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Curatorial Practices
Report from Rosario, Argentina
by Roberto Amigo

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At the last Documenta in Kassel, the work of Fabian Marcaccio (1963), the Argentine artist based in New York, made a great impact. Not only because of its formal complexity - based on a personal investigation of the artistic in an information society, derived from his philosophical studies - but also because of the price paid for his work. Apart from market considerations, always omnipresent in an evaluation of contemporary art following the loss of a grand narrative, the creative vitality of some Rosarian artists, already present on the international scene, should not be overlooked.

Among these artists Graciela Sacco (1956) stands out. For a number of years she has undertaken urban interventions using a singular technique: heliographic impressions. However, it is not the technical aspect upon which the uniqueness of her work is based. When, during the nineties, an aesthetics of meaninglessness, the idea of arte light and self-reflective individualism among young artists (in line with the political domination of the "culture of Menemism," i.e. the neo-conservatism of the Presidential government of Carlos Menem), began to dominate, the work of Sacco investigated the gaze of the other; the urban political revolution and, at the same time, problems of perception, such as instant and shadow. The political roots of her artistic practice are possibly a result of her academic reflection on political art in the sixties (especially Tucumán Arde, an emblematic episode of political conceptualism and of the connections between art and the political revolution at the end of that decade). Moreover, Sacco did not deny the poetic value of artistic creation; expressively with her heliographic wings, and expressly when the popular revolution is reduced to the instant of confrontation between groups in the streets. Naturally, Sacco is here in dialogue with the emblematic paintings of Argentine art, such as Manifestación by Antonio Berni (both works share the intensity of individual gestures, an ability to serve as a collective social portrait, and they are both the expression of profound socio-economic crises, those of the thirties and the nineties).

If Marcaccio and Sacco are perhaps the artists with greatest international exposure who are linked to Rosario, there are others who do not lag far behind. A brief presentation of some of these artists could be of interest, although inevitably some artists will have to be left out. I have therefore selected the works of Claudia del Rí­o (1957), Carlos Trilnick (1957), Daniel Garcí­a (1958), Nicola Costantino (1964) and Román Vitali (1969).

The work of Claudia del Rí­o is based on different reflections and supports. Traces of visual memory are recovered by means of different series of photographs. Images find meaning in juxtaposition or through artist-designed assembly on walls. Some give rise to tremendous melancholy, such as posing boxers, torn from old magazines. In the series Bubones, photographs are intervened upon with resin. The word bubones refers to illness, to the plague. Within the blisters formed by the resin are other images, other faces. At the Havana Biennial in 1997 the artist exhibited a group of 93 aluminum plates with an equal number of women's photographs, taken from magazines or polaroids. In this case the resin veiled and cracked the faces. Reinaldo Laddaga has rightly said that Claudia del Rí­o is obsessed by networks "as though before solid ground, the solidity of the soil, for her there existed the variable connections of networks, anarchical communications between which there is no connection" (Claudia del Rí­o, Museo Castagnino, 2000). This dominant idea of networks, installed on walls, is asserted still more in La enfermedad es la ruta: a thousand pills of different shapes, colored and transparent, with an hourly inscription. Present time as nostalgia becomes here a painful record with pharmacological precision. In another installation, Claudia del Rí­o presented small white cloths bordered with headlines cut from the police records of the newspapers. These cloths possibly go back to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, suggesting that perhaps all crimes are political crimes.

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