Critics’ Picks

Voluspa Jarpa, Algunos estamos amenazados de muerte (Some of Us Were Threatened with Death), 2016, slideshow, dimensions variable.

Voluspa Jarpa, Algunos estamos amenazados de muerte (Some of Us Were Threatened with Death), 2016, slideshow, dimensions variable.

Buenos Aires

Voluspa Jarpa

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba)
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415
July 15–October 3, 2016

The assassinations and espionage operations carried out in Latin America by the Central Intelligence Agency from 1948 to 1994 are the basis of Chilean artist Voluspa Jarpa’s aesthetic criticism in this show. “En nuestra pequeña región de por acá” (In Our Little Region Over Here) revolves around the deaths and disappearances of forty-seven emblematic Cold War–era Latin American political leaders. The works on view have a number of commonalities: They are the product of fifteen years of research on the relationship between different Latin American governments and the CIA, and through many declassified CIA documents, they show erasure and censorship. The works in the exhibition also formulate a compelling hypothesis, indebted, perhaps, to Frances S. Saunders’s work on the funding of the CIA and the development of some North American cultural institutions and of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Jarpa’s critique points out that while the US was coordinating and undertaking shady political operations in alliance with secret organizations throughout Latin America, it was also bolstering Minimalism. In a context of elaborate acts of foul play and plans to put down social and economic demands, a “clean” and seemingly apolitical abstract aesthetic was taking hold. Jarpa envisions Donald Judd’s cubes—which the artist replicates and intervenes on here—as the symbol of that relationship.

While a large site-specific installation takes center stage in the exhibition, a small piece displayed in a tucked-away hallway of the museum is also of interest. The installation, Algunos estamos amenazados de muerte (Some of Us Were Threatened with Death), 2016, consists of a slide projection of images related to the deaths of prominent figures and the positions they held (bishops, senators, presidents). This work reveals, in a discreet and subtle fashion, the underbelly of public life.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.