The period 1965-1989 coincided, in Romania’s case, with the ascension to power of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Communist Party and the slow but predictable process of the installation of a personal dictatorship. Ceauşescu’s election in 1965 gave the impression of a desirable domestic change, of a liberation from Stalin’s influence and the beginning of a dialogue with the western world. Claiming autonomy from the eastern neighbour was manifest in Romania’s dissociation from the members of the Warsaw Pact, which invaded Prague in the summer of 1968, putting an end, under military pressure, to the Czech government’s reforms. Yet, in 1971, after a visit to China and North Korea, Ceauşescu was seduced by the Asian totalitarian communism and by the „cultural revolution” and, as a result, he strengthened the role of censorship and ideological control in all fields, from education, culture, and the public sphere to a project to increase birth-rate. In parallel with the official art, promoted by the political power, several artists tried to make up „survival” techniques. The development of experimental practices was basically targeted at ephemeral forms, at irony and social criticism. Even if they worked in relative isolation, the Romanian artists managed to exhibit in alternative spaces sometimes – in cultural clubs, the hall of the Architecture Institute in Bucharest, or even in their own studios or flats. Others tried to communicate with each other freely and unconventionally, mail art offering an independent, ironic and subversive medium, as well as a way to defy censorship.
In Peru the 1968 military coup marked the start of a dictatorship that was singular in many ways: it attempted to accelerate the breakdown of the oligarchy and to support industrial modernisation through radical reformist measures, which at the same time generated a persecutory police climate. In the seventies entailed a splitting of the course of experimentation in the plastic arts in two directions. On one hand, there was a surge of a „conceptual“ institutional criticism of the art system. And on the other there was an emergence of new forms of collective production in dialogue with Andean culture, protected by the military government. The crisis of the military government and the reinstatement of democracy in 1980 created an atmosphere of critical thought that corresponded to the start of the armed struggle against the government by the subversive group Shining Path culminating in genocide politics against broad sectors of the population, carried out by the seditious group as well as the army. In the eighties, launched by the collaborative activities of various art groups, art became accepted as a space of political denunciation and redefinition based on an „Andean modernity”. Through performances and interventions other artists allegorised the psychological and physical repercussions of violence.
- Taller E.P.S. Huayco (Francisco Mariotti, Maria Luy, Rosario Noriega, Herbert Rodríguez, Juan Javier Salazar, Armando Williams, Mariela Zevallos)
- Herbert Rodríguez
The convulsed scenario that took shape in Argentina in the nineteen-sixties and early seventies was characterized by growing political radicalization and confrontation, the turbulent signs of which sparked and mobilized the realms of visual art. In this context, art and politics seemed to beat at the same (accelerated) pace: in their bid to intervene in the dizzying course of a traversed history, and in its precipitate transition impelled by the imperative of revolution. In March 1976, yet another military coup brutally cancelled that political project. During those years, art had to articulate new critical strategies with which to resist or survive the horror systematically unleashed by state terrorism.
Body and territory were the two principal dimensions invoked by the avant-garde in response to this state of affairs. The body – as a space in which to articulate and associate, in a confrontational manner, both individual and collective experience, the private and the public – was interpreted as a dispositif of political action that was capable of activating its dissident function in directions that fractured and subverted the precepts of meaning imposed by the repressive apparatus. The practice of “signaling” urban space set out to tactically dismantle its measured order, introducing a poetic dérive where the urban economy was naturalizing complex and asymmetrical power relations, establishing hierarchies, and drawing and administering boundaries and itineraries. In this sense, body and territory designed – in their strategic appropriations and interpellations, in the political projections of their trajectories and positions in conflict – a double-faced mobile cartograph that inscribed its critical breadth and depth in the multiplied citing of the violence and its effects on out-of-the-ordinary identities and geographies and in the radical bid to undermine governmental order, by means of semantic dissolution and the disordering of meaning activated by poetic alterity.
The political, social, and cultural conditions prevailing in Chile during the military dictatorship (1973–1990) affected the production of visual art, not only in terms of its signifying capacity but also in its formal construction. As such, in both fixed and moving images we find discontinuities, breaks, divergences, splits, and recompositions, all of which translate into forms of rearticulation of the cognitive and symbolic world. The context of repression in Chile during the military dictatorship generated a series of conflicts and excesses that came to be part of the landscape – part of people’s everyday lives. The art system made visible these more or less explicit excesses, while the language of art was turned into a silent – silenced – battlefield.
- Collective Actions (A. Monastyrski, V. Miturich-Khlebnikova, N. Alexeev, G. Kizevalter, N. Panitkov, M. K., A. Abramov)