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View of “Juan Downey,” 2013. From left: World Map, 1979; Video Trans Americas, 1973–76.

Juan Downey

Museo Tamayo

View of “Juan Downey,” 2013. From left: World Map, 1979; Video Trans Americas, 1973–76.

By no means a mere retrospective, “Juan Downey: Una Utopia de la Comunicación” (Juan Downey: A Communications Utopia) was structured around a specific agenda: cybernetics. This well-researched and elegantly installed exhibition portrayed the Chilean-born, longtime New York–based artist as a video-art pioneer, conceptual architect, and gonzo anthropologist. Claiming cybernetics to be the theoretical hobbyhorse behind much of Downey’s production, curator Julieta González used it to trace a path through the various periods of the artist’s heterogeneous practice over the course of almost three decades, embodied in drawings, paintings, single-channel videos, video installations, and documentation. Citing specific examples from Downey’s oeuvre, such as a booklet of interviews randomly governed by a system of yes and no responses (A Novel, 1969), González emphasized the nontechnological

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