HAPPENINGText: Gisella Lifchitz

Since November 2002 and during the year 2003 the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Malba) has introduced the series ‘Contemporary’, which involves five leading curators and multiple emerging artists of the current local scene.

The Malba is white and cosmopolitan. Only a step before climbing up the stairs that lead to the main entrance, one can already sense the strange and foreign air that inhabits those walls. The people outside look at the new visitor waiting to find a familiar face or a pre show entertainment.

From last year and throughout this year, the museum is developing the series called Contemporary, which involves the action and opinion of five curators invited personally by the Director, Marcelo Pacheco.

This series could be the triumph of the curator’s race, if there is one. Each of them claims for him the right and responsibility of choosing a group of artists (there must be at least two) to make them coexist in a peaceful exhibit of their virtues and contradictions.

Maybe Contemporary 2 was the clearest example of the idea that Pacheco had in mind. Rafael Cippolini, the curator, has chosen the exposits in an eclectic way, reuniting three exhibits in one: Guillermo Ueno’s , Mumi’s (both photographers) and Doma group (graphic arts and design). While explaining his choice, Cippolini tells ‘Guillermo is a guy with a tender and clever look on his environment. I met Doma when my girlfriend brought me one of their postcards of urban interventions, for our first date. Finally, I liked Mumi’s portfolio, and she was a Doma’s fan and wanted to work with them and let them intervene her work. I tried to reunite an irregular group of artists whose work moved me, in a trial of aesthetic coexistence’.

The combination produced an original result, being contrast the main character. If we analyze it in different portions, as worlds in themselves, the exhibit brightens up. That’s where Doma unleashes its rational and technological fury through cows that imitate people and dead sculptors in the middle of a dirty tank. Social violence and loss of freedom in the panoptical society penetrate inside each of the assistants to the exhibit while they try to walk between police bright orange cones and invasive security cameras specially installed for the occasion.

Desperation provoked by little men who pursue me disappears when I find the photographic gallery of Guillermo Ueno. Ueno’s images transpire peace and tranquility. It’s almost as if we could enter his place and the light from the window could embrace us, too. In the visit we meet his family and the colors of his life. That’s the time when the Malba isn’t an alienated place anymore and becomes, for a very short moment, our home: a house inside a house.

When we get to the end of the exhibit, we can see Mumi’s pictures, which worked with Doma and they both intervened her work. Reality is rude again, with cold images that impact with their sobriety and ominous feeling.

There are TV cameras and people wanting to be filmed, while the shiest take a refuge in the intimacy of Ueno’s pictures, on one quiet side of the huge gallery.

Contemporary 3 also comes with surprises. Jorge Gumier Maier, the curator, reunites two of the young emerging argentine artists, who produce different reactions among the visitors. The artists are unlike, too. Personally, Gumier Maier describes Nahuel Vecino as ‘much more talkative, slim and pale. In contrast, Sandro Pereira doesn’t talk too much, he’s fat and dark-skinned’. Vecino paints fragmented people, destroyed by the ambience, or the war, or some distant reason that, although strange to us, seems somewhat familiar. His romantic style turns reddish like blood and it collapses against the other side of the exhibit.

As a matter of fact, Pereira chose two resin sculptures: a just married groom and a giant duck that works as a lifeguard. The dimensions of these characters make the museum look smaller, and the people and the meaning of everything seem small too.

A lonely TV shows the adventures of the giant duck inside a lake at a park in the city of San Miguel de Tucuman. The funniest part is, surely, the line of real little ducks that follow the fake one, disoriented or maybe happy just to have a radiant and yellow partner to follow.

By chance, I hear the comments of an old man who tells his wife ‘Have you seen the little duck? How nice, eh!’ While the man walks away as fast as he can, I can still recall the fear in his voice.
In the TV, the ducky is still swimming. He lets himself be carried away by the flow. Everyone expects something else. But they know that the best has already passed. I wonder what contemporary people want from us. I know the answers are at the end of the labyrinth.

Maybe a rebirth of coexistence. Coexistence among a duck who saves and a man who dies. Coexistence of a charming Japanese girl with velvet hair and a warning sign about the next step to follow. Coexistence of a groom who’s soaked with rice and a pair of sad eyes asking for a way out. A moldy tank that some people can’t look at and a TV where many of them get caught by their own image, relieved to see it again, just before drinking the champagne they were looking for.

The answer might just be an open question. And the possibility of public appreciation of a group of artists that may simply want to keep asking.

Contemporary 2
Doma + Mumi + Ueno
Date: From November 21, 2002 to January 13, 2003
Invited curator: Rafael Cippolini

Contemporary 3
Sandro Pereira / Nahuel Vecino
Date: From February 21 to April 7, 2003
Invited curator: Gumier Maier

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos AiresMuseum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires
Address: Avda. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, (C1425CLA) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: (54 11) 4808-6500

Text: Gisella Lifchitz
Photos: Gisella Lifchitz

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