Luis Camnitzer (b. 1937, Germany) is a Uruguayan artist and writer who moved to New York in 1964. He was at the vanguard of 1960s Conceptualism, working primarily in printmaking, sculpture, and installations. Camnitzer’s work explores themes of repression under systems of power, pedagogical norms, and the deconstruction of familiar frameworks. His humorous, biting, and often politically charged use of language as an artistic medium has distinguished his practice for over four decades.
The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) is delighted to announce the opening of Poema Colectivo Revolución, curated by Luis Camnitzer, in its New York City space. Bringing together more than three hundred contributions to the international mail art project Poema Colectivo Revolución, this exhibition continues the inaugural series of ISLAA’s on-site curatorial program, which highlights conceptual strategies in Latin American art.
In 1981, the Mexican artist group Colectivo 3—comprising Aarón Flores, Araceli Zúñiga, Blanca Noval Vilar, and César Espinosa—issued an open call for contributions to a collaborative artwork titled Poema Colectivo Revolución. Inspired by the 1979 Sandinista-led uprising in Nicaragua, the group sought to produce a “collective poem” about the theme of revolution, inviting artists and writers to submit their responses to this open-ended prompt on copies of the same letter-size sheet of paper.
The open call received hundreds of mailed-in replies from forty-three countries that, viewed in unison, map out a network of solidarity at a moment of mounting global tensions and economic turmoil. Encompassing typed and handwritten verses, ink and pencil drawings, newspaper collages, and Xerox photocopies, the project assembled a vast array of artistic approaches and ideological perspectives to creatively imagine alternatives to social realities. While some contributors directly addressed the political situation in Nicaragua, most reflected on personal interests and on the ideals and implications of revolutionary action, with works ranging from playfully subversive to skeptically critical. Revisited today, Poema Colectivo Revolución remains a remarkable document of mail art whose radical spirit and aesthetic eccentricity continue to resonate, forty years after its creation.
This exhibition presents the majority of the existing contributions to Poema Colectivo Revolución, including 338 multimedia works on paper. It is accompanied by an original bilingual publication, featuring an essay by Luis Camnitzer in Spanish and English. Poema Colectivo Revolución is curated by Luis Camnitzer, with assistance from Olivia Casa, Exhibition and Curatorial Manager at ISLAA.
ISLAA would like to express its gratitude to Araceli Zúñiga and César Espinosa for preserving the contents of Poema Colectivo Revolución before they entered the Institute’s collection. Their efforts have made this exhibition possible.
César Espinosa and Araceli Zúñiga in Conversation with Mauricio Marcin
Clemente Padín in Conversation with Fernanda Nogueira
Luis Camnitzer in Conversation with Alexander Alberro