Sunday, November 09, 2008

Philagrafika trips: Argentina and Chile

Dear friends of Philagrafika:
As part of the research for Philagrafika 2010 I have been traveling in different countries, giving public talks about the festival and making studio visits. My recent trips in Argentina and Chile were very productive both in getting to know artists that are working with expanded forms of printmaking, and visiting artists or collectives that we have already invited to Philagrafika.
In Argentina I had a long conversation with Javier Barilaro, the founder and leader of the Eloisa Cartonera group. Eloisa Cartonera has been working with cardboard recyclers, some of whom are homeless, providing them with a means of expression as well as a means of survival. When we invited them to the Sao Paulo Bienal they replicated the project, and have done similar projects in Bolivia and Peru, among other cities.

Barilaro is the only one who studied art and works in the artistic realm proper; the other members are more poets, social workers or activists, and of course the cartoneros themselves.
Javier told me that the experience they had had in first world cities was completely different than in Latin America.

Barilaro has a very interesting practice of his own. I am enclosing some images.
He recycles printed materials, some of them done by him or Eloisa Cartonera, or replicates the printed look with drawing and painting. He has been doing large works or installations.

In Santiago I visited Eugenio Dittborn, one of the key figures in Latin American conceptualism, and very well known for his Airmail paintings (the New Museum in New York devoted him a retrospective some years ago). He had prepared a mini-display of his work for me to see, which was a treat since most of his works I know from books, since they spend most of the time either traveling or folded in the envelopes, awaiting to embark in a new trip.

The person in the photo with Dittborn is Alexia Tala, who is the author of “Installations and Experimental Printmaking”, a handbook soon to be published by A&C Black in London. Alexia had put together a very intense studio visit program for me, focused in alternative forms of the print. I did see some interesting work, some of it historical like Dittborn’s or Lotty Rosenfeld’s, who was invited to the last Documenta. Since the beginning of the dictatorship in Chile, Lotty has been marking the territory with crossing lines, sometimes done in tape, sometimes imprinted on the road. The message is at the same time subversive and poetic, and has never ceased to acquire new meanings whenever it is done/shown.

I saw works by other interesting artists:

She etches Perspex sheets and hangs them in various positions. Projected light creates the image by casting shadows on the wall.

Gerardo Repetto. Lives in Córdoba.
His work is closer to photography. People send him images taken with cell phones, which he then enlarges and prints digitally.

Patricio Larrambebere. He founded “ABTE” a real/fake association (the acronym stands for Agrupación Boletos Tipo Edmonton, which translates as Association of Edmonton-type Tickets). Edmonton was the inventor of the classic train (and metro) ticket that is used everywhere, the small cardboard rectangle. In reclaiming these tickets as a collector, Larrambebere is referring to the history of trains in Argentina, which were instrumental in the development of the country but that have almost disappeared because of corruption and, more recently, privatization. The ABTE organizes events in train stations, shows their collection of tickets, and published tiny “catalogs” the size of a ticket that opens like an accordion.

Agustín Blanco.
He has been working with stencils like the ones used in schools in Argentina. They provide the students with stencils of the faces of national “heros” (e.g. Bolívar), and all you have top do is draw with the stencil as a guide. It’s an interesting commentary on the role of education in the shaping of political ideology early on. He has taken other educational materials such as “simulcoop”, a letraset-type system used in public schools in Argentina, as with the stencils the public is encouraged to print their own images.

Eduardo Molinari. Has an ongoing Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne-type project titled Archivo caminante, which is quite interesting conceptually although visually not very compelling.

Camilo Yáñez. He is an artist and a curator, he will curate the upcoming MERCOSUR Bienal.
He recycles soviet graphic imagery and replaces the political signs for quotes to art history such as op-art. He then prints the images as large digital prints. He has also worked with catalogs of household objects of the Allende era.

I will be posting soon from Brazil.


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