BASTA! An exhibition about art and violence in Latinamerica May 5 / July 15. 2016
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Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery John Jay College 860 11th Avenue New York, NY 10019
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he exhibition Basta! in the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, focuses on current artistic practices coming out of Latin America – especially those dealing with the interplay of art and life addressing harsh aspects of reality. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and a symposium on “Art and Violence in Latin America Today,” with discussions on the topic by major scholars and artists in the field. The publication features the works included in Basta! by Latin American artists Iván Argote (Colombia), Marcelo Cidade (Brazil), Regina José Galindo (Guatemala), Aníbal Lopez (Guatemala), Teresa Margolles (Mexico), José Carlos Martinat (Peru), Yucef Merhi (Venezuela), Alice Miceli (Brazil), Mondongo (Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha -Argentina), Moris (Mexico), Armando Ruiz (Colombia), Giancarlo Scaglia (Peru), Javier Téllez (Venezuela), and Juan Toro (Venezuela). They address topics such as crime, vandalism, transgression, gender-based violence, illegal immigration, drug cartels and state power. The publication also has insightful essays on the subject of art and violence by scholars and curators Claudia Calirman, Isabela Villanueva, Estrellita B. Brodsky, and Cecilia-Fajardo Hill. EXHIBITION In a time when we are shocked by images of worldwide atrocities, we should ask where does the horror of the spectacle stop. For many artists, the challenging dilemma is how do they present brutality in the visual arts without adding more terror to it. In order to expose existing mechanisms of injustice, violence, and inequality, the Latin American artists featured in Basta! bring their own experiences and responses to diverse forms of crime, brutality, and exploitation. By blurring the lines between legality and illegality, crime and justice, they are interested in the effects of the remains of violence. Their practices can be viewed as a remembrance of horrific deeds, an act against indifference and forgetting brutality. They follow the traces and vestiges left by violence, so the reminiscences of the events don’t disappear. In most cases they are torn between the desire to depict traumatic events, and the recognition that it is not possible to render them in fullness by its mere visual representation.
cover of the newspaper: Juan Toro, Plomos (Leads) (2011-12) digital prints, 90 x 74 cm Courtesy of the artist
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SYMPOSIUM Art and Violence in Latin America Today In the Moot Court at John Jay College Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 3:00-6:00pm Keynote Speaker: Gustavo Buntinx Panelists: Estrellita Brodsky, Claudia Calirman, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Gabriela Rangel, Isabela Villanueva, and artists Mondongo and Javier Téllez.
IVÁN ARGOTE A Colombian artist who lives and works in Paris, Iván Argote (born in 1983) deals with the way that man relates with the myriad changes that take place daily in the historical, economic, political and moral realms. His aim is to question the role of subjectivity in the revision of these concepts. Argote involves the body, and emotions in the construction of his thinking, and develops methods to generate reflexion about the way we construct certainty in relation with politics and history. By creating interventions and performances for the public space, which are sometimes further developed in the format of videos and photos; the artist explores the city as a space of transformation. His works has been shown in several cities all around the world, including: Reddish Blue (solo), DT Project, Brussels, 2014; Let’s write a history of hopes (solo), Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, 2014; Strengthlessness (solo), Galerie Perrotin, Paris, 2014; La Estrategia (solo), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); Un millon de amigos (solo), Galeria ADN, Barcelona (2013); Tectonic, Moving Museum, Dubai (2013); Los irrespetuosos, Museo Carrilo Gil, México DF (2013); 30 Bienal de São Paulo (2012); Sin heroísmos, por favor (solo), CA2M, Madrid (2012); Girarse, Joan Miró Fundation, Barcelona (2012), among others.
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Iván Argote Retouch (200 8) Video, 12’ Courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo
Iván Argote dances around an unauthorized action with Retouch (2008), the video documenting an act in which the artist spray paints over two Mondrian paintings at the Centre Pompidou. This action could only be perceived as an act of vandalism, wherein Argote is rebelling against traditional and canonical art. Upon further consideration, Argote’s scrawl brings to the viewer attention to the precision and crispness of Mondrian’s artworks; the paintings are revealed in a new way and become more noticeable. The Colombian artist wants to challenge the way we look at things, while providing an original perspective on matters usually taken for granted.
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MARCELO CIDADE M arcelo Cidade was born in 1979 in São Paulo, where he currently lives and works. He is graduated in Fine Arts by Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP). In São Paulo, Cidade creates works that express complex social conflicts and bring signs and situations from the street into spaces given over to art. One of his particular interests is the public space generated in urban areas and the technological flux of our surveillance society. A selection of Cidade’s solo shows are: Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco (2014); Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy (2015, 2014); Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro (2013); Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo (2012, 2010, 2008, and 2006); Furini Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2010); and Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP) (2008); among others. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2014);
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Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2014); Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR), Rio de Janeiro (2014); Museo de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2014, 2012, 2011, and 2010); the Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan (2013); the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, Illinois (2103); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts (2012); Tate Liverpool, England (2011); MUSAC-Castilla y Léon, Spain (2010); and the 27th São Paulo Biennial (2006); among others. Cidade has works in important public collections, such as Fundação Serralves, Porto, Portugal; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM SP), São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil; Tate Modern, London, England; Kadist Art Foundation, France; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Bronx Museum, New York, USA.
“A___________ social” (The social __________) (2015), is a series of images that Cidade collected from the internet that portray comical robberies or home intrusion attempts. Marcelo Cidade seeks to reveal complex social conflicts and bring signs and situations from the street into art spaces.
Marcelo Cidade “A___________ social” series (2015) Serigraphy over wooden board, acrylic paint, images from internet. Edition: 2/5 75 x 60 cm Photo by artist Courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo
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Regina José Galindo Combustible (Fuel) (2014) Video, 5’ 53” Photo by David Perez Karmadavis Courtesy of the artist
Combustible (2014) took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where eight men of Haitian origin pushed a public car through its common route, without fuel. This work demonstrates the power of immigrants as fuel, as combustion or engines to the development of our society.
REGINA JOSÉ GALINDO R egina José Galindo was born in 1974 in Guatemala City, where she still lives and works. Galindo’s artistic practice situates her own body in a public dimension in a way that can be identified by anybody who has witnessed the violence and sadism of certain political events and personal disgrace. Galindo’s oeuvre highlights old problems that persist in the “new” Guatemala. Her works are combative and often shocking, bringing into the public realm topics that few Guatemalans dare confront. Works like Perra (Bitch, 2005), in which she cut her thigh with a knife, or Hymenoplasty (Himenoplastia, 2004), in which she underwent surgery to rebuild her hymen, challenge the ways that women are objectified in her highly conservative homeland. Galindo’s unapologetically graphic actions amplify her confrontational statements. She aims to stir her Guatemalan viewers from passivity, disrupting a numbness born from long years of violence. Galindo has had solo exhibitions at Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, Netherlands (2008), Modern Art Oxford (2009); Muzeul Național de Artă Contemporană, Bucharest (2010); Fundación Joaquim Nabuco,
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Recife (2011); Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California (2012); Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain (2013); and Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2014). Her work has been featured in the group exhibitions Arte ≠ Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas 1960-2000, El Museo del Barrio, New York (2008), and I Have a Dream, Thessaloniki Centre of Contemporary Art, Salonika (2013). She participated in the Havana Biennial (2009); Venice Biennale (2009 and 2011); Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2011); Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia (all 2011); and Cuenca Biennial, Spain (2012). She has received several awards, including the Golden Lion for a Promising Young Artist at the Venice Biennale, and the Grand Prize Award at the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2011). In 2014, she completed a residency with Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Her work is also present in important private and public collections such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Rivoli Museum in Torino and the Miami Art Museum amongst others.
Regina José Galindo ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) (2003) Video 37’ 30” Photo of the video-performance by José Osorio Courtesy of the artist
Regina Galindo creates powerful visual metaphors by engaging her own body as the site of the battlefield. In another of her many disconcerting performances, ¿Quién puede borrar las Huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) (2003), the artist walks barefoot through the streets of Guatemala City, carrying a white basin filled with human blood. She sets the basin down, steps in and out of it, leaving a trail of bloody footprints along the sidewalk leading to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court. With her bloody footprints, the artist protested against the presidential candidacy of Guatemala’s former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.
Regina José Galindo Perra (Bitch) (2005) Video, 5’ 25” Post-performance photo by Kika Karadi Courtesy of the artist
Regina José Galindo Perra (Bitch) (2005) Video, 5’ 25” Post-performance photo by Kika Karadi Courtesy of the artist
Regina Galindo addresses social and political conflicts in her native country by inflicting physical violence on her own body. In a performance titled Perra (2005), the artist uses a pointed knife to carve the Spanish word perra (bitch) into her leg. A thin line of blood emerges from her skin. Forcing the viewer to watch this disturbing act of self-mutilation, the work suggests guilt, self-sacrifice, and endurance. It is a response to the torture, rape, and murder afflicting thousands of Guatemalan women, many of whom are found mutilated with words like “bitch” carved into their bodies.
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Photograph of Aníbal Lopez’s Testimonio (Witness) performance at Documenta. Courtesy of Prometeo Gallery di Ida Pisani, Milan
Upon his invitation to participate in dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel in 2012, Aníbal Lopez, known as A-1 53167—which was the number of his identity card in his native Guatemala—invited a sicario to talk about his
deeds before a live audience. In Testimonio (Testimony) (2012), the hired assassin talked about a life marked by violence, in which killing merely constituted a job that he performed to earn a living.
Opposite page: Aníbal Lopez A-1 53167 Testimonio (Witness) (2012) Video, 43’ 39” Still from video. Courtesy of Prometeo Gallery di Ida Pisani, Milan
ANÍBAL LOPEZ A
níbal Lopez was born in 1964 in Guatemala, where he lived and worked until 2014 when he passed away. A pioneer of performance art in Central America, López (also known as A-153167, his identification number) become notorious for his extreme actions and disruptive urban interventions. Generally aimed at immersing viewers into the region’s social and political tensions, his works combined the dry language of 1960/1970s conceptual art with the revolutionary ethos of a Latin American guerrillero. López’s oeuvre is characterized by disrupting cultural codes and challenging institutional power. He was invited to participate in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel. Lopez also had a solo exhibition at the Centro Cultural de España in
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Guatemala City (2011) and put on numerous performances over the years. Some of his international group exhibitions include the Bienal de Pontevedra (2010), Bienal do Mercosul (2007), the Prague Biennale (2003) and the Venice Biennale (2001), where he was awarded the Golden Lion as Best Young Artist. His work consists in proposing to people a way of thinking that, with plans or without them could unveil doubts or solutions. He opens a discourse where people could discuss themes that could help solve lives as a community. The artist did not consider himself a conceptual or minimalist, but utilitarian of these mediums, as a precise way of approaching concrete subjects without much paraphernalia.
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Teresa Margolles PM 2010 (2012) Installation that compiles the images of covers of the newspaper PM from Ciudad Juarez published in 2010 34.9 x 29.9 cm Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
Teresa Margolles’s oeuvre inevitably raises questions of ethical trespass in contemporary aesthetic practice. The projection PM 2010 (2012), displays 313 front page covers of the Mexican daily tabloid PM, published in Ciudad Juárez, a violent border city in Mexico, from 2010 —the most brutal year in the entire history of drug trafficking in the country.
TERESA MARGOLLES T eresa Margolles (1963, Culiacán, Sinaloa) is a visual artist who examines the social causes and consequences of death, destruction and civil war. For Margolles, the morgue accurately reflects society, particularly her home area where deaths caused by drug-related crime, poverty, political crisis and government’s brutal military response have devastated communities. She has developed a unique, restrained language in order to speak for her silenced subjects, the victims discounted as ‘collateral damage’ and nameless statistics. Subtle and seductively minimal, Margolles’ works initially offer a pleasant aesthetic experience. Viewers walk through mist before realizing that it is made of the water used to wash the dead bodies of destitutes. A small concrete block basking in the glow of a spotlight in a vast, empty room contains a stillborn fetus that would have been disposed of if the impoverished mother had not pleaded with
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Margolles to save it. At the 2009 Venice Biennale in the Mexican Pavillion displayed cloths used to cover the corpses of victims of drug trafficking, while in another room of the palazzo men and women who have lost a relative washed the marble floor with a mixture of water and blood from murdered people. Such intimate proximity to the material of death produces visceral shock and psychic fear that initiates profound self and social interrogation. Margolles is known for creating powerful artworks that demand attention to violence, poverty and alienation; for exposing the social and economic order that renders violent and destitute deaths an accepted normality; for her courage and integrity in transgressing social and artistic conventions; and for speaking truth to power through public exposure of government complicity in violence and poverty, not only in Mexico, but throughout the world.
