Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City


Juan Downey, 'Yanomami Indian', 1976
welcoming the visitors to the Palacio de Bellas Artes

Rafael Ferrer, 'Artforhum', 1970-2011, vinyl on wall on the mezzanine
phonetically to be read as Art for Whom

Room 1: Identity, Passports, Corpses and Murder

Joaquin Torres Garcia, 'Inverted America', 1943 and Luis Camnitzer, 'Fosa Comun' (Common Grave), 1969

Joaquin Torres Garcia, 'Inverted America', 1943

Felix Gonzalez Torres, Untitled (Passport), 1991

Helio Oiticica, 'Metaesquema', 1968
(not sure what Helio is doing in this room...)

on the right: Arturo Duclos, 'Untitled', 1995, human femurs drawing Chile's flag
left: Carlos Rodriguez Cardenas, 'Construir el cielo', 1989

Alfredo Jaar, 'This is Not America', 1987
(you can see the video on you tube here.)

Nadin Ospina, 'American Dream, Mrs. Simpson', 1996

Teresa Margolles, gold jewelry incrusted with remains of car crystal shot during narco violence, 2007

Francis Alys, drawings and hanged person painting, 2005-2011

Antonio Caro, 'Colombia', 1976 and Elias Adasme, Documentation of Performances done in Chile during the Dictatorship, 1979-1980

Elias Adasme, Documentation of Performances done in Chile during the Dictatorship, 1979-1980

Artur Barrio, 'Situaçâo T/T 1, Belo Horizonte', 1970
16 mms film transfered to video, in which Barrio leaves a wrapped bulk of meat near a river bed which looks like a dead body of someone killed during the military regime.

Room 2: The Cuban Room: Fidel, Che, Pop, Power and Dictatorship

Raul Martinez, 'Oye América', 1967 (Pop Fidel) and Jose Toirac, 'Opus', 2005, video with the voice of Fidel saying different numbers
(Raul Martinez was Cuba's great socialist-pop artist, he also happened to be homosexual)

Antonia Eiriz, 'A tribune for democratic peace', 1968
(Tania Bruguera's 'Tatlin’s Whispers # 6 (Havana Version)' about freedom of speech in Cuba, needed to be in this room, but was exhibited in another room, next to Gordon Matta Clark...)

Aaron Valdez, 'State of the Union (Clinton)', 1997 (Clinton saying numbers, you can see the video here and Raul Martinez, 'Fenix', 1968, (Pop Che!)

Room 3: The Mexican Room: Revolution, Violence, Migration to the USA and Transvestite Fridas

Jorge Mendez Blake, 'Diles que no me maten', 2003
(The voice of Juan Rulfo repeating in loop "Tell them not to kill me", to get an idea, the complete reading by Rulfo of his text can be heard here.)

Semefo, 'Fosilized Memory', 1999
personal belongings found on the bodies of 247 murder victims buried in a concrete block
(Teresa Margolles used to be part of the Semefo Collectivo together with the famous Doctor Angulo)

Diego Rivera, 'Emiliano Zapata', 1932

Jose Clemente Orozco, 'El Combate', 1925-1928

David Alfaro Siqueiros, 'May 1st Parade', 1951

Yeguas del Apocalipsis (from Chile) with their version of the 'The two Fridas', 1990

Guillermo Gomez Peña, 'Border Brujo' 1985
(translation of subtitles :Have you ever worked legally?)

Dulce Pinzon, 'Noé Reyes as Superman' from the series 'The Real History of the Superheroes', 2005-2010

Corridor between Exhibition Rooms:

Beatriz Gonzalez, 'Interior Decoration', 1981

Wilfredo Prieto, 'Speech', 1999
toilet paper roll made with the Cuban official newspaper Gramma

Room 4: Foreign Artists, Airmail Paintings, Impenetrables, Migrants waiting for a Plane going nowhere, and the evolution of the Cholo

Eugenio Dittborn, 'Airmail Paintings 2 and 8', 1984

Miguel Calderon, 'Evolution of Man', 1995

Mona Hatoum 'Impenetrable', 2009
(a reference to Oiticica's and Jesus Soto's Penetrables but made of barbed wire...)

Hatoum's Impenetrable, Calderon's Evolution and Adrian Paci's 'Centro di Permanenza Temporarea', 2007, Mexican immigrants in California standing on the stairs waiting for an airplane that will never arrive.


Santiago Sierra, 'Untitled', 2007
the national hymns of Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay played simultaneously

and Jesse Lerner's great curated film programme


Jesus Bubu Negron, cigarette butt sculptures made of cigarette butts collected in the pyramids of Teotihuacan, 2011
one of the few new commissions of the exhibition

Glexis Novoa, 'Untitled' (Etapa Practica), installation, 1989

Lotty Rosenfeld, 'Crosses over the Pavement', 1985
documentation of aesthetic political resistance to Chile's dictatorship

Second Floor
Room 5: Latin idols, Family, Class Divisions, Artist Stardom, Marta, Andy, Marylin and Cocaine

Oscar Bony, 'La familia obrera', 1968-1999 (at the centre) and Lucia Egañas 'Repujado', 2007
120 "beautiful" plaques of copper plaques embossed with Latin American idols and motifs

Daniela Rosell, 'Ricas y Famosas', 2001, photos of wealthy Mexican women photographed in their luxury interiors, next to Bony's working class family on a plinth and the latino idols copper floor...

