ISLAA

The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years

On Now:
Oct 15, 2020 → Jan 15, 2021
10.15.20 → 01.15.21
ARTISTS
Antonio Dias
Horacio Zabala
Lotty Rosenfeld
CADA
Raúl Zurita
Fernando Balcells
Diamela Eltit
Juan Castillo
CURATORS
Nicolás Guagnini
Black and white photograph of a white poster with the text "NO +" and a hand holding a gun painted on its surface.
Black, square fabric hanging from a wire with the text "REALTÀ" written backwards in white it the center of the fabric.
Photograph of an individual walking on a curved road in a rocky landscape.

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.

Exhibition Works

Black and white image of a black fabric square with "REALTÀ" written backwards in white on the surface.

Antonio Dias, Tapa Olho (Eye Patch), 1969. © the artist. Courtesy the artist's estate and Galeria Nara Roesler

Two hand-drawn architectural sketches and a black and white image of an individual in front of a building.

Horacio Zabala, 300 metros de cinta negra para enlutar una plaza pública (300 Meters of Black Tape to Mourn a Public Square), 1972. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Herlitzka + Faria. Photo: Arturo Sánchez

Black and white photograph of a group of people installing a large white sheet in front of the entrance to the Museo de Bellas Artes.

Colectivo Acciones de Arte (CADA) (Raúl Zurita, Fernando Balcells, Diamela Eltit, Lotty Rosenfeld, Juan Castillo), Inversión de escena (Scene Inversion), 1979. © and courtesy C.A.D.A. / 1 Mira Madrid Gallery

Six black and white images showing a woman painting a white line on a street.

Lotty Rosenfeld, Una milla de cruces en el pavimento (A Mile of Crosses on the Pavement), 1979. © and courtesy the artist / 1 Mira Madrid Gallery

Installation Views

Left side view of a TV screen playing video, mounted and framed photographs, and a large video projection

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

Front view of mounted and framed photographs and a large video projection.

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

Front view of mounted and framed original documents and a TV screen playing video.

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

Right side view of mounted and framed original documents and a TV screen playing video.

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

Stacks of original documents and booklets next to a smart tablet playing video.

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

Stacks of original documents and booklets on a white table.

Installation view of The Counter-Public Sphere in the Condor Years, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 2020. Photo: Julio Grinblatt

ABOUT THE ARTIST(S)
Antonio Dias

Antonio Dias (1944–2018) was a Brazilian artist and graphic designer. He was a prominent figure of the concrete and Tropicália movements.

Horacio Zabala

Horacio Zabala (b. 1943, Buenos Aires) was trained as an architect at the University of Buenos Aires. He had his first solo art show in 1967. In 1972 he began publishing essays and other theoretical texts on art, and in 1975 began curating and planning exhibitions. He was a member of the Grupo de los Trece (Group of Thirteen), which was centered around the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC), until 1976. In that year, which marks the start of Argentina’s final and most violent military dictatorship, he went into an exile that would take him to Rome, Vienna, and Geneva, where he would continue to produce and exhibit his art for 22 years. On his return to Argentina, he created the exhibition Ejercicios y tránsitos (Exercises and Transits) (1998) at Buenos Aires’s Museum of Modern Art, published El arte o el mundo por segunda vez (Art or the World, Once Again) (1998) and resumed his curatorial efforts. Since then, his works have appeared in numerous solo and group shows in Argentina and abroad, and have entered major collections, both private and public, around the world: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Tate Modern (London), Dallas Museum of Art, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. In 2016 he had an important anthological exhibition La pureza está en la mezcla (Purity is in the mix), at the Colección de Arte Fortabat (Buenos Aires) and Mapping the Monochrome, at Phoenix Art Museum. He lives and works in Buenos Aires.

Lotty Rosenfeld

Lotty Rosenfeld (b. June 20, 1943; d. 24 July 2020) was an interdisciplinary artist based in Santiago, Chile. She was born in Santiago, Chile, and was active during the late 1970s during the time of the Chilean military coup d'état. She carried out public art interventions in urban areas, often manipulating traffic signs in order to challenge viewers to rethink notions of public space and political agency. Her work has been exhibited in several countries throughout Latin America, and Internationally in places such as Europe, Japan, and Australia.

CADA

Colectivo Acciones de Arte (CADA), an interdisciplinary group of Chilean artists, was established in 1979 with the goal of inciting critical reflection on the relationship between art and politics, a question made especially urgent by the conditions of the country’s authoritarian government. CADA concentrated its efforts on executing citizen interventions that sought to launch a new aesthetic in order to reformulate existing artistic circles under the dictatorship. The group made an appeal to multiply the current broadcast channels and transform them into bases of support for discourses on art. The CADA group disbanded in 1985, after completing the actionViuda.

Raúl Zurita

Raúl Zurita (b.1950), winner of the Chilean National Poetry Prize, is the author of the renowned poetic trilogy Purgatory, Anteparadise, and The New Life, considered one of the singular poetic achievements in Latin American poetry. His other publications include the book INRI (translated by William Rowe), Song for His Disappeared Love (translated by Daniel Borzutzky), and the poetry collections El Paraí­so Esta Vací­o, Canto a Su Amor, Desaparecido, El Amor de Chile, Los Paí­ses muertos, In Memoriam, and Las Ciudades de Agua. He has just completed a book that includes “Inscriptions Facing the Sea,” a project to inscribe 22 phrases in the cliffs of the north coast of Chile that would only be read from the sea. Zurita is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Casa de las Americas Prize from Cuba, and the National Poetry Prize of Chile. His work has been translated into a dozen languages.

Diamela Eltit

Diamela Eltit (b. 1949, Santiago, Chile) is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic. Eltit published her first texts during the dictatorship in Chile (1973–90), while becoming involved in visual arts and diverse modes of performance as a founding member of the renowned group Colectivo Acciones de Arte (CADA). Eltit is an important critic in the field of Latin American literature and has lectured at many institutions in the United States and Latin America.

ABOUT THE CURATOR(S)
Nicolás Guagnini

Nicolás Guagnini was born in Buenos Aires in 1966. He is an artist, writer, and cofounder of Orchard Gallery, New York, and the film collective Union Gaucha Productions. His work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. His writing has been published inOctober,Texte zur Kunst, andRamonamagazines, as well as exhibition catalogues from the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum. Guagnini's work has been the subject of international solo exhibitions at venues including Artists Space, New York; FRAC Grand Large Hauts-de-France, Dunkirk; and the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma. His work has also been presented in numerous group exhibitions, most recently at 80WSE, New York; the Drawing Center, New York; and the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. Guagnini lives in New York.

The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) supports the study and visibility of Latin American art.
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The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) supports the study and visibility of Latin American art.

Tue–Sat: 12–6 PM Sun–Mon: Closed
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