Irrigación (2010) is a video of a water truck on the road between Alpine, TX and Marfa, TX. Teresa Margolles videotapes the truck from behind as it dispenses 5,000 gallons of water that is mixed with blood, fluids and other bodily matter that the artist collected from multiple sites of violence in Ciudad Juárez by
placing moistened fabric over the crime scene. Margolles’s use of necrological material reveals the personal elements in the anonymity of mass death and violence. The artist is referencing the human calamity suffered in Mexico
due to violence and the drug wars.
Teresa Margolles Irrigación (Irrigation) (2010) Single channel video projection, color, sound, 34’12” Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
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José Carlos Martinat Political propaganda, that latter become “Pintas”, being extracted from the wall by the artist, with the assistance of Javier Larrea and Christian Sotomayor. Martinat also produced an assemblage of several “Pintas” in order to present written messages to passersby; like Mentira (Lie) presented above. Image courtesy of the Artist
In this urban-tainted work, Peruvian José Carlos Martinat illegally appropriates street surfaces covered in political propaganda. Martinat peels the texture of the paint off the wall and recontextualizes it inside the gallery space. In+, one of the works from his series “Pintas” (2013), Martinat shows the surface of a plus sign (+) painted white, which was taken from the street; it is specifically the logo of the presidential
campaign of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from 2011. The + sign is reminiscent of the interventions done by the CADA (Chile’s Colectivo de Acciones de Arte) that challenged the Pinochet dictatorship with signs that bared messages like “NO +” (NO mas or “NO more”). Martinat’s work can therefore also be interpreted as a visual poem alluding simultaneously to fear, precariousness, and temporality.
JOSÉ CARLOS MARTINAT J osé Carlos Martinat was born in 1974 in Lima, Peru; where he still lives and works. Martinat’s projects are characterized by exploring a relationship with the context in which it is presented, on a social, cultural or political level, in order to achieve a real and direct communication between the viewer, the work and the space. Martinat works within a multidisciplinary practice utilizing sculpture, robotics, programming, audio, sound, appropriation and interaction where relevant. His work has taken part in various exhibitions in LatinAmerican, Europe like: EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial, Bienal do Mercosul, Trienal Poligráfica de Puerto Rico, Noord-Holland
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Biënnale, Shanghai Biennale, la Bienal de la Habana, Saatchi Gallery (London) Carrillo Gil de México, Tate Modern (London), Contemporary Art Museum of Vigo (Spain), IFA (Germany), La Laboral (Spain), Mali (Lima), Pinacoteca (São Paulo), WWVF (Holland) among others, is represented by Revolver Gallery of Lima and Leme Gallery of São Paulo. His works are part of important public and private collections worldwide like the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art of New York, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, the Museo de Arte de Lima, the Saatchi Gallery in London and many others.
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Extraction from the wall, resin, and fiberglass 170 x 184 cm. Estrellita B. Brodsky Collection
José Carlos Martinat +, (2013) from the series “Pintas”.
Yucef Merhi Maximum Security (1998-2004) Hugo Chavez’ emails, hacking on paper Dimensions variable Installation made possible thanks to the support of Brebal Foundation and Eleven Hundred Art, New York
Yucef Merhi looks at disruptions caused by cyber-attacks in places of power. The installation Maximum Security (1998–2004) publicly exposes the personal emails of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The project began in 1998, when Merhi first hacked into Chávez’s email account when he was still a presidential candidate. The artist intercepted Chávez’s emails until 2004, when he was Venezuela’s Command-in-Chief. Merhi’s work
YUCEF MERHI Y
ucef Merhi (b. 1977) studied Philosophy at Universidad Central de Venezuela (Caracas), The New School (New York), and holds a Master’s in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University. His artistic practice began in the mid-80s. He is known as the first artist in exhibiting a work of art that included a video game console, the Atari 2600, back in 1985. As a pioneer of Digital Art, Merhi has produced a wide body of works that engage electronic circuits, computers, video game systems, touch screens, and other devices. Merhi’s career encompasses a worldwide exhibition record in places such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art; Bronx Museum of the Arts; El Museo del Barrio; Neuberger Museum; Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and Bitforms Gallery, all located in New York; as well as the Newark Museum (New Jersey); Orange County Museum of Art (California); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (California); De Appel (Amsterdam); Museo Michetti (Francavilla al Mare); Borusan Culture & Art Center (Istanbul); Paço das Artes (São Paulo); Museo del Chopo (México DF); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Yucatán (Yucatán); Museo de Bellas
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not only reveals the vulnerability of the private security of the all-powerful Latin American authoritarian figure, but it also points to gaps in institutional power. Merhi arranges the hacked information by printing and scattering its data on the wall. The result is a monumental, decoded yet undecipherable wallpaper installation, which functions as a metaphor for the pervasive chaos and disorder in Latin America.
Artes (Caracas); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Caracas); Science World British Columbia (Vancouver); Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art (Ljubljana); among many others. Merhi participated in the official selections of the 7th International Festival of New Film, Split, Croatia; the 2007 Bienal de São Paulo – Valencia; the 10th Istanbul Biennial and the 30th Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. He is currently represented in the collections of the Orange County Museum of Art (California); Library of Congress (Washington); Mednarodni Graficni Likovni Center (Ljubljana); Whitebox Art Center (New York); Galería de Arte Nacional (Caracas); Museo Alejandro Otero (Caracas); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas (Caracas); Museo de Arte Valencia (Valencia); and private collections in New York, Miami, Caracas, Madrid and Tel Aviv. Merhi has received several grants and awards including the New York Foundation for the Arts in Digital/Electronic Arts, as well as numerous commissions and residencies from institutions such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, among others.
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Installation view of Alice Miceli’s In Depth (landmines)/Colombian Series at CIFO, Miami Image by Oriol Tariffs Courtesy of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation
Alice Miceli documents the aftermath of armed violence in certain parts of the world. Basta! features pieces from her In Depth (landmines)/Colombian Series (2015) that appear to focus on images of landscapes; but are actually photographic representations
of space; particularly of land-mine fields in Antioquia, Colombia. Miceli portrays and represents the effects of political conflicts without any gory images that the spectator is accustomed to see on TV and newspapers.
ALICE MICELI A
lice Miceli is a Brazilian artist, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, currently based in Berlin. Her exhibition record includes the São Paulo Biennale, Nara Roesler Gallery, and Max Protetch Gallery in New York. Her work has been widely shown at festivals, including the Japan Media Arts festival in Tokyo, the TRANSITIO_MX festival in Mexico City, and several appearances at the transmediale festival, in Berlin, among others. Fellowship awards include The MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco, Bemis, Djerassi, and the Dora Maar House. An extended conversation with the artist has been published by the Skull Sessions, in New York. Alice is the recipient of the 2014 PIPA Prize, Rio de Janeiro, and the 2015 Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation Grants & Commissions Award, Miami. Alice is represented by Nara Roesler Gallery, in Brazil.
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Alice Miceli In Depth (landmines)/Colombian Series 1 (2015) Pigment print on Baryta paper 73.7 x 110 cm Photo by Alice MiceliÂ Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Nara Roesler
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Mondongo Calavera 12 (Skull 12) (2013) Plasticine on wood 201.6 x 201.6 cm Image courtesy of the artists
Calavera 12 (Skull 12) (2013) is filled with references and obsessive details of forms and colors that serves as a memento mori alluding to violent times in Argentina.
ondongo is an Argentine artist group created in 1999, formed by Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha. Their work has always privileged the image, tightening and deepening its impact through the selection of materials in terms of their content, depending on what best reinforces the concept of their work. Mondongo was commissioned by the royal Spanish family to make official portraits of Queen Sofía, King Juan Carlos and Prince Felipe (Cumbre Portrait Series, 2003); they made them from colored mirrors referring to the colonial trade of goods. Thus, they chose cookies to play porn images extracted from internet, extended and transformed into a sort of pornographic candy for the suburban housewife (Black Series, 2004); plasticine for a contemporary, ironic and version post Freudian of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood (Red Series, 20042007); or cotton threads for soft texture of their own sex scenes (Love Series, 2006). Their work tries to develop a sense from the chaotic mass
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of objects and references which constitutes our daily field. In the show Merca (Blow; 2005), their artwork was shown through three-dimensional fragments of the dollar bill, embroidered using thread and nails, floating in the air, like frozen objects of desire. In 2013 they held a solo show in Buenos Aires, Mondongo Argentina at the Museum of Modern Art, which was considered by critics as one of the best of the year. They displayed part of the Intimate Portraits Series (2005-2015), Cajitas Series (2011-2012), and the Argentine Series (20092012) Part of this exhibition is currently on view at MAXXI Museo Nazionale Delle Arti del XXI Secolo in Rome, with three works from the twelve Skulls Series (2009-2013). Works by Mondongo belong to public and private collections worldwide. They have exhibited in Buenos Aires, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Madrid, London, Brussels, Zurich, Basel, Rome, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Beijing and Bangkok among others.
Mondongo La Raza que aguantaâ€Ś (The Enduring Race) (2011-2012) Altarpiece with plasticine, trash bags and wax on wood Open 300 x 200 x 10 cm Closed 150 x 200 x 20 cm Image courtesy of the artists
Mondongo (Juliana Laffittee & Manuel Mendanha) This Argentinean duo creates their pieces with a wide array of materials and are well known for using plasticine in their works. Their work intends to comment and critique the miseries and corruption that afflicts Latin America. La raza que aguanta (The Enduring Race) (2011-2012) is an altarpiece whose imagery recalls some of the darkest days of General Jorge Rafael Videlaâ€™s dictatorship (19761980) when the infamous death squadrons dropped body bags with cadavers into the water.
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Moris Armas (Weapons) (2012) Collage on wood Dimensions variable Courtesy of Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
srael Meza Moreno aka Moris (b. 1989) lives and works in Mexico City. He has a bachelor in Fine Arts from the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving “La Esmeralda”. Moris is co-founder of the collectives Viernes and Segundo Piso. His work focuses on the transition between violence and power imbalances. Some of the elements of his production are taken from specific contexts, building a record of illegal and violent dynamics and activating an experience when the viewer is confronted with objects from apparently invisible environments that have been disrupted by communal violence. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions: Prey and Predator, Register of llegality and Violence and A Monster Walks Among You, Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (Mexico City, Mexico, 2014); The beast will have its day, Michael
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Appropriating detritus from the streets of Mexico City, the work of Moris, revolves around an investigation of power relations and social inequality. Moris takes cardboard, wood scraps, old tires, and rusty sheet metal from the city’s poorest neighborhoods and transforms them
into handmade makeshift weapons, which he hangs in the gallery. He is interested in learning from improvised strategies devised by marginalized groups to overcome adversity. Moris is also reflecting on visual language, popular writing, the imbalances of power and possible forms of resistance.
Sturm Gallery (Stuttgart, Germany, 2013); 30 Bienal de São Paulo: The imminence of poetry, (São Paulo, Brazil, 2012); The Vultures are Already Circling, Arróniz (Mexico City,Mexico, 2012); When the Lion Kills, the Jackal Benefits (Sleeping with predators ), I-20 Gallery (New York,USA); Living in Evolution, Busan Biennale (Busan, South Korea, 2010); Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego, USA, 2010); My House is your House, Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), Geffen Contemporary (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA, 2008); Zwischen Zonen: La Coleccion Jumex Mexiko, MUMOK (Vienna, Austria, 2008); An Animal Is Killed Because Other Is Hungry, Museo Experimental El Eco (Mexico City, Mexico, 2008) among others.
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Armando Ruiz No Matarás (You Shall not Kill) (2013) Video, 3’ 58” Still from video Courtesy of Galeria Carmen Araujo, Caracas
In the video No Matarás (You Shall not Kill) (2009), Colombian artist Armando Ruiz writes one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou Shall not Kill” in letters made of frozen blood. With the passage of time the letters begin to melt,
their bleeding creating an unformed fluid blotch. As the letters vanish, they suggest that there is no longer any moral judgment to be followed, no ethical law that cannot be broken.