Marta Minujin, 'The payment of the external debt of Argentina to Andy Warhol in exchange for corn, Latin America's gold', 1985 next to Helio Oiticica's 15-CC3 (Maileryn/Cosmococa Programa in Progress), 1973/2003

Miguel Luciano, 'Platano Pride', 2006

Room 6: Fissures, Cuts, Collapse of American Suburban Dream, Freedom of Speech, Censorship,

Doris Salcedo, 'Shibboleth I-IV', 2007, inkjet on photographic paper, edition of 45 + 10 AP
souvenirs of her intervention at Tate's turbine hall

Tania Bruguera, 'Tatlin’s Whispers # 6 (Havana Version)', 2009
you can see documentation and video of the original performance here
and it's recreation at the Berezdivin collection in San Juan here

Gordon Matta Clark, 'Splitting', 1974

Tucuman Arde Archive, 1968, digital reproductions from the Graciela Carnevale archive

Antonio Manuel, 'Repressão Outra Vez: Eis o saldo', 1968
'Repression Again: Here is what is Left': silkscreened newspaper pages covered by black fabric, a cord needs to be pulled by the visitor to activate them

installation view

Mezanine 2: Che between the Muralists

Che's signature as President of the Bank of Cuba on a 10 Pesos Cuban bill of 1960

Luis Camnitzer, 'Che', 1968

Room 7: Protest and Survive, and Insertions into Ideological Circuits

Yeguas del Apocalipsis, 'Tu dolor dice minado', 1992.
Performance in which they read the complete list of those disappeared during the Chilean dictatorship.

Cildo Meireles, 'Insertions in Ideological Circuits', 1970
where Meireles removed Coca-Cola bottles from circulation and added political statements such as ‘Yankees Go Home' or instructions on how to transform the bottle into a Molotov bomb, before returning them to the everyday circuit of exchange. He did similar operations on currency notes.

Yeguas del Apocalipsis, 'The Conquest of America', 1989
documentation of performance at the Human Rights Commission in Chile where the dressed up artists dance a national dance over a map of Latin America covered with fragments of Coca Cola bottles.

CADA (Colectivo de Acciones De Arte: Fernando Balcells, Juan Castillo, Diamela Eltit, Lotty Rosenfeld y Raúl Zurita) NO+, 1983
Sign saying No More installed in different parts of Santiago

Javier Tellez, 'The Battle of Mexico', 2004
A video installation made in collaboration with the patients of the psychiatric Hospital Fray Bernardino in Mexico City. The work documents a fictitious militia of patients who take over the hospital and produce their own banners and demands, and are armed with machine guns, camouflage uniforms and Zapatista style ski masks.

Room 8: Language, Translations, Signatures, Weavings, and the Inferiority of God

Carlos Colombino, 'El demagogo', 1968; Antonio Caro's 'Homage to Quintín Lame', 1979; and Jarbas Lopes, 'The Debate', 2003-4, political propaganda of candidates from different political parties, woven together

Jarbas Lopes, 'The Debate', 2003-4, political propaganda of candidates from different political parties, woven together

Antonio Caro's 'Homage to Quintín Lame', 1979

Cristina Lucas with Gerardo Mosquera, 'Untitled' Feminine and Masculine Maps, 2007
The different names given to the vagina and the penis in different countries of Latin America written over each country, a great work, intelligent and humorous, the curator as an artist!

Santiago Sierra, '11 People paid to Learn a Phrase', 2001
Eleven Tzotzil Indian women were brought together in an auditorium to be taught a phrase in Spanish, a language they do not speak. The phrase was the following: “I am being paid to say something, the meaning of which I don’t know”. They were paid by the artist $2 dollars each.” Done at the Casa de la Cultura de Zinacantán, Zinacantán, Mexico

Flavio de Carvalho, Inferiority of God, 1931

ASCO, 'Instant Mural', 1974
Neo Chicano mural in Los Angeles

The exhibition continued in the ex convent of Santa Teresa, some 25 minutes walk from Bellas Artes in the  zone located behind the National Palace.

Wilfredo Prieto, 'Apolitical', 2001
21 black and white flags of the countries with artists in the exhibition: Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Uruguay, Venezuela, Albania, Bélgica, España y Palestina.

Ana Mendieta, Sweating Blood, 1973

exhibition view, Ernesto Salmeron's truck and Teresa Margolles 'The cloth of the corpse', 2003 (Morgue sheets with imprints of assesinated persons 2260 x 274 cms.)

