Category: Print Content

Homeland’s Agenda: Electoral Autocracy (The Venezuelan Case, 2016)

Homeland’s Agenda: Electoral Autocracy (The Venezuelan Case, 2016), a video-collage transcript, creates a general equivalence of media—public government broadcasting, propaganda, diverse Internet corporate news channels, pop music lyrics, video testimonials of disparate polish—so that each successive clip does not dominate the others. The result is a distillation of content lead by form and supported by a transcript translation that reveals a complex situation that is otherwise unreachable for audiences not initiated into the Venezuelan geopolitical context. The sourced material spans the period from 2011 to 2016, bearing witness to the emergence of a national humanitarian crisis and ensuing civil protests … Read more

Neoliberalism in Mexican Cultural Theory

This essay reviews two theoretical books on neoliberalism written by Mexican cultural critics: Capitalismo gore (Gore Capitalism), by Sayak Valencia, published originally in Spanish in 2010 and translated into English in 2018, and La tiranía del sentido común ( The Tyranny of Common Sense) by Irmgard Emmelhainz, published in Spanish in 2016 and yet to be translated into English. These works are pioneering in their discussion of the correlation between neoliberalism, subjectivity, and culture in Mexico, and they have become widely influential in broader discussions of art, visual culture, literature, and cultural production. They add to the work of economic … Read more

The Documentary Films of José Gómez Sicre and the Pan American Union Visual Arts Department

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Visual Arts Department of the Pan American Union, headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., produced nearly fifty 16mm documentary short films on topics ranging from contemporary art to heritage sites and OAS member countries. This article focuses on a cluster of three titles about Peru directed by curator and critic José Gómez Sicre between approximately 1964 and 1968. Produced with funding from an international affiliate of Esso Standard Oil, the films were shot on location and demonstrate careful attention to the contexts of art production within an emerging cultural … Read more

International Indeterminacy: George Maciunas and the Mail

The term “network” has often been used to characterize Fluxus’s internationalism and to identify its membership. This has led a number of scholars to argue that Fluxus anticipated forms of artistic exchange now associated with Internet-based art. More recently, it has cast Fluxus as a precedent for applying a network model to other transcontinental avant-gardes, particularly in curatorial practice. Yet in the rush to relate Fluxus to contemporary discourses on global connectivity, insufficient attention has been paid to the specific apparatuses that facilitated its cohesion. This article stages an intervention into Fluxus studies (and by extension Conceptual art, mail art, … Read more

“Passion of the Same”: Cacique de Ramos and the Multidão

This article analyzes a series of photographs taken by the Brazilian artist Carlos Vergara between 1972 and 1975 that picture the Rio de Janiero-based carnival bloco Cacique de Ramos, whose characteristic black-and-white costumes fantastically approximate indigenous Amerindian attire. Taken at the height of the military dictatorship, when the pressure to conform to a singular nationalist identity was extreme, the photographs probe the potentialities and desire for group identification within a structure of horizontal rather than hierarchical affiliation. The essay argues that the photographs offer of speculative paradigm of intersubjective identification: a mapping of difference from deep within what the Brazilian … Read more

Introduction to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s “The Equal and the Different”

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s text, “The Equal and the Different,” was written circa 1975 at the request of the Brazilian artist Carlos Vergara, who had recently completed a series of photographs devoted the Rio de Janeiro-based carnival group, Cacique de Ramos. Viveiros de Castro, then an anthropology student at the Museu Nacional, locates in Cacique de Ramos a unique model of individual-group dynamics, one based neither on social hierarchy nor conformity, but mimesis and ecstatic deindividualization: a “passion of the same,” as he writes, that emerges from deep within Western society.