ARMANDO RUIZ A
rmando Ruiz was born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1983. He currently lives and works in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The artist is a Licensed Psychotherapist, and is currently training in Gestalt Therapy. Moreno is a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Facultad Experimental de Artes de LUZ at the Universidad del Zulia, he also completed some Photography courses at the Organización Nelson Garrido, and has studied under Magdalena Fernández and Lorena Gonzalez. Moreno’s work has been featured at the Centro de Arte de Maracaibo Lía Bermúdez, the Centro Cultural CorpBanca, Caracas and the Museo Francisco Narváez in Porlamar. The artist recently had a solo exhibition at the the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia, as well as at the Carmen Araujo Gallery in Caracas. His Artist books have been presented at ArtBo, ArteBa and Arco.
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Armando Ruizâ€™s Los Silenciados (2016), is a book made of human blood instead of ink on cotton canvas. It also plays on notions of attraction and repulsion, creating exquisite textured surfaces out of the vestiges of violence.
Armando Ruiz Los Silenciados (The Silenced) (2016) Human blood on cotton canvas 29 x 33 x 7 cm Courtesy of GalerĂa Carmen Araujo, Caracas
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Giancarlo Scaglia Stellar (2016) Painting on Japanese paper mounted on canvas Dimensions variable Courtesy of Revolver Galería, Lima
The exquisite nocturnal painting Stellar (2012) by Peruvian Giancarlo Scaglia, is a nighttime constellation resembling a cosmic surface. It addresses a tragic event that occurred on the deserted island El Frontón off the coast of Peru, where there was a maximum-security prison housing political prisoners from the leftist guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso. On June
18th 1986, after a series of riots Armed Forces invaded the prison and massacred almost the entirety of the prisoners. The only remains of the carnage are the holes the bullets left on the walls of the cells. For each hole in the wall, Scaglia found a corresponding star in the sky, creating a bullet-stellar cartography of the destruction.
GIANCARLO SCAGLIA G iancarlo Scaglia studied Visual Arts in Lima, a city in which he has grown as an artist. Scaglia’s work seeks to reinterpret a number of events of the armed conflicts that took place in the 1980s and 1990s in Peru. His interest in recontextualizing these events within the field of art led him to question the origin of all that is avant-garde and to ask himself what determines whether an action or gesture is art or not. Some of Scaglia’s most recent exhibitions include: El Frontón and Stellar at the Corkin Gallery in Toronto (2015), San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial (2015), the 10th Biennale of Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil (2015), ArteBA(U-TURN) at the Bendana Pinel Art Contemporain Gallery (2015), Stellar at the Bendana Pinel Art Contemporarin Gallery (2015) Nunca fuimos la revolución, at Revolver Galería (2011), and El Infierno en Chorrillos at the AFA Gallery in Santiago de Chile (2010). He has been awarded several recognitions, including the Fundación Arcos Dorados Prize for Latin American Paiting in 2011, the Emerging Artist Prize by Chandon, Argentina (2008) and the Passport for an Artist award by the Alliance Francaise in Lima (2007).
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Image courtesy of the artist and Revolver Galería, Lima
Giancarlo Scaglia painting the walls of the El Frontón prison in order to produce his Stellar paintings.
Javier Téllez One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) (2005) Single channel video projection, color, sound, 11’ 30” Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
In his acclaimed performance One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) 2005), Javier Téllez launched a man on a cannonball over the international border between Mexico and the United States. Téllez has remarked that his intention was “dissolving the borders,”
a poignant issue nowadays with millions of refugees and immigrants roaming around the world. This work is a metaphor for flying over human borders, flying over the law, flying over everything that is already established.
JAVIER TÉLLEZ J avier Téllez was born in Valencia (Venezuela) in 1969. He lives and works in New York and Berlin. For almost two decades mental illness has been one of the main subjects of Téllez’ practice as an artist. Working often in collaboration with psychiatric patients, it is the aim of Téllez to produce films and videos that attempt to challenge the stereotypes associated with mental illness. As the scholar Michele Faguet stated, “[Téllez] engages in an ethical manner with communities of individuals who live outside the models of normative behavior that define the parameters of a ‘sane’ society but that are constantly shifting in relation to the ideological structures that determine this social order”. Important components of Téllez’ projects are further the specific social and political histories of the locations where the projects are developed, something which becomes apparent in the works of One Flew over the Void (Bala
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Perdida) (2005), O Rinoceronte de Dürer (Dürer’s Rhinoceros) (2010), and Rotations (Prometheus and Zwitter) (2011).Téllez has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Zürich (2014); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2011); Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2005); and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City (2004). He has participated in group exhibitions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas; Castello di Rivoli, Torino; Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, as well as in Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2012); Manifesta, Trento, Italy; Sydney Biennial; and Whitney Biennial, New York (all 2008); Venice Biennale (2001 and 2003); and Yokohama Triennial (2001).
Javier Téllez One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) (2005) Single channel video projection, color, sound, 11’ 30” Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
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Juan Toro Plomos (Leads) (2011-12) Digital Prints 90 x 74 cm Courtesy of the artist
JUAN TORO J
uan Toro is a Venezuelan Photographer, who lives and works in Caracas. He studied under Professor Ricardo Ferreira (1994) and photographer Nelson Garrido (2002-2004) in the ONG, Caracas. He has worked in local publications, being part of a group of photographers that gathered under the name of Contratipo. From the year 2008 Toro began his artistic project on violence, with a journalist friend. Since then he’s dedicated himself to registering all violent acts and its aftermath. Thus
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his work “Nadie se atreva a llorar…Dejen que ria el silencio” (No one dare cry.....Let silence laugh), that chronicles crime scenes, facts that have become very common and a part of the daily life of the Venezuelans. This work was exhibited for the first time in the frame of Photo España at the Cervantes Institute of Madrid in 2011, as it was part of the exposition “Peso y Levedad” (Weight and Levity). In 2013, Toro had his first solo show at the Organización Nelson Garrido, Caracas, Venezuela.
are images of the remaining traces of bullets â€”pieces of splinters, caps, and pelletsâ€”that were recovered from actual sites of shootings. In their apparent formal neutrality, they mask the violent context of their origin.
The aura of beauty and innocence that permeates the elegant sculptural photographs of Venezuelan Juan Toro is undeniable. At first sight they appear to be detached abstract forms, but there is an implicit violence permeating them. Plomos (Bullets) (2011-2012)
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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH CLAUDIA CALIRM AN
Evil is never “radical,” ... it is only extreme, and ... it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension ... It is “thoughtdefying” ... because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its “banality” * H A N N A H A R EN D T
oday as we are in constant shock and awe by images of worldwide atrocities, we should ask where the horror of the spectacle stops. For many artists, the challenge is how to render brutality in the visual arts without adding more dismay to it. Artists are not immune to the harsh reality that surrounds them, and they have a sense of urgency to address it. How to represent violence without aestheticizing it to the level of the banal? How to honor the death of those who were destitute of legal and political representation? How can artists address Latin America’s rampant corruption, social inequality, crime, or the unlawful operations imposed by the drug cartels—just to cite some of the tokens of an extensive list—in a responsible way, given the paradoxical dilemma: How to visually address what is beyond representation? In her book, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, the writer Susie Linfield states that there is a point at which she finds herself saying not just “enough,” but “too much.”1 A similar sentiment is expressed by the artists included in the exhibition Basta!, focusing on widespread violence in Latin America: “enough is enough.” Iván Argote (Colombia), Marcelo Cidade (Brazil), Regina José Galindo (Guatemala), Aníbal Lopez (Guatemala), Teresa Margolles (Mexico), José Carlos Martinat (Peru), Yucef Merhi (Venezuela), Alice Miceli (Brazil), Mondongo (Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha/Argentina), Moris (Mexico), Armando Ruiz (Colombia), Giancarlo Scaglia (Peru), Javier Téllez (Venezuela), and Juan Toro (Venezuela) all address topics such as crime, vandalism, gender violence, illegal immigration, drug cartels, and state power, in a variety of media. In a world bombarded by images of cruelty and exploitation, it is easy to be numb and indifferent. As Susan Sontag states in Regarding the Pain of Others, “There is a shame as well as shock in looking at the close-up of a real horror. Perhaps the only people with the right to look at images of suffering of this extreme order are those who could do something to alleviate it---the rest of us are voyeurs, whether or not we mean to be.”2 Despite the harsh realities addressed by the artists included in the exhibition, they evade the depiction of the powerless, eschewing what the artist and theorist Allan Sekula calls “the pornography of the ‘direct’ representation of misery.”3 Even if they witness a society traumatized by the consequences of crime and violence, they avoid speaking in the name of the victims. Their practices can be viewed as a remembrance of horrific events, an act against forgetting the brutality that surrounds them. They follow the remains and vestiges left by violence, so the reminiscences of the conflict don’t disappear. In most cases, they are torn between the desire to depict traumatic events and the recognition that it is impossible to render the experience in full merely by its visual representation. Their works are also a cry against the classical order and a reaction to constructive trends that prevailed in Latin American art in the last few decades. They want to reclaim locality and reintroduce a socio-political dimension to their artistic practices. In the video Retouch (2008), Colombian artist Iván Argote spray paints two canvases by Piet Mondrian at the Centre Pompidou, simulating a graffiti action. By vandalizing a modernist icon, Argote reclaims the visual arts as a possible territory where one can address violence. His act of destruction calls for the reinsertion of the harshness of urban reality into the discussion. If there were an optimistic time in Latin America during the 1940s
and ’50s, when the region underwent a period of desarrollismo (developmentalism) with its promises of progress and modernization, this cheerful moment was dramatically changed in the bleak period, which followed from the 1960s through the ’90s, dominated by military dictatorships. Repression, violence, and censorship became an everyday reality and there was a need to challenge and contest it, even if only by way of clandestine and ephemeral artistic interventions.4 Artists wanted to articulate social and ethical responses to the military regimes, in actions that were, in many cases futile. Following the demise of the military regimes, from the 1990s onward, a new reality took place in Latin America in which the bleak repression exercised by the state was substituted by the terror imposed by organized crime. Artists no longer had to circumvent censorship and became more direct and explicit in their critiques of violence, as new characters such as sicarios (hired assassins) and kingpins entered the scene, asserting their right to spread terror and to kill. In his essay, “Necropolitics,” the political scientist Achille Mbembe points out that “This new moment is one of global mobility. An important feature of the age of global mobility is that military operations and the exercise of the right to kill are no longer the sole monopoly of states, and the ‘regular army’ is no longer the unique modality of carrying out these functions.”5 Instead, armed groups, often politically sanctioned, seize control over distinct zones, making millions of anonymous people into the victims of their wars. The socio-political life of the dead is the epicenter of Mexican artist Teresa Margolles’s work. Margolles is interested in giving life to the corpses of those without social, political, juridical, medical, and biological representation in society. Her work focuses on the ones who are unaccounted for, the ones who lack representation before the law. It is about the indexical vestiges left by the violence of unlawful war, the remains of unclaimed corpses, which are left adrift on the streets or end up unidentified at the morgues. Margolles gives these bodies an “after life,” by preventing them from being forgotten through the erasure of the evidence of the crimes committed against them. These discarded bodies evoke the figure of the homo sacer, an obscure figure of Roman law who, although once a citizen, is reduced to “bare life”—life that is lived beyond recourse to legal and political representation—by sovereign decree and deprived of basic rights before the law.6 According to Giorgio Agamben, the homo sacer is the increasingly nascent figure of our times. He states: “In a different yet analogous way, today’s democratico-capitalist project of eliminating the poor classes through development not only reproduces within itself the people that is excluded but also transforms the entire population of the Third World into bare life.”7 Margolles has a degree in forensic medicine and worked in the violenceridden streets of the Mexican towns of Ciudad Juárez—the center of the illegal drug trade and a hub for northern migration—and Culiacan, the town of the Sinaloa cartel. She was a member of the collective SEMEFO, whose name is derived from the forensic medical service from Mexico City. Her installation PM 2010 is a yearbook of the front pages of the Mexican daily tabloid PM, published in Ciudad Juárez. Margolles shows
*. Hannah Arendt, “Letter to Gershom Scholem,” Encounter (January 1964): 51–56. Cited in Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 369. 1. Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), 171. 2. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
regime, see Claudia Calirman, Brazilian Art under Dictatorship: Artur Barrio, Antonio Manuel, and Cildo Meireles (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2012). 5. Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” Public Culture (Winter 2003): 11–40, 31. In this essay, Mbembe argues that the notion of biopower is insufficient to account for contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power of death
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(New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), 42. 3. Cited in Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, 40. For the seminal collection of essays and photographs by Allan Sekula, see Sekula, Photography Against The Grain: Essays And Photo Works 1973–1983 (Halifax: Press of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1984). 4. For responses in the visual arts to the military
(necropolitics). He claims that vast populations are subjected to new and unique forms of social existence conferring upon them the status of living dead. 6. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998). 7. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, 180.
