María Gainza

  • “MIRTHA DERMISACHE: BECAUSE I WRITE!”

    With her illegible, spidery scribbles, Argentinean-born Mirtha Dermisache (1940–2012) explored the frontiers of writing—the zone where writing and drawing became one. The springboard for these decades-long investigations was her groundbreaking 1966–67 work Libro n˚1 (Book No. 1), a five-hundred-page volume with not a single recognizable word. But for all her sophistication and audacity, few Argentineans know Dermisache’s work. Now MALBA’s comprehensive survey—the artist’s first retrospective—promises to reshape the reception of her art both in her

  • Santiago Villanueva

    The question is recurrent in art: how to escape history’s compulsion to categorize and pigeonhole? The answer given by Santiago Villanueva differs in each of his shows, thereby adding new layers of meaning. The artist seems to think art history is a sort of conspiracy, a collective attempt to falsely simplify experience into manageable parcels. Two years ago, at nineteen—an absurdly young age to be pondering the manipulations of history—Villanueva created a series of prints that read as a world art history running parallel to the official one but included only very minor works by major

  • Sebastián Gordín

    When Sebastián Gordín began constructing miniature stage sets in the late 1980s, his friends nicknamed him “the bricklayer.” Twenty years later, in one of those intellectual upgrades that sometimes occur in the art world, the writer Graciela Speranza defined him as a postindustrial homo faber. Yet Gordín had continued building in the same vein: mini buildings, mini cinemas, mini stage sets made of wood, Plexiglas, and the like. In these setups, the fantastic was ever present: here a futuristic laboratory in which little men could be seen working at computers, there a bunch of children running

  • Rosana Schoijett

    In 1904, as Virginia Woolf lay in bed suffering from a nervous breakdown, she reported hearing birds singing in Greek. Later, the birds in her novel The Waves would play a striking role paralleling the developing consciousness of the characters. A similar metaphorical parallelism between birds and the human psyche permeates Rosana Schoijett’s splendid collages.

    Schoijett creates images that trip over themselves with narratives that at times even contradict one another the way only collage can: In Untitled (all works 2010), the coy mistress of Vermeer’s painting The Girl with a Wineglass, circa

  • Fabián Bercic

    Trying to find one’s way through Fabián Bercic’s maze of twisted shapes, to follow the interwoven coils of ornament in his recent exhibition “Natural,” was an exciting challenge. Even more astonishing was to see that such sophisticated patterns of design and color were made out of the most banal of materials: plastic—or, more specifically, polyester resin. But the lavish designs and cheap material seemed curiously at ease with each other, as if some kind of syncretism had occurred. The combination gave the objects the appearance—the shiny gloss, the perfect finish—of a souvenir. Except for their

  • Carlos Huffmann

    After seeing Carlos Huffmann’s recent show, you might think that the artist’s own private bible has become The Atrocity Exhibition, the 1970 collection of experimental writings by J. G. Ballard, the science-fiction prophet of the postindustrial world. Like the English author, Huffmann tells of the ways in which the mass media invades and splinters the private mind of the individual, creating enigmatic scenes in which bodies and landscapes are confused. “A hundred-foot-long panel that appeared to represent a section of a sand dune. Looking at it more closely, Dr. Nathan realized that in fact it

  • Eduardo Basualdo

    As in a Shakespearean tragedy, atmosphere plays an unusual role in Eduardo Basualdo’s exhibitions. The scenes unfold in faint light: The vision of the dagger, the witches’ dance, the sleepwalking lady, the glimmerings of the sky, occur at the hour when “night’s black agents to their prey do rouse.” We could be describing Macbeth, but we are not; rather, this was Basualdo’s latest and eeriest exhibition, “Todo lo contrario” (Quite the Opposite).

    Here, a story about necromancy and witchery was conjured out of scenes that occurred simultaneously around the space. Light was the focus of the show, a

  • Flávio de Carvalho

    In 1931, the engineer, avant-garde artist, and playwright Flávio de Carvalho (1899–1973) walked counter to the flow of a religious procession in São Paulo, flirting with the female participants.

    In 1931, the engineer, avant-garde artist, and playwright Flávio de Carvalho (1899–1973) walked counter to the flow of a religious procession in São Paulo, flirting with the female participants. The artist considered it a performance, or “experiência.” The media regarded him as loony and soon buried him beneath the myth. Curator Moreira Leite has dug through the layers of spectacle, reexamining the provocateur’s legacy in this retrospective of more than fifty works—from “romantic revolutionary” architectural projects (as Le Corbusier described them) to interventions

  • Sergio De Loof

    A prince and a pauper, Sergio De Loof has been a luminary in the Buenos Aires scene since the 1980s, an artist with an unusual ability to captivate the fashion world, the underground, and the intellectual establishment. He founded mythical bars like Bolivia and discos like El Dorado, decorating the places himself by fusing the garbage found on the streets with runway fashion and transforming everything into an installation. He designed clothes out of discarded materials and later edited Wipe, an arty magazine the size of a folded handkerchief. De Loof once proclaimed himself a scavenger with a

  • Liliana Maresca

    Myriad romantic interpretations have transformed Liliana Maresca into a myth: the housewife who abandons the comfort of home out of devotion to art, the beauty whom everyone fell for, the victim of an early and tragic death. This show, “Transmutaciones,” a coproduction with the Castagnino Museum of Rosario (where it was previously shown), was the first retrospective of Maresca’s work since the one that took place in 1994, the year she died of HIV at the age of forty-three. Thoughtfully curated by Adriana Lauria, it proved a well-deserved homage that untangled many of the inaccuracies surrounding

  • Diego Bianchi

    It was not easy to get there. To reach the top you had to climb a steep, precarious-looking wooden ramp, with just a fraying rope suspended from the ceiling to hold on to. Having reached the top, you found a choreographed spectacle of chaos and mayhem, a blizzard of sounds and images—a camouflage tent, a series of yellow glue sticks and blue-and-white bottles of glue placed side by side like enemy armies, a television playing MTV and ESPN, mud volcanoes, bricks hanging precariously by strings from the ceiling, fruits and vegetable evoking genitalia, loaves of bread covered by weevils, football

  • Daniel Joglar

    In 1912, Alfred Wegener, the father of the theory of continental drift, presented extensive evidence showing that some two hundred million years ago the world’s continents were all joined into a single supercontinent, which he called Pangaea. As the seafloor spread, Pangaea broke up and the continents began to drift apart, eventually assuming their present positions. Four years ago, Daniel Joglar used the name Pangaea as the title of a work consisting of dozens of colored cardboard layers hung on the walls slightly askew, evoking tectonic plates in constant movement but also expressing the basis