From November 19, 2013 to April 6, 2014, the Fondation Cartier pour lart contemporain
is presenting América Latina 1960-2013, coproduced with the Museo Amparo in Puebla (Mexico). The exhibition offers a new perspective on Latin American photography from 1960 to today, focusing on the relationship between text and the photographic image.
Bringing together more than seventy artists from eleven different countries, it reveals the great diversity of photographic practices by presenting the work of documentary photographers as well as that of contemporary artists who appropriate the medium in different ways.
This unique presentation provides the visitor with the opportunity to delve into the history of the region and to rediscover the works of major artists rarely exhibited in Europe.
Latin America: A Fascinating Region
Over centuries, Latin America has fascinated observers as much as it has mystified them; there is a sense of the exotic that derives perhaps from it having once been perceived as a new world. Today, while contemporary Latin American culture has received much attention, the historical circumstances surrounding its production are often less widely explored. The exhibition América Latina covers the period from 1960 the year following the Cuban revolution to today. In many Latin American countries, this period has been marked by political and economic instability, and has seen a succession of revolutionary movements and repressive military regimes, the emergence of guerilla movements as well as transitions toward democracy. By exploring the interaction between text and image in the art of Latin America over the course of the last fifty years, the exhibition provides a vivid look into this tumultuous period of history through the eyes of the artists.
Photography and Text in a Shifting World
During the era covered by the exhibition, when the climate of political upheaval required an urgent response, many Latin American artists increasingly sought to escape media specificity by bringing text and image together in their work. This new visual approach provided them with an effective tool for expressing themselves and communicating, as photography is a medium that rapidly and realistically records reality while text provides a way of expanding or altering the meaning of the image. Through these formalistic inventions the artists tried to portray the complexity and violence of the world around them and in some cases to sidestep censorship. In the 1980s the Chilean artist Eugenio Dittborn created airmail paintings which were folded up and sent all over the world, circumventing Chiles cultural isolation under Pinochet. As for Miguel Rio Branco, a figurehead of Brazilian photography, he has depicted the underclass of a two-tiered society in a highly poetic manner.
A Diversity of Artists and Practices
América Latina traces this bond between text and image, showing how artists have harnessed the resulting tensions to explore Latin America as a geographical concept.
Divided into four sections that reflect these key ideas Territories, The Urban Landscape, Information and Resistance, Memory and Identity the exhibition presents the myriad ways in which Latin American artists have seized new modes of expression, and of reproduction, to explore their reality. Expanding from traditional notions of the photographic print, it thus encompasses a wide range of media including photo-offset printing, silk-screening and collages, as well as film, performance, video and installation.
For example, Brazilian artist Regina Silvera explores stereotypical ideas about Latin America in To Be Continued
(Latin American Puzzle), an enormous mural puzzle that she created out of images appropriated from magazines and tourist guides. Using a more traditional photographic approach, Venezuelas Paolo Gasparini captures the visual cacophony of signs engendered by rapid urban development. Using a digital printing technique to reproduce images from the popular press, Argentinian artist Juan Carlos Romero graphically denounces the rampant violence in Argentine society in his work entitled Violencia. A video called Bocas de Ceniza (Mouths of Ash), by Columbian artist Juan Manuel Echavarría, portrays those who use poetry and song to relate their personal experiences of guerilla-related violence.
Discovering Remarkable Voices
A film commissioned by the Fondation Cartier and realized by the Paraguayan photographer and director Fredi Casco gives a voice to many of the artists presented in the exhibition. Fredi Casco travelled throughout Latin America to interview 30 of the more than 70 artists included in the exhibition. These exclusive interviews provide revealing portraits of historical value offering rare and personal insight into each artists creative process and the context in which he or she works.
Including over 400 works, América Latina highlights kinships in sensibilities across generations and countries, reflecting a richness of voices and a diversity of visual languages. It chronicles the vital legacy of Latin American artists, showing how their influence extends beyond their immediate creative circles to an audience outside the region. A large body of work from Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay reveals the significance of art scenes that have remained outside mainstream channels, bringing visitors a more complete and dynamic understanding of their influence on the world of contemporary art.