Iván Argote Retouch (2008) Video, 12’ Courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo
8. Javier Téllez, interview with the author in his studio in Long Island City (November 10, 2015). One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) was produced at the occasion of the exhibition InSITE 05, held on the Tijuana/San Diego border and curated by Osvaldo Sánchez in 2005. Téllez worked in collaboration with patients from CESAM, the Mental Health Center of Baja California.
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9. L’armata Brancaleone (translated as either For Love and Gold or The Incredible Army of Brancaleone) is an Italian film, a comedy released in 1966. The term Armata Brancaleone is used to define a group of badly assembled and useless people. 10. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky. First published in 1965. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 8.
characteristic of the medieval culture of humor. They were the constant, accredited representatives of the carnival spirit in everyday life out of carnival season…As such they represented a certain form of life, which was real and ideal at the same time. They stood on the borderline between life and art, in a peculiar mid-zone as it were; they were neither eccentrics nor dolts, neither were their comic actors.”10 The circus-like performance enacted in One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) reminds us of the perils endured by illegal immigrants as they cross the U.S. border in search of a better life. In The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration, journalist David Bacon argues that in neoliberal global society, pervasive poverty is the reason for migration. Poor workers are displaced and forced out of their native countries because of a lack of economic opportunities.11 As a result of this inequality, a mass of low-cost workers becomes the motor of advanced capitalist society. As a comment on the vital role immigrants play as a source of cheap labor, Guatemalan Regina José Galindo ironically uses humans as surrogates for low-priced fuel as eight men of Haitian origin, push a public car without fuel in the city of Santo Domingo in her video Combustible (2014). Brazilian artist Marcelo Cidade is also interested in the lives of the people on the margins of society, those who suffer from racism and inequality in their daily lives. Considering architecture as a social practice, Cidade presents images collected from the Internet depicting failed attempts at home invasions in his series “A___________ social” (2015). In these tragi-comic photographs, the trespassers are caught within modernist architectural elements such as windows, chimneys, and stairs.12 These mediatic shots of the entrapped robbers are released by the police to the public in an attempt to ridicule them. Cidade is interested in taking these images out of their original context in order to subvert them. By suspending them in time and space he creates an ambiguous reading of these failed robberies: Shall we be in solidarity with these disenfranchised, ensnared figures or should we condemn them? In Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, the philosopher Alain Badiou argues that ethics is a relative concept and depends on location and singular situations. Badiou states: “the very idea of a consensual ‘ethics’ stemming from the general feeling provoked by the sight of atrocities which replaces the ‘old ideological divisions,’ is a powerful contribution to subjective resignation and acceptance of the status quo.”13 In other words, for Badiou there is no general consensus on one universal ethical principle. When a conservative audience becomes aware that these people are pariahs of society, do they still want to free them from their awkward situations? Or does it change their perspective? Is ethics a “consensual” truth or does it exist to protect property and capital and continually exclude the already excluded? Badiou concludes: “Become like me and [then] I will respect your difference.”14 In La raza que aguanta (The Enduring Race) (2011–12), the duo Mondongo (Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha) presents two views of the same altarpiece. When closed, it depicts the urban disgust created by a sanitary workers’ strike. The discarded waste, usually left adrift in poor neighborhoods across Latin America, becomes a comment on the masses of flotsam and jetsam—in this case, the people left behind, like the 11. David Bacon, The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Boston: Beacon press, 2014). 12. Next to the images, Marcelo Cidade adds aphorisms from the essay “Arquitetura social, três olhares críticos” (Social Architecture, Three Critical Views) by Luís Santiago Baptista, Joaquim Moreno, and Fredy Massad, in which the authors
discuss the role of modernist architecture in a world in crisis. 13. Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward (London: Verso, 2012), 32. 14. Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, 25.
313 covers of the newspaper from 2010, the most violent year in the entire history of drug trafficking in Mexico. Each front page presents an image of one of the anonymous victims of the drug war in the city. Hundreds of bodies were never found and it is believed that many of them were dissolved in containers full of acid. Margolles’s video Irrigación (Irrigation), also from 2010, depicts a white truck-irrigating highway 90 with 5000 gallons of water; an area located 250 miles away from the border between Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and in El Paso, Texas. The water looks crystal clear, giving the impression that the truck is simply cleaning the road. However, the water has been diluted with the blood and fluids of those who have died in violent acts around Ciudad Juárez. Instead of performing the task of cleaning the road, the truck in Irrigación is engaged in the symbolic act of cleansing the violence. The bloody water that “irrigates” the road is a moving memorial to the victims. The aftermath of the drug war is the subject of Brazilian artist Alice Miceli’s ongoing research on zones of conflict and areas affected by chemical contamination. Her series In Depth (Landmines) (2015) focuses on a landmine site in Colombia, located in an open field in the jungle close to Medellin in a region once dominated by the FARCs, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. This guerrilla group mined the sites that were of strategic interest to the army, which was heavily persecuting them. Some of these abandoned landmines are still active and can only be identified through almost imperceptible red sticks marking the land. Following these practically invisible marks on the ground, Miceli ventures to circumvent the impenetrability of the area, which is still permeated with explosives. Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez is interested in the border as a potential space for transgression. His video One Flew Over the Void (Bala Perdida) (2005) could not be timelier in view of the current campaign for the U.S. presidential nomination. At the heat of the debate among the candidates is the prevention of undocumented migrants from Mexico and Central America, and the creation of massive walls alongside the country’s borders for security purposes. In this humorous and mordant work, Tellez documents a parade organized with patients from a local psychiatric hospital in Las Playas, on the Mexican side of the border. They are disguised behind animal masks and hold signs protesting injustices against mental illnesses. The audience watches in disbelief as a human cannonball is launched over the border from Tijuana to San Diego, flying like Superman across the boundary, risking his life. The piece reminds us of the millions of immigrants who jeopardize their lives as they try to make this crossing. One can only imagine the amount of bureaucracy that Téllez had to go through in order to realize this project. Asked how he could accomplish it, the artist sarcastically replied: “I think the authorities were eager to see the hired cannonball crossing the space.”8 Even if the Migra (a term used within Spanish-speaking communities to refer to the U.S. Border Patrol) was waiting at the other side of the border, there were no legal consequences attached to this stunt act of transgression. The desire for the spectacle spoke louder than the law. The presence of the psychiatric patients also suggests a different kind of border: the thin line between madness and sanity. They constitute an incredible army of Brancaleone.9 According to Mikhail Bakhtin, “clowns and fools, which often figure in [François] Rabelais’ novel, are
Regina José Galindo Combustible (Fuel) (2014) Video, 5’ 53” Photo by David Perez Karmadavis Courtesy of the artist
uncollected garbage, at the margins of society. When open, the altarpiece shows an immersive image of Rio de la Plata. From a distance, the water seems bleak but serene. At a closer look, however, one sees that it consists of trash bags—in fact, an allusion to Argentina’s political past. During the Dirty War between 1976 and 1983 the bodies of opponents of the regime were dropped in bundles from airplanes into the river. There is a twofold implication to the presentation of this work in the form of an altarpiece: on the one hand, it refers to the complicity of some conservative sectors of the church with the military regime, and on the other, it suggests a spiritual site to remember those who were murdered, tortured, and/or disappeared. Mondongo’s Calavera (Skull) (2009–13), reminds us that violence is not only part of a remote historical past, but is actually remarkably alive today.
BASTA! The works featured in Basta! address trauma and memory as the remnants of acts of brutality. They have the capacity to create discomfort, to undo the sense of anesthesia created in us by the daily assault of violent images. More than eliciting sympathy or compassion, these works provoke indignation. If anything, they are a cry against alienation, passivity, and dullness. While these artists have no say in terms of public policy, their practices constitute a form of political resistance and cultural agency. Rather than assessing these works for their disputed efficacy to provoke social change, perhaps we should be content if they are powerful enough to shake us from our lethargy and make us question our own certainties.
Claudia Calirman is Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in the Department of Art and Music. Her areas of study are Latin American, modern, and contemporary art. She is the author of Brazilian Art under Dictatorship: Antonio Manuel, Artur Barrio, and Cildo Meireles (Duke University Press, 2012), which received the 2013 Arvey Book Award by the Association for Latin American Art. She is a 2013 recipient of the Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation to write her second scholarly book on “women artists from Latin America from the 1970s.”She has published many articles including “Pop and Politics in Brazilian Art” (International Pop exhibition catalogue, Walker Art Center, 2015), “Lygia Pape and Anna Maria Maiolino ‘Epidermic’ and Visceral Works” (Woman’s Art Journal, 2014), among others. Claudia has curated several exhibitions in New York, including Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! (Americas Society, 2011) and But enough about me—now let’s talk about my work: Artoons by Pablo Helguera (John Jay College, 2011). She is curating the upcoming exhibition Basta! Art and Violence in Latin America at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College (May 2016) and organizing an international symposium on that theme. She is the Director of the Art and Justice Fellowship Program at John Jay College and a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).
