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.
This (unsigned) article is a review of the exhibition of photocopies produced by the artists María Zabala, Roberto Obregón, Diego Rísquez, Joe, Lorenzo Berman, Sigfredo Chacón, Héctor Fuenmayor, and Claudio Perna. The exhibition was held at the Cruz del Sur bookstore in Caracas in 1978. The article states that the group used photocopies as an alternative artistic mass medium; these artists seek to give this medium (which is usually used to produce mechanical reproductions of documents) an axiological value and include it among the conventional media that are usually used to produce visual art. Fuenmayor and Perna, on behalf of the group, explain that the goal of their aesthetic project is to promote the widespread dissemination of images and ideas.
This review includes valuable information about the new artistic languages that emerged in 1970s Venezuela. In fact, the exhibition referred to here was one of the first Conceptual art events in which a group of artists explored a “new medium”—in this case, photocopies. The group statements (communicated on their colleagues’ behalf by the artists Héctor Fuenmayor and Claudio Perna) are expressed in the plural and as avant-garde propositions. Among other things, they say that: “we believe that the concept of fine art is dead, and that museums and galleries are facing a critical challenge in terms of establishing some form of continuity; (. . .) we believe that art is not the final product; it is also part of the process.” They propose widespread dissemination of art—images and ideas—through “serial multiplication.” They further explain that their concept relies on “Mail art” to send aesthetic ideas to other countries where these ideas can be reproduced on more sophisticated photocopying machines. In their opinion, these artists suggest that they are offering an alternative to the commercial model since art would no longer be bought as a single, exclusive product in this system.
This article was written in 1978, and there are therefore several important aspects of Postmodernist art referred to in the brief review, specifically in terms of institutional criticism and the archive as being related to the work of art, that is, to its physical presence in the exhibition space, as proposed by some curators in the present day. One of the items on display at the bookstore was a photocopy of an essay by Gregory Battcock. Referring to this item, the journalists explain that the exhibition “even included documents to be read,” which did not greatly impress them since this is the kind of material with which they work on a daily basis.
Although the review does not identify any one artist as the conceptual brains and organizer of the exhibition, it is obvious that Perna played a key role. In 1973 and 1974, Perna—who was originally from Italy, then settled in Venezuela—had been experimenting extensively with photocopying machines; he even showed some of these works in 1975 at Autocopias, an exhibition at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, introduced by an essay by Lourdes Blanco [see “Claudio Perna: Fotocopias” in the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1080715)]. In 1977, Perna presented another version at the Instituto de Diseño de la Fundación Newman-Ince: La llamada telefónica: Autocopias. Perna had also created montages of his photocopies to display in the store window at Cruz del Sur. He had close ties to this legendary bookstore in the Sabana Grande area in the eastern part of Caracas. The bookstore was active from the 1950s to the 1970s, and was a favorite gathering place of intellectuals and artists.