Antonio Dias (1944–2018) was a Brazilian artist and graphic designer. He was a prominent figure of the concrete and Tropicália movements.
The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) is delighted to announce the opening of the exhibition The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, curated by Nicolás Guagnini, in its New York City space. This event marks the second installment of ISLAA’s new on-site exhibitions program, whose inaugural series features guest curators and focuses on conceptual art movements across Latin America.
The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years assembles key works of South American contestatory public art from 1968 to 1979: a flag by Antonio Dias (Brazilian) and documentation of actions by Horacio Zabala (Argentine), Lotty Rosenfeld (Chilean), and CADA (Colectivo Acciones de Arte, Chilean), a group comprising Raúl Zurita, Fernando Balcells, Diamela Eltit, Lotty Rosenfeld, and Juan Castillo.
The exhibition foregrounds a historical moment pervaded by political repression and brutality, which gave rise to symbolic and often surreptitious modes of artistic production. Throughout South America, military dictatorships rose and fell with backing from the Cold War–era Operation Condor, a US foreign policy platform referenced in the show’s title, whose disastrous consequences transformed daily life—and contemporary art practices. Where artists could not explicitly represent violent realities, they turned to allusive and public interventions to mount dissent. As such, the exhibition invokes Alexander Kluge’s notion of the “counter-public sphere,” a critical response to Jürgen Habermas’s concept of the “public sphere” of social life, to describe artworks that undermine authoritarian control through indirect but publicly visible means.
ISLAA is proud to offer an accompanying publication with essays by Nicolás Guagnini and Tobi Maier, which is available at our space and online. We are also pleased to share copies of Horacio Zabala’s 300 metros de cinta negra para enlutar una plaza pública 1972–2012, a hardbound bilingual book documenting one of the exhibition’s featured artworks.
ISLAA’s inaugural exhibition series and its related publications integrate with our extensive archival holdings of resources on Latin American conceptualism. Relevant to the current exhibition, our library includes materials from the Argentine art organization CAyC (Centro de Arte y Comunicación), in which Horacio Zabala participated. Previously, the archives of Mexican artist Ulises Carrión generated our first on-site exhibition, Ulises Carrión: The Big Monster, curated by Aimé Iglesias Lukin, in 2019. ISLAA welcomes curators and researchers to utilize our institutional resources toward producing new exhibitions and original scholarship on Latin American art.
The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years will be on view at ISLAA from October 15, 2020, through January 15, 2021. Visits are by appointment only, and guests are required to follow COVID-19 precautions while on-site.
Virtual Exhibition Tour by Nicolás Guagnini
Diamela Eltit in Conversation with Jerónimo Duarte-Riascos
Horacio Zabala in Conversation with Iria Candela