MEMORIES THAT ARE PRESENT
Contemporary art has made memory a recurring topic (topos). In Spanish, memoria (memory) is connected to recuerdo (remembrance), from the Latin re, “again,” and cordis, “heart”: go back again through the heart, through the emotions. It is the past that becomes present when we summon it, that reoccurs from the meditative distance that comes from knowing an event happened, but that we need to feel again. A past without closure. The references and underlying meanings of the images unfold when they are investigated from the present. And the investigation of the archives can be urgent, summoning the violence exerted against bodies at different times in history (annihilation, exploitation, slavery). These archives can also be repositories of taste, part of the consumption of a recent past whose consequences intensify in the exhausted state of the world.
Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.
In (Outros) Fundamentos (Other [Foundations]), Aline Motta brings together the visual archive she made in Nigeria with a documentary archive of the experience of slavery in Brazil. The alienation she experienced on her trip interrupted her sense of belonging. It replicated the distance, the disruption, and the wound that slavery inflicted on the Brazilian social and political experience. Rio de Janeiro’s first reported Covid-19 fatality was that of a domestic worker infected by her employer, a resident of Leblon who, upon returning from a holiday in Italy, would not pay the woman who cleaned her house while in quarantine. In Brazil, there is an unofficial, social, and political apartheid. It is the poorest members of society, black and indigenous women and men, who are experiencing the highest death rates from the pandemic.
Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.
(Outros) Fundamentos is the third video of a trilogy that began a few years ago. It was part of research I was doing about my own family, about my roots. This investigation had four parts. I called the first “My Father.” I traveled with my father from Rio de Janeiro to Minas Gerais. I called part two “My Mom”— my dad is white, my mom is black. I went to a rural area of the state of Rio de Janeiro, an area of coffee plantations. I called part three “The Other,” and I went to Portugal, and called part four “Origin.” I went to Sierra Leone, and a few months later to Nigeria. This video, which is the last one, talks about my experiences in Nigeria. I was in Lagos for thirty-two days, it was very intense, very powerful, and the video tries to talk about when you feel like a foreigner in Brazil, and also about when you try to return to something that may no longer be there. With the diaspora, one tries to hold on in order to resist, you try to grasp a language, a culture, but things change; it is not the Nigeria of two hundred years ago. How is one going to face the challenge of communicating again? And my strategy was to communicate via water. If water has memory, if I can invoke water, what could it tell me? In Nigeria, this city is called Lagos, which is a word in Portuguese [meaning lakes], they gave it to them. Rio in Rio de Janeiro is the river, and in Bahia [bay] I went to this city called Cachoeira, waterfall. Three cities where there is water and that are named after the water. How could I reestablish this communication, which seeks to transcend, to communicate on another level?
Click on the images for more information
Cristina Piffer returned to the photographic archives of the Museo de La Plata to reactivate the photographs taken by Robert Lehmann-Nitsche –German physician and ethnologist– and Carlos Bruch –anthropologist- in 1906. She used the wet-collodion process, developing images with silver on glass. In Braceros, the portraits come from archives of oppression: indigenous Chiriguanos, Chorotes, Matacos, and Tobas, who were taken as prisoners in the military outpost of Gran Chaco, locked up, separated from their families, and forced to work in extreme conditions. As we watch in astonishment as the media documents the demonstrations against racist murders, these archives about those who founded the Argentine “republic” cease to belong only to the past. They point toward the pockets of poverty in the villas miserias, or slums, of Greater Buenos Aires where the pandemic is currently concentrated. At times, the images lack clarity. The printing process inscribes them in ambiguous territory, of impulses and instincts, that intensifies the relationship between an archive of the past—made visible—and its echoes that can be recognized in the present.
Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.