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SURVIVING CONFLICT I SABELA VI LLAN U E VA
Human History does not unfold in the world of ideas, but in this sublunary world in which individuals are irreversibly born, inflict or endure suffering and die. CARLO GINZBURG
ocially or politically driven conflict and violence have become omnipresent in our lives. There are more than twenty five ongoing wars taking place on February 2016 as this text is being written (Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, the Boko Haram insurgency, the drug wars in Mexico et al) plus ‘the war on terror’, and the crimes related to domestic abuse, gang violence, child abuse and knife and gun crime as are reported daily by the media. There is nothing fundamentally new or uncommon however, about the disturbing presence of wrongdoings and violence in the arts. Unfairness and injustice are an elemental reality that cannot be ignored, and crime surrounds us everyday as well, therefore it’s impossible to neglect it. Martyrs, catastrophes, battles, rapes and murders have been the subject of many masterpieces. As active witnesses to or participants in an experience, or as passive observers, artists through the centuries have played a pivotal role in capturing and recording the events of our times. Far from being simple dreamers or onlookers, artists have always faced the challenges of their era, whether embodying the humanist ideal during the Renaissance, taking sides during revolutionary times (Eugène Delacroix, La Liberté guidant le peuple, 1830), or facing wars and its horrors (Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, 1937) artists have famously carried out peaceful political protests (Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s Bed in for peace performance in 1969); as well as incisive critiques and reflections on contemporary conflicts and their aftermaths (William Kentridge,Casspirs Full of Love, 1989). Issues like the feminist struggle (Valie Export, Tap and Touch Cinema, 1969), the Aids epidemic (Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Perfect Lovers), 1991) or humans rights violations (Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings) have all been thoroughly explored and represented by artists. The exhibition Basta! focuses on the lasting, powerful record created by contemporary Latin American artists’ visual responses to critical moments and issues in their native countries. There are enormous challenges related to an artistic engagement with these issues. As Susan Sontag claims, harrowing images ‘are not much help if the task is to understand’, yet she acknowledges the power of storytelling adding “Narratives can make us understand.” 1 Therefore the curators and the artists we selected consider the artworks presented as testimonies or as afterthoughts of very complicated, painful and troublesome matters. In contrast to other artists dealing with similar themes who choose the pornomiseria2 way and decide to portray mutilated bodies in order to have a shocking, visceral impact, the artists exhibited in Basta! build narratives and subtly engage the audience in their thought process. The exhibition presents artists that have developed their own strategies to depict crime, violence and suffering without blatant or shocking images: they portray alternative stories, generate dialogues between real and imagined narratives, recontextualize images, use subtle or fragmented images and sometimes use humor. The works of art featured tend to focus on the moments after an event occurred, it is usually the effect of the matter or conflict that is presented and artists tend to not take sides. Instead, through performances, photography, video and reworked images, these artists produce poignant responses to the struggle they have either directly or indirectly experienced. Latin American countries have been in turbulent political climates since the last century: dictatorships, guerrillas, repression, state-sponsored terrorism, drug-wars, corruption, extreme poverty, the rise of criminal
organizations et al. Furthermore; recent data confirms that murder is more common in Latin America than in any other part of the world. That’s the most striking takeaway from a ranking3 of the most violent cities compiled in 2015 by Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice. Of the world’s 50 most dangerous cities, 43 are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. With the exception of Cape Town, South Africa, the 20 most violent cities are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the 50 urban areas with the highest homicide rates, 16 are located in Brazil, nine in Mexico, six in Colombia, and five in Venezuela. Yet the fourteen artists exhibited in Basta! have chosen to apply different approaches to the themes of crime and violence, mainly in how this issue relates to their environment and history. The artworks presented in this exhibition serve as lasting records that document interrelated issues of oppression, corruption, brutality, gender violence, drug trafficking, civil rights and illegal immigration, amongst others. Iván Argote, Marcelo Cidade, Regina José Galindo, Aníbal López, Teresa Margolles, José Carlos Martinat, Yucef Merhi, Alice Miceli, Mondongo, Moris, Armando Ruiz, Giancarlo Scaglia, Javier Téllez and Juan Toro reflect on their own experiences and acknowledge the realities and issues that their countries are currently going through; the works presented reveal these artists’ own struggles to come to terms with how these issues affect them as well as the lives of millions of their countrymen and women. According to an analysis published by the Cato Institute, Venezuela is the most miserable nation in the world4, therefore it is not be surprising that artists that live in the South American country reflect on the turmoil and complicated situation that they encounter daily in their oeuvre. Such is the case of Juan Toro, a young photographer based in Caracas, who has recorded different outlooks of the Venezuelan crisis, from the overflowing crime to the bankruptcy of hundreds of companies, product shortages, increased depression among people and mass migration. Toro has affirmed that his work seeks to record the moment he lives to “build a memory.” According to the photographer “memory is the only thing that can eventually lead to changes... so that things that we believe should not be repeated, are not repeated.”Basta! features Toro’s photographic series Plomos (2011-12), which presents golden sculptural forms that are actually bullets and casings recovered from crime scenes in Caracas. There are no cadavers, blood or mourners, instead the viewer is presented with the aestheticized remains of the heinous acts; with a visual inventory of foreign bodies and absences. Giancarlo Scaglia, has taken a similar approach with his series Stellar (2016); beautiful black and white abstract paintings that recall the evening sky or the celestial bodies in outer space. In reality these works address a massacre that occurred on the maximum-security prison of El Frontón, situated on a deserted island off the coast of Peru, where more than 100 accused Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) rebels were slain in a famous 1986 prison uprising. Scaglia’s paintings are actually frottages or rubbings of the bullet holes in the walls of the cells where the prisoners were executed. Basically the only remains of the massacre. Stellar questions modernist definitions of art and recontextualizes armed conflicts in Peru. Besides refusing to forget about crucial historical events and documenting the aftermath of armed violence in the region, some artists have chosen to act in order to react or protest about certain issues. This is the case of Regina
1. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (Penguin Books, England, 2004), 80. 2. In the 1960s Colombian cinema shook the international art scene with raw and gritty productions that highlighted the lives of street children, drug trafficking activities, and in general focused on the misery of the Colombian people. This kind of cinematic productions were called
unknown and totally alien to them. 3. The study ranked cities around the world by their homicide rates; it didn’t count deaths in war zones or cities with unavailable data. 4. The think tank’s annual Misery Index ranks nations based on data from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The rankings, compiled by Johns Hopkins University professor Steve H.
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“Pornomiseria” (porno-misery) by Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina, and although some critics and intellectual circles cataloged it as social criticism there was another current heralded by Mayolo and Opina which, however, noted that those filmmakers were bourgeois who drew benefit and shined their names on billboards portraying through stark stereotypes, a fact that was
Hanke, follow a simple a formula. A nation’s “misery” can be calculated by adding unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates and then subtracting real GDP’s percentage change. Over the past year, Venezuela’s misery has skyrocketed. In 2014, it was the most miserable nation with an index rating of 106.3. In 2015, Venezuela’s Misery Index score rose all the way to 214.9.
Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches Sabbath
Armando Ruiz No Matarás (You Shall not Kill) (2013) Video, 3’ 58” Still from video Courtesy of Galeria Carmen Araujo, Caracas
José Galindo, perhaps one of Latin America’s most acclaimed performance artists, whose work is not only relevant but also uncompromised, poignant and defiant of oppressive regimes and prejudiced social norms. Among the videos documenting her performances included in the exhibition are ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) from 2003, and Perra (Bitch), from 2005. The first work documents a walk the artist did from the Constitutional Court to the National Palace in Guatemala City leaving a footprint trajectory made of human blood, in memory of the Guatemalan armed conflict’s victims, and as a form of rejection of the presidential candidacy of Efraín Ríos Montt - a former dictator who decades prior, oversaw the genocide of indigenous Maya Guatemalans. The performance was intended to call attention to the quickly forgotten crimes against humanity that Ríos Montt committed. The second video shows another of her notable performances in which Galindo sits in a chair, folds back the fabric of her black dress, and incises her leg with the point of a knife until a thin line of blood emerges from the skin. The artist inflicts violence on her own body, by carving the Spanish word perra, or bitch, on her leg with a knife, this is a clear response to violence against women. Other artists exhibited in Basta! have chosen to take matters into their own hands and intervene in order to analyze and contextualize issues that concern them. One of them is Yucef Merhi with the installation Maximum Security, which is the product of the hacking into the email account (from 1998 to 2004) of the former presidential candidate and later President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez. According to the artist “the ‘hacking’ in this case is projected not only as an instrument of artistic production, but also as an instrument of knowledge, affirming the importance of new technologies in the dismal future of contemporary art.” This artwork deals with intrusion, displays the fragility of the electronic systems and publishes some surprising data related to the political scene of Venezuela. Another artist following a similar path is José Carlos Martinat with his +, (2013) from the series “Pintas,” a banner-like assemblage made from the ‘theft’ or transfer of political propaganda found in Peruvian city walls. The + is actually the logo of the 2011 Presidential campaign of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Martinat’s work is challenging the boundaries of artistic authorship and production; since it is an unmediated appropriation of a political slogan or campaign that taken out of its original context alters preconceptions of where things belong, and questions notions of surface, disfigurement, and displacement. Both Merhi and Martinat have chosen to ‘bend’ the law, their works inevitably raise questions of ethical trespass and contemporary aesthetic practice. Another defiant and confrontational work of art exhibited in Basta! is Aníbal Lopez’s Testimonio (Testimony) (2012), a performance done for dOCUMENTA (13) in which the artist interviewed a sicario or contract assassin from Guatemala (unidentifiable to visitors) and opened the floor to questions from the audience. “Do you believe in God?,” “Do you enjoy your work?,” “Do you have nightmares about the people you murder?” are some of the concerns that the killer responds to. The video is morbid, riveting, deeply unsettling, and as much about the complicit artistic audience in Kassel as it is about the testimony of a detestable “professional.” The performance raises challenging moral questions, as it conventionalizes the sicario’s line of work and obviates the victims. Yet, at the center of this action, the ethical problem of capitalizing on social violence rubs up against the claim for artistic autonomy that we have inherited from the avant-garde. The performance allowed Lopez to pose questions about the nature of art in relation to its means of production and the claims of the artist as equivalent to art. The Colombian-born artist Armando Ruiz has chosen to use bodily fluids -specifically blood- as the primary material in the production of some of his artworks, in order to reveal the personal elements in the anonymity of mass death and violence in the region. In the video No Matarás (You
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Shall not Kill) (2013), one of the Ten Commandments is written in letters molded out of frozen blood; which begin to melt as time passes. The spilled blood is a clear reference to the tragic results of escalating brutality, the slowly moving blood also brings to mind the dispersal or scattering of people affected by violence and the destruction of a society. Additionally, the exhibition features the work Los Silenciados (The Silenced) (2016), a book specially made by the artist for the exhibition; that uses blood as of ink and that lists all the political prisoners of Venezuela -where the artist is based. Since the prisoners’ names were printed sequentially, the result is a tumult of bloodied letters that do not allow an easy reading and that reminds us of the daily human rights violations in Venezuela. Blood is also used by Ruiz as a symbol of life and death, crime and violence, and power and powerlessness, his works denounce what is happening in Venezuela with the metaphor of a bloody dismembered body. Touched by the violence and the poverty that affects his native Mexico, the artist known as Moris reproduces the street he sees in every art piece he produces. Moris sets himself up as a type of visual ethnographer of the urban space. Being interested in visual language, popular writing and the construction of utilitarian objects from the streets his Armas (Weapons) (2012); are objects that allow people who live in the streets and are in extremely precarious circumstances to survive. Moris’ exhibited artworks ask fundamental questions about violence, imbalances of power and possible forms of resistance. All fourteen artists presented in the exhibition reflect on the turmoil and consequential events of their time (like social inequality, gender violence, immigration, political corruption, cybercrime et al.) Basta! provides a view into the lasting power and influence that art has on our collective understanding and perception of some key historic and contemporary issues and concerns. Furthermore, it is crucial that all these artworks are being exhibited at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. John Jay was founded as the only liberal arts college with a criminal justice and forensic focus in the United States. Therefore to present these captivating artworks in the Gallery of a College dedicated to educating the future professionals who will have to fight against most of the crimes and issues that the artists exhibited are discussing is essential. As Claude Levi-Strauss wrote: “Artists cannot compete with the Pandemonium on its own terms; they are outgunned and vastly undercapitalized. The only way to effectively subvert it is to change the rules of engagement, to engage the audience differently5.” The artists in Basta! achieve this by employing different strategies; some reflect on the impact of certain events on the individual, others break boundaries and commit illicit acts in order to generate powerful reflections, and some encourage the audience to pause and reflect on images and to question and create their own meanings. The artworks act as memorials or testimonies, more than denouncing or recording an experience they become it. Artists are not passive to the events or issues around them; and as a result their works poses questions to the viewer and create a resonance. A great work of art is the one that causes an effect on the viewer; the one that upsets the audience’s most respected convictions and patterns of emotions. It is rarely the artist’s intention to disturb the innocence; it is an inevitable reflection of a corrupt society mirrored in his/her sensitive mind. Basta! demonstrates that although each experience of conflict is unique, it is possible to find empathy with the sufferings of others and that there can be a powerful link between art and life when we create the reality within our imagination and make our own connections. 5. David Levi-Strauss, “Between the Eyes; Essays on Photography and Politics,” Aperture (New York, 2003), 164.
BUSCAR IMAGEN A PAGINA
Isabela Villanueva is an independent curator and cultural producer based in New York. She holds a M.Litt in history and art connoisseurship from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and a Master’s Degree in Modern and Contemporary Art: 1860 to Present Day from the University of Cambridge. She is currently curating the Masters and Pioneers section for ArtLima 2016, and was just named the Curator for the Solo Projects and Latin American Section of ArtToronto 2016. She was part of the Curatorial Team of the 30th São Paulo Biennial titled The Imminence of Poetics, under the directorship of Luis Perez Oramas (2012) and organized its itinerant exhibitions throughout Brazil (2013).
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From 2006 until 2011 she served as Assistant Curator for the Americas Society’s Art Gallery; where she worked in several exhibitions including: Ad Usum: To Be Used. An Exhibition of The Work of Pedro Reyes, Carlos Cruz-Diez: (In)formed by Color, Dias and Riedweg... And It Becomes Something Else, Marta Minujín: Minucodes and Arturo Herrera: Les Noces, among others. Among her latest exhibitions are: Stanislav Kolíbal: The Fundamental Element of Drawing at Merzbau Gallery, Miami (2015) and Impronta at the Centro Cultural Capuy, Caracas (2015). Villanueva recently served as part of the Advisory Committee for the recent Bienal de las Fronteras (2015).
