Ghost Messages: argentine Art Between Media and Message, 1965-1968

Thursday, 10 January 2013

16.00 - 17.30, Research Forum South Room

Speaker(s): Daniel R Quiles (Assistant Professor in Art History, Theory, and Criticism, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Klara Kemp-Welch

collage of images of equipment e.g. telex, TV, cameras
Roberto Jacoby, Circuitos informacionales cerrados [Closed Information Circuits], collage for unrealized work, 1967. Courtesy the artist

Histories of Argentine art of the 1960s have thus far argued for a progression from formal experimentation to a more overtly political art, what Luis Camnitzer has termed “ideological conceptualism.” These teleological accounts invariably posit 1968 as an end-point beyond which artistic practice could go no further, grounding this contention in a rupture with the dominant contemporary art space in Buenos Aires, the radicality of the subsequent Tucumán Arde collaboration, and the ultimate renunciation of art production by a number of the key artists involved. Daniel Quiles' talk will aim to complicate this historical consensus, characterizing the conceptualism that emerged between 1965 and 1968 as both internally conflicted and enduring beyond the decade. In order to achieve what Longoni and Mestman call the “culminating manifestation” of 1960s art in Argentina, Tucumán Arde drew on the immediate past—on strategies devised between 1965 and 1967 in Buenos Aires by a group of artists led by the writer Oscar Masotta. Sharing a deep skepticism for images and messages, the artworks produced by this group rely on false, inconsistent, or tautological information to stimulate critical thought. To use the title of one of the three artworks Masotta ever made, they employ mensajes fantasmas—ghost messages—vacated of content or sincerity, to reveal the conditions making their transmission possible. He will argue that the ghost message operation is fundamentally at odds with the direct, authentic messages that some of the Tucumán Arde collaborators sought to deliver. In reexamining a now canonical project, he hopes to excavate an internal conflict between media and message that was never fully resolved.

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