Under the Sun I
Photograph in the room Smile, You are in Spain
The present set photograph was part of a mock campaign produced by the artist for an exhibition at Madragoa gallery, Lisbon, in 2017, titled Smile You are in Spain. Smile! You Are in Spain is the slogan of a well-known, five year-long advertising campaign launched in 2004 to promote tourism in Spain. It captioned photographs of young people enjoying Spain, surrounded by sunny landscapes, at unspoiled beaches or in front of iconic monuments, immersed in an inviting atmosphere suitable for culture, leisure and sports. For Matos, the aim of such campaign is always to convey an image of an ultimate tourist destination, an earthly paradise, and in this case, the land of sun and fiesta. Such conservative campaigning, which put an emphasis on a slow-paced and pleasant lifestyle, succeeded in capturing the stereotypes and clichés traditionally associated with the country, nurturing this appealing, peculiar image of Spanish vitality and cheerfulness in the minds of potential tourists. However, throughout the years of the campaign, and after more than a decade of sustained economic growth, Spain was badly affected by the global financial crisis of 2008; while promoting such an ideally positive take of Spain under Juan Miró’s sunny emblem, the country was inwardly succumbing to a profound and severe economic downturn. Luís Lázaro Matos uses this well-known campaign to inform a project which intends to look at how clichés on countries and their culture become promotional commodities and how landscape, traditions, populations and art are rendered simple and ready to use by the consumer. In the present photograph, Matos models on the beach as he is holding a reproduction of Edvard Munch’s famous figure of the scream – hereby emphasising the tension between the formal appearance of fun imagery produced by the campaign with an underlying message about the country’s state of anxiety.