Fold, Hexagonal

Fold, Hexagonal presents the impossibility of entering into the language of others and suggests the ways in which such an exclusion can open up a space of imagination around words. This space of imagination includes the visual and bodily experiences of language as well as the physical space that writing occupies. The “Hexagonal” of the title alludes to the infinite hexagonal rooms featured in Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Library of Babel” and also evokes an open-ended linguistic space. The project features hexagonal forms staged on folded, lined paper, reflected and fragmented by multiple mirrors that alter their directions … Read more

The Senses Pointing Toward a New Transformation

Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Towards a New Transformation” was written between June 18 and June 25, 1969, in London and submitted to the British art magazine Studio International, but never appeared in print. The essay negotiates art after objecthood and contextualises Oiticica’s project to effect a definitive radicalization of anti-art, one that the artist held to be necessary in light of the impasse reached by the longstanding conflict between formalist art and its various neo-avant-garde negations (both within the Brazilian and the international neo-avant-gardes). For Oiticica, after both Neoconcretism and Minimalism, it was now the process of art making … Read more

Introduction to Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Toward a New Transformation” (1969)

Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Towards a New Transformation” was written between June 18 and June 25, 1969, in London and submitted to the British art magazine Studio International, but never appeared in print. The essay negotiates art after objecthood and contextualises Oiticica’s project to effect a definitive radicalization of anti-art, one that the artist held to be necessary in light of the impasse reached by the longstanding conflict between formalist art and its various neo-avant-garde negations (both within the Brazilian and the international neo-avant-gardes). For Oiticica, after both Neoconcretism and Minimalism, it was now the process of art making … Read more

The Howling Wilderness of the Maladaptive Struggle in Belgrade in New York

Between 1974 and 1975, Zoran Popović, a conceptual artist from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and his wife Jasna Tijardović, an art historian, spent a year in New York. During that time they engaged closely with the New York Art and Language group. This friendship and collaboration resulted in a rare instance of East-West exchange in Conceptual art: Popović and Tijardović published both co-authored and individual articles in the US journal The Fox, and members of Art and Language (Mel Ramsden, Michael Corris, and Jill Breakstone) gave a seminar in Belgrade’s Student Cultural Center in the fall of 1975. One of the most … Read more

Durable Remains: Indigenous Materialisms in Duane Linklater: From Our Hands

This review essay addresses the complex significance of materiality in From Our Hands, a recent site-specific installation at New York City’s 80WSE Gallery produced by Duane Linklater, an Omaskêko Cree artist from Northern Ontario. Situating Linklater’s practice as an instance of indigenous institutional critique––an approach that re-functions postconceptual artistic strategies in accordance with the distinct aesthetic, political, and ontological concerns of colonized native populations––the essay examines the ways in which such work might disable longstanding assumptions at a moment when indigenous contemporary art is receiving increased attention. In addition to materiality, the text focuses on a group of qualities with … Read more

Ideas of Reality: Antonio Dias between Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Milan

Despite the fact that the growing reception of Antonio Dias (b. 1944) in the English-speaking world is happening under the sign of global art history, the trajectory of the Brazilian artist in the 1960s and 1970s actually suggests both a counter-genealogy and a counter-geography of the global. This essay explores this situation by recontextualizing Dias’s emergence vis-à-vis the critical debate on realism and underdevelopment that marked the Rio de Janeiro avant-gardist scene of the mid- to late-1960s and involved writers such as Ferreira Gullar, Hélio Oiticica, Mário Pedrosa, Pierre Restany, and Frederico Morais. It subsequently argues that such critical terms … Read more

Pop as Translation Strategy: Makishi Tsutomu’s Political Pop in Okinawa

This essay makes the first sustained study of the Okinawan artist Makishi Tsutomu (1941–2015) who used American Pop Art vocabularies to describe the complex realities of US-occupied Okinawa. Focusing on his 1972 installation Commemorating the Reversion to the Great Empire of Japan, the essay examines the critical ambivalence of Makishi’s Political Pop as a translation strategy. Despite his critique of both American and Japanese imperialism, Makishi was aware that Okinawa was inseparably entangled in it, especially in the context of the Vietnam War, which brought violence, but also economic benefits, to Okinawa. Despite his use of the American Pop idiom … Read more

The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics

The introductory essay places “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics” (1920), a piece of early criticism written by the Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida during the first year he lived in Mexico City, within the contexts of the cosmopolitan milieu of post-Revolutionary Mexico and the artist’s own trajectory. It suggests that the text both demonstrates intellectuals’ interest in questions of form and national art and Mérida’s desire to provide a critical framework for his own paintings of indigenous Guatemalan and Mexican women. In “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics,” … Read more

The Two-Fold Global Turn

This essay is a review of art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu’s Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015). The book offers a chronicle of artistic theories, practices, and institutions during Nigeria’s independence years (1957–67) amid the historical frames of Third World liberation, African decolonization, and Cold War realpolitik. The essay explores in particular how Postcolonial Modernism revisits and explores the thematic of “national culture”—the concept presented by Frantz Fanon in 1959, with long-lasting impact on theories of postcolonial arts—in the (decentralized) Nigerian art world, with a focus on the synthetic studio practices of members of the … Read more

Realism Today?