I feel that in order to understand the present one must understand the past, and not as something dead and gone, but rather as something that repeats itself ... The Shooting of Dorrego, the Conquest of the Desert, the Tragic Week, the Trelew Massacre, the Military Dictatorship ... you see, these events are all linked. Every once in a while, the state strikes a blow to maintain the status quo. The cruelty of the whole situation scares me. I’m working on a series of portraits of indigenous leaders who were held prisoner at the Museo de La Plata natural history museum. I was unaware of that story ... and because the story was covered up, it took me a long time to get any information. It was Mario Rufer’s reflection on a particular event that for me was a revelation: at the handover of ex ESMA to human rights organizations, a group of indigenous people showed up demanding the inclusion of the original habitants in the story told about this site of memory ... State terrorism cannot be under- stood without looking at the indigenous genocide. An unfinished genocide ... As a starting point in the Braceros series, I use German anthropologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche’s photographic records taken at the La Esperanza sugar mill, Jujuy province, in 1906. The development of sugar mills was linked to the military occupation of the Gran Chaco and these new ventures had at their disposal the indigenous population’s cheap “arms” as well as vast areas of land expropriated from that same population. The records in this series challenge the founding myth of white Argentina: projecting a country without Indians, without mixed races, without blacks. The Argentine State promoted a whitening of geographic regions and a cleansing of pre-existing populations.
Using a photographic procedure from the late nineteenth century, I develop the archival images in metallic silver on glass. The metallic silver evokes in its materiality the colonial imaginary, expressed in the successive denominations of the territory—the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and finally the Confederation, the nation and the Argentine Republic—the names of which are latinized.
[...] At Inventory (2018), Piffer transcribes with fat using the technic of serigraphy on paper, data taken from the registry of indigenous human remains that integrate the Catalogue of the Anthropological Section of La Plata Museum, compiled in 1911 by the German physician and ethnologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche. The Mapuche lonko Inacayal, one of the last indigenous chiefs to resist Roca’smilitary advance on Patagonia, was taken prisoner in 1885 by the Army and later assigned, along with eleven other people, to the Museum of La Plata, by management of his first director, the expert Francisco P. Moreno. There, they were locked up and forced to work as ordinances and pawns. After his death in 1887, the body of Inacayal was dissected and exhibited in the museum. [...]
Extract from the curatorial text Cristina Piffer. Argento. Buenos Aires, 2018.
In 1992, Marcos López photographed Elba Bairon. It is a portrait taken in black and white, with Elba posing artificially, surrounded by flowers, which was then delicately colored. In this way he introduces references to the history of the photographic portrait and its popular formats. These elements would become more exaggerated in his photography in the 1990s, giving rise to what became known as pop latino, or Latin pop. Also found here are references to popular taste, the cheap, colorful objects that run through the works of many artists of the 1990s (from Cristina Schiavi and León Ferrari to Marcelo Pombo, Jorge Gumier Maier, Liliana Maresca, and Fernanda Laguna).
Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.
We took the portrait in 1992, in the studio that we shared with the photographer RES, on Avenida Caseros right off the corner with Bolívar, where he currently lives. I bought a lot of flowers and plants and asked Liliana Maresca to help us with the session.
Liliana acted as a kind of makeup artist, hairdresser, and art director.
We actually did everything between the three of us. There were no assistants. It was just Elba, Liliana, and me.
Liliana helped me arrange the flowers on Elba’s head and the plants to cover her body.
Notably, Elba brought something to play music on, boleros and other types of romantic music.
I shot just one or two twelve-frame 6 × 6 rolls of black-and-white film.
At that time I colored some prints with transparent inks, like those used by photographers in the 1940s and 1950s. I did the printing and coloring myself.
Marcos López, Note by the artist, Buenos Aires, march 2020.
