Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation

Cultural Critique in Latin America

Colombian conceptual artist Antonio Caro’s national award-winning Colombia (1976) applied its trademark red and Spencerian script to the country’s name suggesting the entanglement of state and global capitalism. Rubén Gámez’s surrealistic film, La fórmula secreta, o Coca-Cola en la sangre (1964), which won Mexico’s first experimental film festival, directly parodied the pop sensibilities of 1950s/60s televisual style and represented Mexican passivity to U.S. power through the repeated image of a patient receiving an intravenous transfusion of Coca-Cola.

Brazilian Cildo Meireles’s “Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project” (1970) attempted to “short circuit” the Coca-Cola system by adding political statements to actual glass Coca-Cola bottles and returning them into circulation.  Thus, once refilled, Coke bottles read “Yankees Go Home” or instructions for turning the bottle into a Molotov cocktail. As a call to oppose both U.S. economic imperialism and tacit U.S. support for the Brazilian dictatorship, Meireles transformed Coke bottles into ideological weapons by turning their material and symbolic ubiquity against themselves and forcing a critical consumption.[i]
[i] Pozas, "From Reading to Seeing:  Doing and Undoing Imperialism in the Visual Arts."

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