Regina José Galindo ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) (2003) Video 37’ 30” Photo of the performance by José Osorio Courtesy of the artist
LATIN AMERICAN ART: INDIFFERENCE/ COMPLICITY/GUILT ESTRELLITA B. BRO D SK Y
or the 2012 dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel Germany, the artist Aníbal López, also known by his Guatemalan citizenship ID number A-153167, invited a known assassin to participate in an interactive event entitled “El Testimonio.” Aníbal was already recognized for subversive art actions and acknowledged with the Golden Lion Award for best young artist at the 2001 Venice Biennale. For dOCUMENTA, the prestigious modern and contemporary art exhibition, Aníbal asked the organizers to underwrite the hired killer’s travel expenses from Guatemala City to Germany. He also needed the organizers to facilitate entry into Germany for the sicario, the Spanish term for a hired assassin. The entry through German customs was particularly complicated by the assassin’s criminal record as a sought after felon. On the day of the event, Aníbal sat quietly in the audience of the large auditorium designated for the occasion. His fellow spectators were mostly white Anglo-Saxon and foreign critics and curators, or wealthy art patrons. The small thin-framed sicario took his place of honor on stage. Seated behind a white screen that offered anonymity, his ghost-like silhouette recalled musicians competing at an orchestral audition. The subject, however, was not about evaluating musical skill, but rather to judge an individual’s moral ethics through his life work, and through the social and political circumstances he confronted on a daily basis in Guatemala City. The sicario presented a short but eloquent testimony describing his life. He then took questions from the audience. They began asking questions cautiously at first and then with more urgency. They interrogated the assassin on details about his work and life, curious to learn how and why he began working as a hired assassin; how he found his business, who had he killed; who would he be willing to kill; did he feel any guilt; and who, if anyone, would he not be willing to kill for money. The answers were simple and direct. He explained that no one believed in him as a youth despite being a relatively good student. There were few opportunities for him except when he realized his personal skill of killing for hire. Parceling out a type of justice frowned upon in most societies but not uncommon in Guatemala and the region of Central America where he and Aníbal came from, the sicario was clear that he was satisfying a social and economic need. It was one that if he didn’t satisfy someone else would, and most importantly, one that allowed him the ability to financially support his wife and child. After the exchange, those in the audience left with a disquieting sense of complicity in sharing an awareness that these injustices occur. They/we were cognizant of the fact that the killing of individuals for money happens and that the social injustices that lead to a ‘fair’ student becoming a hired killer also continue to happen. All were conscious that in many societies there is little justice except that of the streets, and that those, who need to survive in political and legal conditions that are unfair if not non-existing, find alternative paths. For those in the audience in Kassel Germany, that day, they were decidedly all too familiar of atrocities committed in the name of laws against humanity. These they knew of their own Holocaust history but preferred to look away and focus on the offenses this man had committed an ocean away. The common ground for those in the audience and the sicario was an indifference to the social injustices that occur daily. Before his early death in 2015, Aníbal perhaps more than any other artist understood that the legal conditions that determine an artist’s relationship to the law are critically dependent on the fairness of the social and political situation in which they live. What if the government and its police forces are in themselves lawless and corrupt? What if the state determines that the expressive act of an artist should be dictated by politics or a prescribed set of rules that limits free expression? For Aníbal the responsibility of breaking the law as a conceptual gesture was not only a necessity but also a personal sacrifice. He combined the rationalist detachment of conceptual art with the political bravado of a Latin American guerrilla fighter. In a way parallel to
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El Testimonio presentation, Aníbal had earlier organized an incident entitled El Préstamo (The Loan). Aníbal staged an armed robbery by holding up an unwitting passer-by at gun point. The stolen money was used to finance the exhibition at the “Contexto” art space, thus transforming the victim into an art sponsor and the spectator into a coconspirator at the opening. In an interview, Aníbal explained with tears that he hadn’t wanted to steal the money, to frighten the unwitting victim but he had to bring attention to the sins of society. For Aníbal, in a society in which no one aids a helpless victim we are all sinners. No one at the opening event turned away a glass of wine although fully aware of where the money had come; they were indifferent to the injustice. We are all accomplices. The idea of looting is certainly not new to the region. It is one that dates back to colonial practices and continued through the repressive inequities of Latin America’s modern history. Failed democracies, gave way to dictatorships fueled by foreign powers during the Cold war period. These too continued well into the 20th and 21st century. Addressing contemporary injustices of the law and society, artists such as Santiago Sierra living and working in Mexico, often expose and challenge the cultural classifications of domination and submission. Sierra reveals conditions of our existence that we are most uncomfortable in confronting, especially the commodification of life and art. He tackles situations of exploitation and marginalization, and engages in defying the ways in which legal and cultural significance is attributed to property and social contracts. Provocative and often sparking controversy, Sierra has paid underprivileged individuals for performing degrading actions. As with 250cm Line tattooed on 6 paid people (1999) or 160cm Line Tattooed on 4 People (2000) in which drug addicted prostitutes received the price of a shot of heroin in exchange for having their backs tattooed, Sierra underscores the inequities of social contracts in which race, gender and class, are at the core of exploitation and patronage; exchanges without hope of reciprocity and violating (rather than reinforcing) the social contract. Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez deploys a wide range of artistic practices including video, installation-based pieces and collective work with subjects, to similarly denounce discriminations. In a work titled, One Flew over the Void (Bala Perdida) (2005) Téllez collaborated with patients from a psychiatric facility. They staged a public Fellini-esque circus event during which David Smith, a world-famous human cannonball, was “shot” out of a cannon, across the Mexican/US border. In defiance of the strict immigration border controls, Téllez was able to secure legal permissions to officially ignore the illegality of his action, the project was not stopped by any of the 37 federal, state and municipal agencies from the U.S. and Mexico that had the power to say no. The several thousand members of the public who were at the beach at the border that day, might have read the project One Flew Over the Void as a spectacle or stunt; but one that ultimately enlisted them as accomplices. For Téllez’s collaborators from the psychiatric facility, the project provided a public venue to raise serious questions, similar to those raised in Ken Kesey’s influential book One Flew over the Cuckoos Nestquestioning who should make the ultimate determinations about sanity, disability, health, the acceptable, and the absurd. Over the past decade Téllez has worked with other ‘invisible’ populations: the disabled, the poor and those institutionalized for mental illness. Stressing the notion of ‘working with’ as a linguistically – and politically – ambiguous term, Téllez draws attention to how these marginal communities can be manipulated. The artist walks a problematic, often unsettling line by drawing attention to the parallel risks of exploitation and charity, deriving ethics and aesthetics from the situation in which he finds himself. Whereas Aníbal, Sierra and Téllez push the limit of socially acceptable actions to denounce inequities, Chilean born Ivan Navarro employs
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accounts recounted by of being tortured related to them by the Friar Tito de Alencar Lima. The Brazilian Dominican friar was arrested in São Paulo in 1969 along with other members of the Dominican Order. 24 years old at the time, he was severely tortured in the headquarters of the Departamento Estadual de Ordem Politica e Social de São Paulo, known as Dops, which is presently the Memorial of Resistance of São Paulo, dedicated to memories of the political repression during the Brazilian military dictatorship and the resistance to it. After his release, Frei Tito fled to Paris and in 1972 met with the La Denuncia artists. Giving detailed accounts to Le Parc along with the others, together they staged a reenactment of the acts of torture with the aid of French actors. Le Parc photographed them and then La Denuncia artists painted the canvas panels shown at JJC. Shortly thereafter in 1973 Frei Tito, having been shunned by the Brazilian Church, killed himself at the age of 28, seemingly overcome by the brutal experiences he had endured and his ongoing personal conflict between faith and politics. Ultimately, art allows us to take multiple perspectives on our everyday life, whether it be on the best or worse it has to offer. These Latin American artists present injustices committed on a single victim as a way of transcending the personal discourse into a universal discussion. Their work endures as a denouncement of state or social violence as a universal history. The issue is whether an artist has a responsibility to expose injustices committed as well as to reveal the indifference with which we as individuals face those injustices as a form of guilt. Images. Left: Iván Navarro Missing Monument for Washington, D.C. (2008) Video Projection and pamphlets. Installation from the exhibition Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America, cocurated by Estrellita Brodsky at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College (2014) Right: Grupo La Denuncia (Julio Le Parc, Gontran Guanaes Netto, Alejandro Marcos, José Gamarra). Sala Oscura de Tortura (The Dark Room of Torture) (1972) Acrylic and oil on Canvas. Installation from the exhibition Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America, co-curated by Estrellita Brodsky at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College (2014)
Estrellita B. Brodsky is an art historian, curator, and philanthropist. She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University concentrating on Latin American Artists in Post-War Paris. She co-organized the 1997 exhibition: Taíno: Pre-Columbian Art and Culture of the Caribbean at El Museo del Barrio and later served as the museum’s Co-Chairperson of the Board of Trustees from 1997-2000. In 2008, Brodsky curated the exhibition Carlos Cruz-Diez: (In)formed by Color at the Americas Society, New York, the first United States retrospective museum exhibition on the Venezuelan kinetic artist CruzDiez. Brodsky also curated the exhibition Jesús Soto: Paris and Beyond, 1950-1970 at New York University’s Grey Gallery in January 2012 and has taught Post War Latin American Artists at Hunter College. More recently, Estrellita curated the retrospective exhibition Una Búsqueda Permanente: Julio Le Parc on the Argentine Kinetic artist Julio Le Parc in São Paulo 2013 and jointly curated Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America, the 2014 exhibition presented at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College for Criminal Justice. She is presently working on an exhibition scheduled to open at the Pérez Art Museum Miami in November 2016 entitled Julio Le Parc: Form into Action.
