Critics’ Picks

Buenos Aires

“60'/80'—Works from the Collection and Loans”

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba)
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415
June 15–August 13

By narrating the rise of conceptualism in Argentina along political lines, “60’/80’” recontextualizes MALBA’s collection and, in turn, the trajectory of contemporary Argentine art. Separated into three decades that parallel the years before, during, and after the military dictatorship of 1976–1982, the exhibit reveals how artistic experimentation adapted to political conditions. From Antonio Berni’s excessive materiality to Liliana Porter’s clean, conceptual serialism, the 1960s are presented as a step away from painting toward more comprehensive artistic production. In the 1970s, state terrorism forced artists to revise strategies of authorship, production, and reception. Aldo Paparella’s Useless Monument No. 92, 1971–76, showcases lack, consisting of a white pedestal, draped with fabric, displaying nothing. Created in exile, David Lamelas’s photo series “The Violent Tapes,” 1975–2005, produces a cinematic narrative of staged violence. The 1980s marked a somber new political reality, as evidenced by work such as Marcia Schvartz’s Under Flag, 1989, a painting of a grim uniformed man surrounded by collaged military images. Meanwhile, León Ferrari, Argentina’s most visible political artist, has work included in each section of the show, beginning with three tightly scrawled india-ink writings, moving toward a more abstract wire sculpture, and culminating in a series of heliographic copies resembling blueprints that seem to map movement across public spaces. While the exhibition mourns the loss the artists and institutions of the 1970s, it also inscribes resistance and recuperation into Argentine art history.