Julio LeParc,
Julio Le Parc, "La torture in Argentina" (1972). Photo: Joaquín Cortés/Román Lores. Photographic archive of the Reina Sofia Museum
Map "Aqui viven genocidas", by Grupo de Arte Callejero, featured in the "Girográfica" exhibition at Reina Sofía. reproduction
Map “Aqui viven genocidas”, by Grupo de Arte Callejero, featured in the “Girográfica” exhibition at Reina Sofía. reproduction

In partnership with Red Conceptualismos del Sur (RedCSur) – a group with members coming, mostly from Latin American countries, and dedicated to research and criticism of artistic, archival, curatorial and social movement practices –, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, from Madrid (Spain), presents, until the 10th of October, the exhibition Graphic rotation. As in the wall the hiedra, which focuses on popular resistance to oppression in Latin America, from the 60s to the present day, expressed through various graphic supports. Outside the field of art, this production present on the streets of cities echoes urgent themes, such as indigenous rights, the rescue of the memory of victims of dictatorships, black, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, among others.

In common, these practices have the precariousness of materials and the great potential for distribution and dissemination of ideas, whether in posters, banners, flags, t-shirts, embroidery and maps, or even in interventions in public spaces, such as performances with paintings. In November, the exhibition conceived by RedCSur goes to the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (Muac), in Mexico City, where it will be on display until July 2023. In an interview with arte!brasileiros, André Mesquita, one of the coordinators of graphic turn, emphasizes that the objective of RedCSur was to make the museum “a sounding board”, from which the works must “reverberate outside of it”.

“Our desire is to instigate people, make them inspired by the work and also produce their actions, their posters, rethinking the political graphic”, says Mesquita, who is curator and coordinator of the mediation team and public programs at Masp. and has been part of RedCur since 2009. He is also curator, alongside historian and anthropologist Lilia Schwarcz, of the Rebellions and revolt, from the exhibition Brazilian Stories, on display at the São Paulo museum. According to him, there is a dialogue between the exhibition in Madrid and its nucleus, whether in the posters presented, in the embroidery of the Linhas do Horizonte collective, also present at Reina Sofía, or in the production of silkscreen artists. queer, which present works on Marielle Franco, a Rio de Janeiro councilor murdered in 2018.

The works exhibited in graphic turn are divided according to the respective materials research and were grouped under the following concepts created by RedCSur: Untimely graphics, Arseñal, Graphic bodies, La delay, Persistencias de la memoria, In secret, Pasafronteras, Territorios insumisos e countercartographies. In the latter, Mesquita also participated in the survey of the works, in this case, maps produced by collectives of artists and social movements.

“They are denouncement maps, which show the exploitation of natural resources, for example, but which also tell a story of empowerment of communities and movements. Like the Grupo de Arte Callejero, created in the mid-1990s in Argentina and linked to the country's human rights movement, formed by family members of people who disappeared during the military dictatorship”, says the curator.

These maps, says Mesquita, were produced in the early 2000s and, in them, the protesters pointed out who they were and the addresses of some of the torturers of the Argentine dictatorship, who had changed their names shortly after the regime's fall. Pasted on the streets where they lived, these posters ended up leading the country's government to identify, judge and condemn those people, who were arrested.

At the exhibition, Mesquita worked with two other RedSCur members from Brazil, both in the research teams, which had a total of 30 participants: the Brazilian Clara Albinati, professor at PucMinas, researcher and independent filmmaker; and María Angélica Melendi, an Argentine living in the country since 1975, author of Art Strategies in an Age of Catastrophes (Editora Cobogó), title released in 2017, and retired professor at the Fine Arts Department of the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, where she coordinates, since 2002, the contemporary art study group that gave her book its name.

According to Mesquita, Clara and María Angélica led to graphic turn important contributions of Brazilian production. Since 2016 at RedCur, Clara has collaborated, from Minas Gerais, with, among others, a selection of embroidery by the collectives Linhas do Horizonte and Pontos de Luta, protest t-shirts by Coletivo Alvorada and also the flag Scoundrel, by Coletivo Vai, used in the 2016 demonstrations against the impeachment of then-President Dilma Roussef. The work is an update of the work Long live Maria, exhibited by Waldemar Cordeiro at the 1966 Bahia Arts Biennial, in the midst of the military dictatorship. Also a flag, with the word “scoundrel” sewn on felt, it was removed from the show, by orders of the then state governor Antônio Carlos Magalhães.

María Angélica took the silkscreen to Reina Sofía Occupy Everything!, by Melissa Rocha, also from Minas, and creations by the group Cholera Joy, from São Paulo, which in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, participated in artistic manifestations criticizing the Bolsonaro government, through posters and flags, among others, which circulated both on the streets and on social networks, under the hashtag #choleralegria.

graphic turn is the second show by Reina Sofía made in collaboration with RedCSur. The first, entitled Losing the human form. A seismic image of los años ochenta in Latin America, was presented between October 2012 and March 2013, with developments in educational programs and editorial projects, and tours in Lima and Buenos Aires. Mesquita, who has been at RedCur since 2009, and was also one of the coordinators of the first exhibition, says that there is a connection between the two:

“It was our wish to try to extend the chronology of lose out human, working with social movements and projects in the present. And that was a big challenge, because we started to organize in 2016, we called in researchers who were not participating in the Red, like Josh McPhee and Jesús Barraza, two artists and activists from the USA. The plan was to open in 2019, then it moved to 2020, but then the pandemic came and only this year the show was opened”, he explains.

For Mesquita, one of the exemplary works of this chronological extension that took place lose the human form for graphic turn it's the project black zapanther, from the research group pasafronteras, and developed by the collective EDELO (En Donde Era la ONU), formed by artists Caleb Duarte and Mia Eve Rollow. As the name suggests, the work proposes to connect the visual imagery of the Black Panthers - a movement that fought police violence against blacks during the 1960s, in the context of the civil rights movement in the USA - with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, created in 1994, and his mobilization of indigenous peasants for agrarian reform in Chiapas, Mexico.

“Emory Douglas, who was the Minister of Culture of the Black Panthers, participated in 2014 in a residency in a community in Chiapas, with Zapatista artists and embroiderers, at the invitation of the collective. Together with them, Douglas produced works, including embroidery, banners, posters, etc., that mix images of the two movements, in addition to historical photographs. Bringing these artists from the 1960s to the present, creating these inter-generational bonds in a mixed temporality, is something important for the dialogue between the past and the present that we propose in this exhibition”, he concludes.


Graphic rotation. As in the wall the hiedra
Conception: Red Conceptualismos del Sur (RedCSur)
Until October 10 (from November, at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo – Muac, Mexico City)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, Madrid (Spain)
Visitation: Mondays, from 10 am to 21 pm; Tuesday, closed; Wednesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 20 pm; Sunday, from 10 am to 14:30 pm

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