For this roundtable we invited several respondents to reflect upon both the history and the present of artistic realism. We ask how its various revivals might be regarded as part of a long trajectory of “Western” art and aesthetics, and how such revivals might be triggered by discourses outside of contemporary art. If a new aesthetics of realism were possible today, how would it differ from its multiple historical antecedents? Is realism in its various modes an obsolete artistic form or style of the past (like baroque painting or modernist collage) that is as such incompatible with the modes of … Read more

Realism + Its Discontents: Determinism Noir

This short comic based narrative depicts the challenges to and climate of an alternative form of realism in the art-world as a new project for art’s politics and construction. Determinism Noir, Realism and Its Discontents calls upon the classic genre of noir narratives to situate themes of agency, mastery, rationalism and metaphysics. These ideas and images are generated in the nihilistic climate of alienation, itself borne out through the machinic, technological and capitalistic forces of the Twentieth Century. The comic presents three parts: first we see the formation of a project base to insinuate a rational determinism: A world of … Read more

“The Wrong Building, in the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time”: Marcel Breuer and the Grand Central Tower Controversy, 1967–1969

In the late 1960s, New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a scandalous proposal submitted by Marcel Breuer and Associates to float a fifty-five-story office tower in the air rights above Grand Central Terminal. The tendency among historians has been to treat Breuer’s tower as an act of vandalism, but this article argues that such an interpretation obscures the real political and economic stakes of the controversy. In fact, Breuer’s design uncovered the single-minded profit orientation of development interests and the preservationists who opposed the scheme operated less on behalf of a landmark threatened with defacement than against an economy of … Read more

Introduction to Carlos Mérida’s “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán”

The introductory essay places “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics” (1920), a piece of early criticism written by the Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida during the first year he lived in Mexico City, within the contexts of the cosmopolitan milieu of post-Revolutionary Mexico and the artist’s own trajectory. It suggests that the text both demonstrates intellectuals’ interest in questions of form and national art and Mérida’s desire to provide a critical framework for his own paintings of indigenous Guatemalan and Mexican women. In “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics,” … Read more

Meanwhile in China … Miao Ying and the Rise of Chinternet Ugly

This article examines a series of internet artworks by the artist Miao Ying (b. 1985). Contextualizing her digital collages in relation to China’s online culture and media spheres, it situates the contemporary art world’s engagement with internet art in relation to anti-aesthetics and the rise of what has been termed Internet ugly. Interrogating the assumption that internet art emerging from China can only belatedly repeat works of Euro-American precedent, it argues that Miao’s work presents a dramatic reframing of online censorship, consumerism and the unique aspects of vernacular culture that have emerged within China’s online realm. Demonstrating a distinctly self-conscious … Read more

Responses to “Art, Society/Text: A Few Remarks on the Current Relations of the Class Struggle in the Fields of Literary Production and Literary Ideologies”

The present dossier compiles brief responses to the anonymously published “Art, Society/ Text: A Few remarks on the Current Relations of the Class Struggle in the Fields of Literary Production and Literary Ideologies” (1975), from five scholars working in the fields of philosophy, literary theory and Marxism, as well as Latin American and Asian studies. First published in the Slovenian journal Problemi-Razprave (Problems-Debates) and first translated in an excerpted form in ARTMargins (October 2016), the text and its responses raise a series of questions about the specificity of art and literature as signifying practices in the wake of modernist autonomy; … Read more

Introduction to Amir Esbati, “The Student Movement of May 1968 and the Fine Art Students”