Ernesto Salmeron, 'Auras of War', (El Gringo y La Centro America), 1996-2006
this is the truck that was exhibited in Venice Bienal of 2007, and which was afterwards polemically bought by the Tate Latin American Committee (whose curatorial advisor at the time was Cuauhtemoc Medina) for £36,703 (after discount, asking price must have been around £50,000: for info google 'Tate Donated Works and Purchased Acquisitions 2009-10'). I can only imagine the transport cost of shipping the truck from London to Mexico for the exhibition. Read Virginia Perez Ratton's apology of the work here.

Outside of the Exhibition:
Real World Crisisss: El Zocalo
sometimes reality is stronger than the artist's attempt to portrait it, below images of the interventions, offerings and demonstrations happening at the same time and done by non artists (Mexican citizens) in Mexico City's main square (El Zocalo), a labyrinth, flower offerings for those that had been killed in Mexico's crime and narco violence, shoes protesting against the privatisation of the national Electricity Company...

exhibition press release:
Crisisss. Art and Confrontation in Latin America. 1910-2010
Palacio de Bellas Artes and Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City
From March 12th to June 5th, 2011

This exhibition, curated by Gerardo Mosquera, presents an overview of confrontational and transgressive Latin American artworks dating from the hundred years following the Mexican Revolution. Featuring 103 artists and some 200 artworks, crisisss… has been the largest and most wide-ranging show of its kind ever organized. Among the artists included were Francis Alÿs, David Alfaro Siqueiros, ASCO, Oscar Bony, Tania Bruguera, Miguel Calderón, Luis Camnitzer, Antonio Caro, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Gonzalo Díaz, Eugenio Dittborn, Juan Downey, Arturo Duclos, Jimmie Durhan, Regina José Galindo, Beatriz González, Félix González-Torres, Mona Hatoum, Cristina Lucas, Teresa Margolles, Gordon Matta-Clark, Cildo Meireles, Ana Mendieta, Marta Minujin, Hélio Oiticica, José Clemente Orozco, Adrian Paci, José Guadalupe Posada, Wilfredo Prieto, Diego Rivera, Lotty Rosenfeld, Graciela Sacco, Doris Salcedo, Rosemberg Sandoval, Martín Sastre, Santiago Sierra, Javier Téllez, Joaquín Torres García…

Many artists throughout Latin America have reacted to a variety of intense social emergencies and have used the permissiveness provided by art’s aura to posit radical messages and actions. They have explored intricate social and cultural problems by deploying art’s intrinsic semantic potential, thus expanding the possibilities of art as language. crisisss… additionally included diasporic artists together with European and North American ones with works that make reference to the show’s content. The exhibition foregrounds the global relevance of Latin America’s art of dissent, which is exemplary not only because of its diversity, extent and reach, but also due to the plausible and complex drive it has lent to both the political and the aesthetic fields. The exhibition focused on works aimed to social, cultural and artistic confrontation which remained within the realm of art and aesthetics in a critical way. Few pieces presented were close to pamphlets or strict political illustrations, while, on the other hand, very few transcended the artistic field to become direct social and political action.

crisisss… was not a strictly historical show, nor an exhaustive survey, and it did not pursue a country-by-country presentation. Instead, its curatorial vision sought to construct discourse through the show itself, with the artworks—and not curatorial generalizations—as the starting point. It addressed Latin America in all its complexities and conflicts, and emphasized contemporary problems and positions. Confronting hierarchies and totalizations, the exhibition articulated multiple narratives, drives and cross-sectional dialogues through the relationship the works created among themselves and within the context of the Palacio de Bellas Artes’ and the Ex Teresa’s spaces. In addition to six exhibition galleries at the Palacio, additional interior spaces, the building’s façade, and outdoor spaces came into play and incorporated interventions involving the building. Other areas of the show integrated the museum’s famed murals by Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros by interrelating them with contemporary artworks. A creative, playful education space was open to all audiences at the Bellas Artes venue.

Hélio Oiticica has famously said: “We thrive from adversity”. So it would seem that Latin America not only lives along with adversity and crisis, but, in fact, makes it some sort of a lifestyle. Oiticica’s mischievous dialectics might serve as a synthesis of both the achievements and the contradictions of the art submitted in the exhibition—and, ultimately, of the exhibition itself.

The Politics of Representation:
Latin America by number of representing artists according to Crisissss:

Cuba 16
Mexico 15
Chile 12
Colombia 7
Argentina 6
Brasil 6
Uruguay 3
Puerto Rico 3
Peru 2 
Paraguay 2
Costa Rica 2
Guatemala 2 
Spain 2
Ecuador 1
Venezuela 1
Panama 1
Nicaragua 1 
Dominicana 1
Bolivia 1
Albania 1
Lebanon 1
Honduras 0
El Salvador 0

1 comment:

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