engage in a military power confrontation, disguised as a scientific and technological competition for world supremacy, one that was also played in smaller and suddenly significant scenarios like El Salvador, which developed a 12 year long civil war, dismissed by the US and USSR as "Proxy Wars".
These capsules, the first of which was Sputnik (both in the Space Race and in these series of works) are parodies, wannabe spacecrafts, forced and playful fusion of opposites: out of this world technology recreated with materials and methods of construction that come from informal architecture. They portray Central America as a region with dreams of technological progress and modernity that is caught in it's own cultural, social and economic limitations, however, one that is not devoid of humor and creativity. These works speak of Central American history and its relation to World and Space exploration history but on another level, they also speak of human isolation and how on today's highly technological societies despite the illusion of social interaction by means of digital technology. 

Sputnik Z-011. Object. 59 cms. Ø + crash landing track. El Zonte Beach, El Salvador. 2011 

 Sputnik Z-011. Installed at El Zonte Beach, La Libertad, El Salvador. 2011

Sputnik Z011. Project Sketch. Graphite on paper. 2011. Courtesy: Galerie Ernst Hilger
Sputnik Z-011. Object. 59 cms. Ø x 200 cms. Found materials. 2011. Installation at MARTE Museum, El Salvador.

Tropical Mercury Capsule. Project sketch. Graphite on paper. 18 x 26 cms. 2012
Tropical Mercury Capsule. Wood, metal roofing sheets, T.V. light, found materials. 180 cms. Ø x 290 cms. 2012. Installation at MARTE Museum, San Salvador, El Salvador (2012-2013)

Tropical Mercury Capsule
Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) Permanent Collection, gift of Mario Cader Frech and Robert Wennet

Installation at PAMM for the show Global Positioning Systems, curated by René Morales. 2014-2015

Tropical Mercury Capsule, Cockpit (detail)

Korabl-Sputnik. Project study for Third World Sputnik. Crayon on paper. 50 x 70 cms. 2013. courtesy: Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna.

Third World Sputnik. Metal frame, cloth, plastic, light, T.V. sound, cut aluminum cans, found objects. 140 cms. Ø x 240 cms.
 Installation at the 55th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy, 2013

Third World Sputnik. Capsule detail.

Third World Sputnik. Capsule interior (cockpit)
Sputnik NY-Z. Object. 120 cms. Ø x crash landing track. Metal, plastic, found wood, aluminum, found materials. 
Installation at Socrates Sculpture Park for El Museo del Barrio's "The S-Files" Biennial, New York. 2012

Monument to the Third World International. Stools, ladder, discarded wood, paper, plastic, found objects. 2011
Installation at Arlington Arts Center, Virginia, USA.

                               Trash Wars

    Imperial Slum Ship
    Wood, cardboard, plastic, roofing sheets, found materials, light
    140 x 200 x 500 cms.
    2013. Installation at Edificio La Naviera for the 43rd International Artist Salon, Medellín, Colombia

     Imperium Slum Ship Vienna
    Wood, cardboard, plastic, found materials, light
    120 x 120 x 250cms. + track
    2013. Installation at Hilger Next Gallery, Vienna, Austria

Trash Wars is a series of sculptures, drawings and a print portfolio that is based on the science fiction saga "Star Wars". These works parody the immense and futuristic space ships and vehicles that represent the technological and military power of the dark, fascist Galactic Empire. in this case however the Empire is that of the Third World. These works portray, in a humorous way, the disproportioned fear and apprehension that some citizens of Europe and the United States feel towards their southerly and extremely poor neighboring nations. The works confront issues of exploitation, post-colonization, migration and intolerance.

Above: Trash Wars Print Portfolio

Boxed set of six prints, limited edition of 50
produced by Imprenta Carini, Italy for Galerie Hilger Next, Vienna, Austria