The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this text, Juan Acha poses the question, “Does present-day Latin American art exist as a distinct expression?”, that is, as a way of examining the broader and more fundamental question of what constitutes an original aesthetic expression. He contends that, although works are shaped to different degrees by historical and geographical context, the most basic measure of what Acha calls “distinctiveness” in art is a “uniqueness” that “. . . may equally be either foreign or local.” The critic also contends that Latin American identity is a slippery, diverse, and often ambitious entity, and that art that in some way expresses this quality of “. . . becoming and wishing to become. . .” is often most successful in conveying a Latin American aspect of “esthetic uniqueness.” In contrast, artists that deliberately give their art a “Latin American stamp” inevitably fail to create works of aesthetic merit. Acha concludes by arguing that there are three main reasons Latin American art is not of higher quality: First, the field of critics, artists, theorists and historians is limited to too small a number. Second, Latin America’s art has not had long enough to develop (he marks 1920 as the end of the “colonial period”). And, third, the concept of art is too narrowly confined and does not encompass, as it should, a broad sector of cultural consumers and producers, as well as the means for disseminating culture.