Beatriz González
Room dedicated to Colombian artist Beatriz González in the exhibition History of two worlds

The inclusion of narratives outside the central axis of the United States and Europe has been a constant policy in important art institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, the Tate Modern, in London, the Pompidou Center, in Paris, and the Reina. Sofia, in Madrid.
For at least two decades, these museums have been incorporating Latin American works, one of the non-hegemonic places that has been gaining more space, and they have given visibility to important productions by artists such as Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape and Cildo Meireles, to to cite just a few Brazilians, thus recovering a gap in their collections and programs.

Germany was slow to take such an initiative, but since 2014 the National Culture Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) created the Global Museum program, which has been reviewing the perspectives of the collections of its national museums.

“History of two worlds – Latin American experimental art in dialogue with the MMK collection, 1949 – 1989”, inaugurated last July at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires (Mamba), represents one of the developments of the Global Museum project.
“The exhibition was suggested by Hortência Völkers, from the National Culture Foundation, to be held both at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt (MMK), in Germany, and here in Argentina,” he told ARTE!Brasileiros the director of Mamba and curator of the exhibition Victoria Noorthoorn, who shared the task with Javier Villa and Klaus Görner, for the German museum.

According to Völkers, who is an Argentinian living in Germany, in addition to the MMK, two other German museums hold exhibitions with similar strategies, including the Hamburger Bahnhoff, in Berlin.

Opened in Frankfurt in November last year, “History of Two Worlds” runs until October 14 in the Argentine capital and brings together around 500 works by XNUMX artists, most of them Latin American, not only from the collections of the two exhibitions that organize the show but also from various institutions, including Brazilian ones, such as the Pinacoteca do Estado.

Entrevidas (1981), installation with eggs by Anna Maria Maiolino and Situação TT, 1, 1970-2017 by Artur Barrio at the exhibition that reopened the Mamba, in Buenos Aires

The binational exhibition still represents a milestone in the museum's history: the complete occupation of the main building, in the San Telmo neighborhood, where the Mamba has been operating since 1986, but which used about half of its capacity. Now, the institution has 4 thousand square meters of exhibition area, all of it used for “History of two worlds”.

One of the first images in the show is a photo by Albert Georg Riethausen, where a group of artists can be seen on a tightrope, in 1949, in the midst of a German city completely destroyed by World War II. In the sequence, several works are presented that represent the antithesis of this space of ruins, Latin America as a place of utopias, from the photographers Thomaz Farkas and Marcel Gautherot, with images of the construction and inauguration of Brasília, in 1960 and 1961, to projects by Argentinian architect Amancio Williams, as an airport to be built over the Rio de la Plata, from 1945.

This inversion of what has become the current stereotype of the new world order – Germany as the main European power and Latin America as the scorched earth of the neoliberal system – in fact points out how it is possible through art to rethink apparently definitive structures.

In fact, the show brings together artists with powerful works that challenged the dictatorships that spread across the south of the American continent, as in the works of Anna Maria Maiolino and Artur Barrio. “Entrevidas”, 1981, by Maiolino, occupied one of the exhibition rooms – with architecture by Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara – with dozens of eggs, pointing to fragility and hope, as well as “Situação T/T, 1”, 197o/2017 , by Artur Barrio, the historical work, whose documentation presents images of pieces of meat wrapped in cloth dumped in a park in Belo Horizonte, which resembled the bodies tortured by the military dictatorship in Brazil. Both artists are good examples of this new policy of the great art institutions, as both have been included in exhibitions and collection shows.

This is the case of the Colombian Beatriz González, who participated in documenta 14, in Kassel and Athens, last year, and has gained great prominence in recent months. In the show, she participates with a room that gives an account of the poetics of her work, which mixes everyday objects, such as furniture and curtains and overlays them with colorful patterns, very pop-style, but with critical situations for the elite of her country.

Finally, co-produced by a Buenos Aires museum, “History of Two Worlds” presents in its 16 modules a wide and well-deserved selection of Argentine artists, such as Leon Ferrari, awarded with a room of his works critical to the Catholic Church, and also Oscar Bony, Victor Grippo, Liliana Porter, Edgardo Antonio Vigo, Liliana Maresca and Marta Minujin, among others.

And these artists coexist, in the end, on the same level as renowned artists such as Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Marcel Broodthaers, Marcel Duchamp, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly and Charlotte Posenenske to name a few of the exhibits in the German museum collection.
The best thing, however, is to realize that the inclusion of Latinos comes from an effort to include a German museum, and that the curatorship itself is done in a collaboration that involves both countries. Empowering, after all, is not just expanding representation, but giving voice to those who until now have not had space. And in the case of “A story of two worlds” this is still confirmed in the impressive catalog of almost 500 pages, with essays that expand the debates of the show.

Journalist Fabio Cypriano traveled at the invitation of the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires

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