This text introduces the translation of Amir Esbati’s essay “The Student Movement [Revolt] of May 1968 and the Fine Art Students,” first published in Labour and Art in Tehran in 1980. In the midst of the Iranian Revolution political and aesthetic upheaval, Amir Esbati, a member of the Marxist Group 57 student organisation, observed the following in the local revue Labour and Art in December 1978: “The walls of the city have become like the pages of a popular history book, so specific that we can tell the date and time of each sign or inscription.” This introduction looks at … Read more

Vik Muniz’s Pictures of Garbage and the Aesthetics of Poverty

This essay focuses on Brazilian–American artist Vik Muniz’s 2008 Pictures of Garbage and the pendant 2010 documentary on their making, Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker. Muniz enlists a group of Brazilian garbage pickers as subjects and participants in the construction of their own portraits, using garbage picked from a landfill outside of Rio de Janeiro. The use of garbage as a material draws attention to global patterns of exploitation that produce both the waste itself and the poverty of the garbage pickers. However, this essay argues that Muniz’s social aims are undermined by formal incoherences within the portraits and … Read more

Juan Downey’s Ethnographic Present

Recorded between 1976 and 77, Juan Downey’s video experiments with the Yanomami people have been widely celebrated as offering a critique of traditional anthropology through their use of feedback technology. This article argues, however, that close attention to the different feedback situations the artist constructs with the group reveal a more complex relationship between Downey and that discipline. In the enthusiasm he manifests for synchronous, closed-circuit video feedback in many of his statements about his Yanomami project, Downey in fact tacitly affirms some of the most problematic principles of traditional anthropology. In his emphasis on the real-time quality of this … Read more

Pop on the Move

In International Pop, the curators Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan propose a new reading of Pop that establishes a set of relationships marked by difference. Theirs is a world riven by disconnection over flow, in which migrations and networks are frequently translated, blocked, or interrupted. While the US mass media provided source material for many artists it was often reworked to other ends. While many narratives of Pop have stressed distance and irony here we witnessed a new version of the moment that made a virtue out of intimacy, politics, and desire.

The Student Movement of May 1968 and the Fine Art Students

This text introduces the translation of Amir Esbati’s essay “The Student Movement [Revolt] of May 1968 and the Fine Art Students,” first published in Labour and Art in Tehran in 1980. In the midst of the Iranian Revolution political and aesthetic upheaval, Amir Esbati, a member of the Marxist Group 57 student organisation, observed the following in the local revue Labour and Art in December 1978: “The walls of the city have become like the pages of a popular history book, so specific that we can tell the date and time of each sign or inscription.” This introduction looks at … Read more

Colophon as a Marginal Witness

“Graphic design” was not a proper term until the beginning of the twentieth century. This led to confusion in credits/authorship for book covers, typography, which was exacerbated by the fact that printers, in addition to being in charge of the production process of books, were also making decisions regarding their finishings. Venezuela presents an interesting chapter in the history of publishing in the world given the hybrid character of publishing in the country in which traditional national artists, illustrators, and publicists comprised a mix of European and North American immigrants. The lack of current bibliographic material inspired me, as a … Read more

The Politics of Color in the Arctic Landscape: Blackness at the Center of Frederic Edwin Church’s Aurora Borealis and the Legacy of 19th-Century Limits of Representation

American painter Frederic Edwin Church’s monumental oil painting Aurora Borealis (1865) presents a stark contrast to the dominant Western tradition of representing the Arctic as monochrome and static. This article discusses how the impressive palette of Aurora Borealis and its black semi-circle in the center allow for a revisionist understanding of Church’s contributions to a rich history of Arctic representation, including in an age of climate change and rapidly melting ice. The article connects Aurora Borealis to emerging lens technologies—especially photography and astronomy, and later the cinema and composite satellite imagery, to argue for circumpolar north as globally connected—then, and … Read more

Oscar Bony’s La Familia Obrera: The Labor and the Work

This article analyzes Oscar Bony’s work La Familia Obrera (1968), in which a working class family sat on view in the gallery of the Instituto Di Tella in Buenos Aires. What might be read from the transformation of a working class family into a work of art? How was Bony’s own artistic labor reconfigured in the process? How did Bony’s display of a working class family engage with both the context of the Instituto Di Tella—an extension of Argentina’s most prominent industrial company—and the demands for productivity made by the developmentalist dictatorship of Juan Carlos Onganía? In other words, how … Read more