Performance Art in Latin America. Part 2.

Posted on September - 6 - 2017

Ana Mendieta “Taitlin’s Whisper”. Photo Courtesy: Tate

Performance art starting emerging in the 60’s in the Western world as a form of experimentation that merged concepts such as time and place. As the whole world was changing, Latin America was experimenting serious political and social transformations from the 1960s and 1980s. During those decades the region was dominated by military regimes led by a political agenda that aimed at containing socialist influences, often suppressing partially or completely civil liberties. As a reaction to the suppressive atmosphere that reigned for decades, artists in Latin American started adopting performance art as a means to respond to the oppression and injustice experienced in their countries. In the 1990’s after the military juntas were losing their grasps, the remnants of years of violence started to materialize in society. Many emerging, as well as more established artists, adopted performance art as a means to speak out and address these issues to engage with a local and international audience.

Among the biggest voices in performance art where women, who, influenced by Body Art and Happenings, created a strong and powerful body of work.

Marta Minujín

Hailing from an Argentina that was entering one of the most violent and notorious military juntas in Latin America, Marta Minujin has become a synonym of Pop Art, even marrying it in 2013. From the 1960s, she received a fellowship in Paris that influenced her whole career, taking her to form part of other art centers such as New York, where she collaborated with Andy Warhol and was severely influenced by Pop Art. On her return to Buenos Aires, Minujin was a pioneer in performance art, where she opted to take ephemeral materials and setting performances with an irreverent undertone to challenge the strict and suppressive dictatorship in Buenos Aires. Her major Works took place in the 1960s with The Destruction (1963), stage temporary interventions with living animals The Bump  (1964), and subject unwitting viewers to extreme conditions La Menesunda (1965), as well as the Three Country Happening (1966), a collaboration between the artist in Buenos Aires, Allan Kaprow in New York, and Wolf Vostell in Berlin. She has several solo exhibitions and awards, including the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1966 as well as representing Argentina in Documenta 14 where she reenacted her famous Parthenon of Books from 1983 in Friedrichsplatz, at Kassel.

Marta Minujín “Parthenon of Books”. Photo Courtesy: My Modern Met

Tania Bruguera

The Cuban artist Tania Bruguera has gained both fame and notoriety in the last 20 years, where she has challenged the strict and unjust restrictions her county has imposed on its people as well as for trying to erase the boundaries between art, life, and activism, using mainly her body as a medium. Strongly influenced by Ana Mendieta, another Cuban artist that was displaced by her country’s political situation, Bruguera developed a series as homage to the artists, where she reenacted Mendienta’s famous Silhouettes (1973- 1980) in Homage to Ana Mendieta (1985-1996). Entering the millennium, Bruguera attention shifted into developing of arte útil (useful art) as a means of improving social conditions through the interaction and exchange of artists and the public in hopes of the construction of a better future. She gained worldwide attention with Tatlins Whisper #6 (2009) around the time of the Habana Biennale, where she refers to Fidel Castro’s speech on the day of the Revolution, with the intention of creation and challenging the political authorities. She has also developed the Immigrant Movement International (2010–15), which consists of a long-term project based on the living conditions of immigrants living in the United States.

Tania Bruguera “Taitlin’s Whisper #6”. Photo Courtesy: Artsy

Regina José Galindo

Regina José Galindo’s name resonates through the whole world as one of the leading performance artists of the last two decades. Growing up in a new democratic Guatemala, Galindo deals with the remnants of the 36 civil war that devastated Guatemala with the intention of addressing the victims and perpetrators to confront uncomfortable topics. With an unapologetic tone, she has used her body as her own canvas, taking it to the extreme in shocking and moving ways, to tackle themes such as discrimination, crime, women’s rights, memory and much more. Among her, most memorable work is Who Can Erase the Traces? (2003), Bitch (2005), Himenoplastia (2004). She has had multiple solo exhibitions around the world and received various awards, including the Golden Lion for Promising Young Artists at the Venice Biennale and the Grand Prize at the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia. This year she participated in Documenta 14 both at Kassel and Athens with her works Presence (2017), The objective (2017) and The Shadow (2017).

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz

Regina Jose Galindo “Presence”. Photo courtesy: Mujeres en Guatemala