a seemingly quieter mode of confrontation. Whereas in many of his better- known works, Navarro uses neon light as an allusion to truth and understanding, in the haunting video installation, in Missing Monument for Washington, D.C. 2008, the artist makes explicit the brutal history of Augusto Pinochet’s military overthrow of Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government in 1973 and to that of the ensuing fifteen-year dictatorship. Navarro refers specifically to the disappearance of the wellknown Chilean singer-songwriter, Victor Jara, who was arrested, tortured and killed in the immediate aftermath of Allende’s military overthrow. For nearly two months after the coup, the National Stadium in Santiago (Estadio Chile) began holding prisoners. Estimates of the total number of detainees held range from 7,000 to 20,000 as Estadio Chile became known as one of the first massive detention and torture camps controlled by the army. Among those thousands of men and women who were tortured and killed was Victor Jara. By contrast to memorials, such as Washington D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial’s silent wall of remembrance or to the more grandiose monuments to military leaders or liberators on horses, here Navarro shows two barefoot men in an empty room dressed in dark clothes with white bags over their heads, as if to be tortured. One on all fours calls to mind the figure of a horse while the other, with an acoustic guitar in hand, stands on his back strumming a single chord and recites the passages from Jara’s last poem-song smuggled out of the stadium after he was tortured, killed and thrown into a mass grave. The words speak to the terror and insanity suffered by those imprisoned, the horror of fascism and the incredulity at what in his words “I see [what] I have never seen.” The posters strewn on the floor printed with the words from Jara’s unfinished work “¿Estadio Chile?” that are being recited by the hooded figures are there for the viewer to step on or pick up. One has little recourse than to engage with the work or to deliberately turn away. Either way, Navarro makes clear the complicit relationship between the passive spectator and his or her confrontation with injustice. Furthermore, Navarro universalizes the Chilean experience recalling the hooded figures and their positions from the 2003-2004 photographs of detainees being tortured and humiliated by U.S. military forces at Abu Ghraib, Iraq. The title “Missing Monument for Washington D.C.” implies the U.S. capital’s ‘absent ‘acknowledgment’ or denial of its own role in disruptive and brutal histories such as those of Iraq and Chile. For Navarro, U.S. involvement in the brutal coup heralded Augusto Pinochet’s seventeenyear dictatorship in Chile, a reign marked by torture, murder, and government-ordered disappearances. Although just a child when Allende was deposed, Navarro remembers most about his childhood was the fear of being ‘disappeared,’ as many political dissidents, including friends and colleagues of Navarro’s father, a university dean who left in exile for the U.S. soon after the coup. Pinochet’s human rights violations became a part of his an inescapable part of Navarro’s life even in exile. An earlier generation of Latin American artists demonstrated their opposition to the inhumanities occurring during Brazil’s military regime with graphic depictions of torture. In 1972, Julio Le Parc and Gontran Guanaes Netto, in collaboration with fellow artists exiled in Paris, Alejandro Marcos and José Gamarra (b. Montevideo, formed the artist group La Denuncia, worked together on a politically explicit installation, Sala Oscura de Tortura (The Dark Room of Torture). First presented at a meeting of the “anti-fascismo” collective with La Denuncia in Paris at the Musée d’Art Moderne Ville de Paris, the Sala Oscura de Tortura is comprised of seven individually painted canvases ranging in size from 190 cm square to 120 by 220 cm height. They depict men and women in the act of being tortured. Tortura’s cell-like installation, a darkened octagonal room into which one must enter, exposes the secret detention and interrogation methods that were taking place in Brazil based on detailed
THE BODY AS MEDIATOR OF VIOLENCE CECI LI A FA J ARD O - H ILL
“Art is a space of vulnerability from which what is social is deconstructed to construct what is human1” TA N I A B R U G U ER A
iolence is a subject that haunts all of us working in the field of Latin American art, both for its widespread presence and for the problematical frames of reception and interpretation that surround its inevitability. Violence is a pervasive reality in the continent and because much contemporary art is rooted in contextual political, social and cultural realities, it is often a theme central to artists in Latin America. But how do we view the art dealing with violence, when this violence is often viewed – particularly in the U.S. – through the lens of stereotypical generic violence, rooted in a colonial perspective on Latin America? How can art today, with its long history of both heroic – war and mythology – and indoctrinating – Christian – representations of violence be more than mere representation of the world’s brutality that replicates violence and victimhood? Performance may be this space of resistance, through a conception of the body as an unstable, transformative and constantly transforming entity, which deflects fixed notions of violence. For centuries violence has been turned into an art form, often heroic, as a mode of propaganda to instill in the spectator emotions of hate towards the enemy, or heroic identification with the state-promoted machine of war, ethnic and religious cleansing, rape and murder. For the Church, art has functioned as a powerful tool of indoctrination by fear, both in Europe, in medieval times and during the colonization of America, through violent representations of hell and martyrdom. Because art proposes also to gratify the spectator, the aesthetization of violence converts art into a form of spectacle, which both fuels fantasies around violence – a classic example are the hundreds of idealized representations of rape in classical mythology such as The Rape of the Sabines – and also promotes a sense of detachment from the brutality of the world and its violence, making it seem unreal and fantastic. Furthermore, today we live in a world overloaded by images of glorified violence; violence as spectacle. The incessant and ever increasing production of mass media culture centered in violence such as movies, TV and computer games, is fueled by a complex mixture of repulsion and attraction towards violence.2 Susan Sontag in her book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), explains the complex and contradicting feelings that we may have towards images of violence and suffering. We may be attracted to them through the glorification -and often banalization- of violence in art history and the mass media; we may not be able to stand the sight of suffering, and feel impotent; we may develop mechanisms of indifference as we are bombarded with images of tragedy from all over the world; we may become cynical, even bored; we may be moved, even feel compassion, but not act on it3. When thinking of Latin America, we have to add to this complex relationship towards violence, the continuing colonial and third worldist perception of the continent through the lens of the prevailing portrayal of its history of violent dictatorships, corrupt governments, drug cartels, poverty, gangs and generalized violence. The media shapes, through daily bombastic images and reporting, a one-sided, one dimensional idea of Latin America. But not all violence is perceived with the same intensity, detachment or pleasure. Sontag explains that there are differences in the way we see images of violence, atrocities of war or death. Depending on how close we are to them, they may be more intrinsically interesting to us. She recounts how for example in America, in the aftermath of September 11, to stay within the bounds of good taste, horrific pictures of the dead were not shown,
whereas the more remote or exotic the place, such as in Africa or Asia, the more frontal and brutal is the imagery of – darker-skinned – dead, dying and suffering people. This perpetuates a colonial attitude of superiority of us versus them, the poor, the inevitably backward. When violence is remote – racially, culturally and geographically, ‘we’ have control – we are not affected personally, we can distance ourselves, and choose to be moved or not – whereas the other is a victim4. Furthermore, the abundance of direct imagery of cruelty and violence, when it does not ‘involve’ us personally, creates a sense of generic violence, of abstracting, so whatever is specific of it disappears, allowing for our distancing from the subject. How may contemporary art in Latin America dealing with violence escape the stereotypes of inevitable victimhood, and colonial other, if it is contextualized within this unified generalist mediatic debased reality? Sontag argues that “to speak of reality becoming a spectacle is a breathtaking provincialism. (…) It assumes that everyone is a spectator. It suggests, perversely, unseriously, that there is no real suffering in the world. (…) How much easier, from one’s chair, far from danger, to claim the position of superiority”5. Violence is not a spectacle, it is the very broken constitutive fabric of our societies, in the U.S., in Latin America and elsewhere, and as such it is a critical and urgent subject for art. The challenge for artists is not only how to ‘represent’ or deal with violence as such, but how to counteract art’s own history of propaganda and glorification; the mass media infatuation with the celebration of violence; as well as the mechanisms of distancing and victimization towards the ‘other’, be it a Latin American, people of color, or women. Performance offers the possibility of resistance and also of bridging the distance between artist, the concepts and realities presented, and spectator. In “Performance and Corporeality,” a lecture by the performance theorist André Lepecki, on January 22, 20146, he expands on the notion that performance does not function within a stable and natural notion of the body, as a fixed vessel of self-contained knowledge, or as a selfcentered subject, but that the body may be considered as ‘corporeality’7; as permanent transience, a circumstantial reality in deep relation with the political forces and structures of the world. Lepecki describes how performance emerged after World War II with the crisis of the notion of the body and the ‘human’, in the context of the pervasive violence and brutality of the world. Lepecki describes the body as multiplicity, as circumstantial, the body in constant formation, deformation and transformation, and therefore capable by performance of resisting and questioning this violence. It is within the idea proposed by Lepecki of an unstable body as transient indetermination, filled with the power of rebellion, that I put forward a group of performance artists who deal with the realities of violence both in Latin America and the world, while resisting stereotypes and distancing mechanisms. Endemic to Latin America are political, social and gender violence, often woven into each other. Performance is an art form that, far from simply illustrating problems, proposes an agency of violence, from within the shareable experience of the body, individual and collective. Some artists propose collective dialogical situations, others confrontational actions and others more metaphorical, subtle and ultimately healing interventions. Some artists are activists, some work poetically and tangentially. Tania Bruguera (Cuba, 1968) believes that artists have the right to be artivists (part artists/part activists), because they are an active part of
1. Tania Bruguera, from Manifesto on Artists’ Rights. Words read in “Expert Meeting on Artistic Freedom and Cultural Rights” Palais des Nations, seat of the United Nations Organization, Geneva, December 6, 2012. 2. This complicated relationship towards violence has been widely discussed over the centuries.
4. Ibid Sontag, 68-71. 5. Ibid Sontag, 110-111 6. <http://artmuseum.pl/en/doc/video-performans-i-cielesnosc> ‘Performance and Corporeality’, lecture by André Lepecki, January 22, 2014 was the first lecture from the series “Points of Convergence” curated by Lepecki for MUZEUM,
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For an overview on the subject see Joel Black, The Aesthetics of Murder: A Study in Romantic Literature and Contemporary Culture (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1991) and Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Picador, 2003). 3. Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, 95-103.
the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in 2014. 7. See Susan Leigh Foster Ed. Corporealities: Dancing Knowledge, Culture and Power (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).
society, and as such artists have the right to disagree with power, with the status quo8. Bruguera attempted a restaging of Tatlin’s Whisper # 6 – an open platform for people to freely express their discontent with the Castro regime –9 in Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza in December 2014. She was detained briefly and then her passport confiscated from December 30th, 2014 to August 24th, 2015. Bruguera explains that according to the Regime, she is a CR – a counterrevolutionary, which for the artist is unfair, because what she is trying to do is to implement the Revolution10. Bruguera’s work has been focusing on censorship because though she believes in socialism, she finds the lack of freedom of expression and repressive measures by the government in Cuba inhuman and contrary to the whole principle of the Revolution. On May 20th, on the Anniversary of the Republic of Cuba, and during the inauguration of the12th Havana Biennale, though very much not part of it, Bruguera began at her home in Tejadillo, in Old Havana, the first session of the Hannah Arendt International Institute of Artivism, by reading collectively – both with people in Havana and abroad who sent recorded extracts – and uninterruptedly, the seminal book by Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951).11 Tania was forbidden to do this reading in public, so she placed a loudspeaker towards the street so that the reading could be heard outside. In response the government sent workers to drill the street in front of her house, making it difficult both for people to arrive at the house to participate, and also to hear the reading12. Shortly after the performance ended, when she was leaving her house, Bruguera was intercepted by police in civilian dress, to be released after a few hours of interrogation. The very lack of freedom and censorship that Bruguera addresses with the collective reading of Arendt’s book is at the core of the unquestionable necessity for living today and for making art. That this ‘quiet’ gesture involved an attack on the freedom and integrity of the artist’s body is the very manifestation of the need for its existence. This is a collective performance where life and art coexist in the possibility of resisting oppression. On the power of shared and role reversal in performance, Erika Fischer Lichte, in her book The Transformative Power of Performance (2008), writes: “Role Reversal based on Bodily co-presence collapses the ostensible dichotomy of the aesthetic and the political (…) Role reversal lays bare and simultaneously affords the author and spectators the experience of a performance that is by default as much aesthetic as it is political.”13 To further illustrate her point, another example of the transformative power of collective work is Teresa Margolles’ collaboration in 2012 for the XVIII Bienal de Arte Paiz in Guatemala City, with the Asociación de Desarrollo de la Mujer, Ademkan, located in Santa Catarina at the Lake of Atitlan in Guatemala. Margolles since 1990 has explored in her work institutionalized violence primarily in Mexico, and how it permeates the fabric of every level of society. Key to her work is to research and work with the fluids of dead bodies as signifiers of
violence. Ademkan, under the leadership of Silvia Menchú, is a grassroots indigenous women’s group established in 2003 to combat domestic and gender-based violence and to educate the community about women’s rights including reproductive rights. Margolles’ idea was to focus on the issue of femicide and violence towards women in Guatemala14 which is also endemic of Ciudad Juárez. For Untitled (2012) Margolles asked the Ademkan women and men15 to embroider images of violence affecting them on a sheet stained with the blood of an assassinated anonymous woman. The artist’s initial idea was to use only a range of black and grey colors; nevertheless the participants decided to use many colors and also to embroider an array of flowers, candles, Quetzal birds, stars, deer, and other symbols that were mostly an affirmation of life. For the opening of the biennial, Margolles asked Ademkan to do a performance by which the stained fabric was transported to Guatemala City, where Ademkan participants finished their embroidery in public. Menchú recounts that in their town, the collective act of embroidery provided an intimate platform for dialogue, where women especially were able to talk about their most intimate fears and traumatic experiences of violence, both gender based and as an outcome of the long armed conflict in Guatemala (1960-1996). As a result, Menchú has continued collectively embroidering, sometimes inviting the very men that have inflicted violence, as an opportunity for dialogue, conscientization and healing. In 2014, for the XIX Bienal de Arte Paiz, Menchú, Bonifacia Cocom and Marco Canale, together with Asociación Ademkan, produced a collective action titled La Fuerza (The Strength), 201416, where they invited the public to participate in embroidering on a clean fabric while conversing about the meaning of strength in the face of experiences of pain. In the morning the fabric was taken to schools, jails, and social organizations where the act of dialogue and embroidery would take place and forms of healing and sharing be activated; and in the afternoon the embroidery was resumed at the Art Center. Margolles’ invitation was the trigger for a new artistic process that went beyond her own work. From the original act of ‘disobedience’ or freedom of departing from Margolles’ instructions, the Ademkan participants became artists on their own terms, promoting collective healing and dialogue, which was not the initial intention of Margolles. A more confrontational approach to the issue of gender violence and violence in general is found in artists such as Teresa Serrano, Regina José Galindo, Jorge de León, and generally in the work of Teresa Margolles17. Their response to the pressing questions of genocide, femicide, brutality are on the one hand more illustrative, and on the other involve the spectator in a radical struggle with their own conscience. How may we define the human or a universal category of existence faced with genocide and extermination? Lepecki cites Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben in this context. In his seminal text “Beyond Human Rights,” from 1993,18 Agamben argues that people do not enjoy universal equality of human
8. Ibid Bruguera, Manifesto on Artists’ Rights. 9. The first Tatlin’s Whisper took place in 2009 at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, and was censored. 10. Tania Bruguera explains: “I’m an anticapitalist. So I’m present in the discourse. I believe that socialism is a better model, even if it has some problems. I’m afraid that Cuba will go in a direction that is completely contrary to the Revolution (…) My battle right now is to not get accustomed to what’s happening to me. Because, as time goes on, you can get used to the secret police coming to see you. You can adjust to anything. It becomes a habit. The habit in Cuba is to be afraid and not even tell anybody about it. Right now, people are in Fear 2.0, which is self-censorship.” Bruguera in interview with Travis Peppsen, ‘In the Studio: Tania Bruguera, Art in America, September 1, 2015.
site of the Walker Art Museum on June 17, 2015. <http://www.walkerart.org/magazine/2015/ tania-bruguera-artivism-gerardo-mosquera-cuba 13. Erika Fischer Lichte, “Shared Bodies, Shared Spaces: The Bodily co-presence of Actors and Spectators,”in The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. Trans. by Saskya Iris Jain (Routledge: London and New York, 2008), 44. 14. There are no definitive numbers for femicide in Guatemala. Guatemalan human rights groups have said that in 2012 numbers that show 731 women were killed in the country and that only 2% of murdered women’s cases were investigated. For cases that somehow make it to court in Guatemala, 90% of defendants are not convicted. Deborah Hastings, New York Daily News, January 10, 2014.