BIOGRAPHIES | CHAPTER IV
Cristina Piffer (b. 1953). Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Cristina Piffer graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the National University of Buenos Aires. She has been awarded numerous awards and recognitions, such as the preselection of the La Cruz del Sur project, with Hugo Vidal and Claudia Contreras, for the Parque de la Memoria de Bue- nos Aires (1998). Mention of the jury of the Banco de la Nación Argentina Award for Visual Arts 2000, Scholarship of the National Endowment for the Arts 2001, Artist of the year of the Association of Art Critics of Buenos Aires (2002), Honor Diploma of the Konex Awards ( 2002); She was selected as a guest artist to participate in the Puerto Rico Public Art Project (2003); The following year, she was summoned by First View for the Berlin-Buenos Aires Dialogues cultural exchange program, to carry out an urban intervention in that city (2004), among others. She was part of numerous individual and group exhibitions, among them, “La herencia indócil de los espectros”, Fundación OSDE (2019); “Democracy at work” CCK, Buenos Aires, 2018; “La mirada que separa de los brazos”, CCM Haroldo Conti, BIENALSUR (2017); “The victors and the vanquished”, Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); “Neocolonial”, MALBA - Latin American Museum of Buenos Aires, Argentina, (2011); “Radical Change”, Morsbroich Museum, Germany (2011); “The bowels of art”, Imago, Fundación OSDE (2008); “30 years, 30 artists”, Centro Cultural Recoleta (2006); “Como carne y uña”, Centro Cultural Borges (1998). She participated in the II Biennial of Bahía Blanca (1997), in the III Iberoamerican Biennial of Peru (2002) and in the San Pablo-Valencia Biennial, Valencia, Spain (2007). Her work is part of the following private and institutional collections: National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA), Argentina; Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina; Museum of Contemporary Art of Rosario (MACRO), Argentina; Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires (MAMBA), Argentina; Museum of Contemporary Art of Bahía Blanca, Argentina; ArteBA Foundation, Argentina; Bodegas Lavis, Italy. Lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Aline Motta (b. 1974). Niteroí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. Aline earned a bachelor degree in Communication Studies at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a Certificate in Film Production at the New School University/New York. She combines different techniques and artistic practices, merging photography, video, installation, performance, sound art, collage, and textile materials. Her research seeks to reveal other corporalities, create meaning, resignify memories and elaborate other forms of existence. She has received the Rumos Itaú Cultural 2015/2016 grant, earned the ZUM Photography Scholarship of Instituto Moreira Salles in 2018 and the prestigious “Marcantonio Vilaça Award for the Arts” in 2019. She recently participated in groundbreaking exhibitions such as “Feminist Histories” - São Paulo Art Museum/MASP, “Afro-Atlantic Histories” - MASP / Tomie Ohtake and “The River of the Navigators”- Rio Art Museum/MAR.
Elba Bairon (b. 1947). La Paz, Bolivia. In 1967 she settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She is considered one of the main artists of her generation working in sculpture in Argentina. She has been exhibiting her works since the Eighties. She has participated in shows at Centro Cultural Rojas, Fundación Telefónica, Centro Cultural Recoleta, Museo de Arte de Bahía Blanca, Argentina; Instituto Italo Latinoamericano Rome, Italy, Centro Cultural Cándido Mendes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Art Basel, ARCO Madrid, Art Frankfurt. En 2015 presented a seminal solo exhibition at MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. She has been awarded the Fisrt Prize from Klemm Fouindation and the Grand Prize at Salón Nacional Nuevos Soportes. Her works integrate the collections of all major museums in Argentina and in numerous private collections.
Marcos López (b. 1958). Santa Fe, Argentina.
He has represented Argentina in various international biennials, in the 1st Photoquai World Images Biennial in Paris, France, and in the tenth Plastic Arts Biennial in Havana, Cuba. He has been awarded numerous awards and recognitions, such as the Pilar Citoler International Photography Prize (2008) and the Platinum Konex for his career (2012), among others. He has published numerous books such as Portraits (1993 and reissued in 2006), Latin Pop (2000), Creole Sub-realism (2003), The Player (2007), Latin Pop Plus (2007) and Marcos López Photographs 1978 - 2010 (2010 ). His work has been cataloged in important national and international leading publications such and he has made numerous individual and group exhibitions in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, Cuba, Spain, France, Italy , Finland, Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands, among others. Today, his work integrates the collections of the Reina Sofía National Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla y León in Spain, the Daros-Latin America Foundation in Switzerland, Quai Branly, among other public and private collections. Lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina..
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