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<http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/newsfeatures/magazine/in-the-studio-tania-bruguera/> 11. In Bruguera’s website the performance materials are described thus: “Materials: Cubans, Visitors, 1 dove, 1 armchair, The Origins of Totalitarianism book, 1 Loudspeaker inside and 1 loudspeaker outside of the Institution, Lectures and discussion recorded and sent via email from persons outside the country would like to be part of the piece, Cultural officers, Cuban State Security agents, Movement ‘Respuesta Rápida’, Repudiation act.” <http://www.taniabruguera.com/cms/652-02015+overview.htm> 12. For an account of this performance and its surrounding events read: Gerardo Mosquera, “Tania Bruguera: Artivism and Repression in Cuba: An Eyewitness Report”, published online on the Web-
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/femicide-rise-central-america-article-1.1552233 15. The participants are: Mario Ajzalán, Alicia Álvarez, Tiburcio Cotzal, Bonifacia Cocom, Marcelina Cumé, José de la Cruz, Lucy López, Rosa Amelia López, Yuri López. Silvia Menchú and Josefina Tuy. 16. Anabella Acevedo, Rosina Cazali, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Pablo José Ramírez et al..,19 Bienal de Arte Paiz: Transvisible (entre el ya no y el aún no)/ Transvisible (between what no longer is and what still isn’t), Fundación Paiz para Educación y la Cultura Guatemala, 2014, 221. 17. In the digital expanded version of this text in the CUNY website for Basta <www.bastaexhibition.com> the work of Jorge de León, Mónica Mayer and Teresa Serrano is also described.
Maria José Arjona Birdcage, (2015) Photo by Lisa Palomino Courtesy of the artist and Prometeo Gallery
Silvia Menchú (Asociación Ademkan), Bonifacia Cocom and Marco Canale, La Fuerza, (2014) Collective action, 19 Bienal de Arte Paiz, Guatemala City Photo Byron Mármol Copyright Byron Mármol and Fundación Paiz
rights as these depend on the citizenship status of a specific nation-state which may or may not proffer the same rights. This is the case for example of refugees, or in the context of Latin America, where people are subjected to pervasive violence in marginalized sections of society. Regina José Galindo’s (Guatemala, 1974) work deals with political and social violence, particularly towards women, injustice, and the political history of Guatemala. Galindo’s work has a denunciatory character, often exposing the spectator, either through participation or the lack of it, for our role as accomplices of injustice and violence in the world. The artist places herself in a complex ‘victim’ position in her performances, often being subjected to violence and humiliation, though by making the conscious choice of playing this role, she promotes a crisis of conscience in the spectator, and paradoxically reverses the role of the viewer, who by having no choice but becoming involved emotionally and mentally experiences the pain of the ‘other. Performances such as Crisis Cloth at Exit Art in New York on October 2nd, 2009, where she sells the clothes she is wearing and the buyers have to remove each garment; or Caparazón, (Shell) a performance about fear expressed in sound, which took place during Corpus. Arte in Azione at the Madre, Museo D’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina in Naples on June 26 2010, where the artist appeared naked in fetal position under a sealed dome, while a group of people attempted to break it with sticks; are examples of blurring the line between reality and life, between the artist and the spectator. To end this text I introduce a Colombian artist, whose work extends in open ended ways beyond the idea of violence and the idea of Latin America. Maria José Arjona (Colombia, 1973) is an artist whose work could hardly be said to relate to violence. It is within the idea of corporeality, of a resisting affective body, that is vulnerable and meaningful, that I invoke Arjona here. The analogy between human and bird, between existence and flight, in her ongoing project Avistamiento (2014), becomes a metaphor for the present world with its possibilities and tribulations. In 2015, during a LADA residency (Live Art Development Agency) in London, Arjona took eight hour daily walks through the city for several days, where she had the opportunity to observe pigeons, both their behavior and how they are viewed and treated. She writes: “Pigeons and not falcons became the birds of my research in London since they adapt to human environments and thrive beyond our expectations. Pigeons became (for me) metaphors of resilience and resistance, making me understand the fear we have of “the other” when it is not something I can control.(…) Pigeons survive in really difficult situations.19” In her performance Birdcage, London (2015), Arjona is shown naked and surrounded by spikes. It is difficult to fathom how her delicate body is coexisting and surviving between the spikes. Furthermore, a strobe light is both blinding and confusing, making it impossible to apprehend the situation. Pigeons/humans are being contained, controlled by all kinds of violent mechanisms, to expel and invisibilize what Arjona describes as the social struggles. She writes: “The system masks in order to qualify and rate, ‘It’ prevents diversity, uniqueness, singularity, change. It uniforms.” (Ibid). Arjona was in London at the height of the immigration crisis, and this work becomes a metaphor for society’s reluctance, or refusal, to open up to, and accept the other. Here the violence experienced by ‘the other’ far away is brought home, and can no longer be seen with distant indifference or sympathy. As human tragedy looms closer to home, the lack of action
against violence and injustice described earlier by Sontag, is now embodied in the inhumanity of the electrical fence. Arjona’s vulnerable, disobedient body, speaks not only about the resilience of the ‘human’, but also about the power of performance to provide an experiential and subjective form of knowing which is intimate and non-illustrative. Through the work of some key performance artists we have suggested how a body may engage, resist and transform violence without replicating and falling victim to it. The unstable, creative corporeality of the body in performance allows for a more reflective, emphatic and thoughtful engagement with the world and its adversities, reaching the audience beyond traditional art historical representation and the passive absorption of undiluted media hyper violence.
18. Giorgio Agamben’s “Beyond Human Rights” (1993), Reproduced in Social Engineering, No. 15/, Open 2008, 90-95. The English translation of the original Italian text was first published in “Giorgio Agamben, ‘Means without End.’ Notes on Politics,” in: Theory Out of Bounds, Vol. 20 (Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota
not sound extraordinary, but it is. To ADAPT without losing yourself in the process, seems to be a great quality.” Maria José Arjona, “Walking Aimlessly. An extension from Avistamiento”. March 5-7, 2015. Unpublished artist writing.
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Press, 2000). 19. The full quote reads: “(…) They adapt to poor weather conditions, they drink contaminated water, they avoid bird spikes, electrical fences and have also learned to avoid hawks. They have managed to understand electricity so they land on the other side of the fence. All of this might
Cecilia Fajardo-Hill is a British/Venezuelan art historian and curator in modern and contemporary art, specialized in Latin American art. She holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Essex, England, and an MA in 20th Century Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England. Presently she is guest curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, co-curating The Political Body: Radical Women in Latin American Art 1960-1985, to open in 2017 under the umbrella of the Getty initiative PST LA/LA. Fajardo-Hill is currently the chief curator of Abstraction in Action, a multiplatform project on post 90s abstraction in Latin America. Fajardo-Hill has curated and written extensively on contemporary art and artists, to include solo shows by Emilia Azcárate, Johanna Calle, Mariana Castillo Deball, Maria Evelia Marmolejo, Javier Téllez; Susan Hiller and Mona Hatoum; and curated group shows such as Monochrome Undone, (SPACE, Irvine CA, 2015); Ricardo Valverde: Experimental Sights, 1973-1996 (Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, 2014); she was head curator of the 19 Bienal Paiz (Guatemala City, 2014); Forms of Classification: Alternative Knowledge and Contemporary Art (CIFO, Miami, 2006); and Fortunate Objects (CIFO, 2007).
Vanessa Gordillo Curatorial Assistant & Web Designer Alejandro Ros Publication Designer Silvia Canosa Designer Assistant Alexandra Garcia Waldman Editorial Advisor
Claudia Calirman & Isabela Villanueva Co-curators
A C K N O W L ED G EM ENT S
This project would not be possible without our partnership with Ariel Aisiks, founder and CEO of the Institute for Studies on Latin America (ISLAA). Since its inception, Ariel has been instrumental in helping conceptualize and implement this endeavor. We are also appreciative of the efforts of Mercedes Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of ISLAA. Our curatorial assistant Vanessa Gordillo has been invaluable in all the steps of the process. Our many thanks go to the artists of the exhibition Iván Argote, Marcelo Cidade, Regina José Galindo, Aníbal Lopez, Teresa Margolles, José Carlos Martinat, Yucef Merhi, Alice Miceli, Mondongo (Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha), Moris, Armando Ruiz, Giancarlo Scaglia, Javier Téllez, and Juan Toro. They are the body and soul of this project. Our symposium panelists Gustavo Buntnix, Estrellita B. Brodsky, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Gabriela Rangel, and artists Mondongo and Javier Tellez have been essential in their contributions to this project. The essayists Estrellita B. Brodsky and Cecilia Fajardo-Hill brought great insight to this publication, expanding the scope and depth of the current discussion on art and violence in Latin America. We are also thankful for the immense talent of our publication designer Alejandro Ross and the editorial advice provided by Alexandra Garcia Waldman. Additional thanks goes to the Director of the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, William Pangburn, and the Assistant Director, Marina Leybishkis for their collaboration in this project. The support of the Chair of the Department of Art & Music at John Jay College, Roberto Visani, has been invaluable all the way through. The symposium on “Art and Violence on Latin America Today” would not be possible without the logistics support from the Office of Advancement of Research (OUR) at John Jay College. Our sincere gratitude goes to Anthony Carpi, Associate Provost and Dean of Research, Suzy Mendes, Director officer of Sponsored Programs, and Daniel Stageman, Director of Research Operations. We also appreciate the support of our colleagues from John Jay College in promoting this event, especially Marcia Esparza, Director of the Historical Memory Project, John A. Gutierrez, Professor at the Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies, and Katie Gentile, Director of Gender Studies Program. Special thanks goes to Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Galeria Carmen Araujo (Caracas), Galeria Nara Rosler (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, New York), Galerie Peter Kilchmann (Zurich), Prometeo Gallery di Ida Pisani (Milan), Revolver Galería (Lima), Galeria Vermelho (São Paulo); to the lender Estrellita B. Brodsky, and to the Brebal Foundation and Eleven Hundred Art (New York) for making the installation of Maximum Security possible. Sincerely, C L A U D I A C A L I R M AN A ND I SA B ELA V I LLA NUEVA ,
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An exhibition about art and violence in Latinamerica May 5 / July 15. 2016 The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery John Jay College of Criminal Justice 860 11th Avenue New York, NY 10019
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Mondongo (Juliana Laffittee & Manuel Mendanha), Calavera 5 (Skull) (2009-2013), plasticine on wood, 200 x 200 cm. Courtesy of the artists
Iván Argote Marcelo Cidade Regina José Galindo Aníbal Lopez Teresa Margolles José Carlos Martinat Yucef Merhi Alice Miceli Mondongo Moris Armando Ruiz Giancarlo Scaglia Javier Téllez Juan Toro Curated by Claudia Calirman Isabela Villanueva
Symposium ART AND VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA TODAY In the Moot Court at John Jay College Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 3:00-6:00pm Keynote Speaker Gustavo Buntinx Panelists Estrellita B. Brodsky Claudia Calirman Cecilia Fajardo-Hill Gabriela Rangel Isabela Villanueva and artists Mondongo and Javier Téllez For more information please contact: 212-237-1439 Gallery Hours: 1-5 PM, M – F