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In this essay, curator Julieta González discusses artist Claudio Perna, specifically the way he uses photography and his archive-based methodology. González argues that Perna’s photographs can be analyzed in terms of the concept of the “index” and, insofar as they act as “indexical signs of objects,” they redefine the medium of photography. She asserts that Perna’s archive-based methodology is the operative matrix of a diverse and marginal body of work that seems to be driven by a documentary inclination towards the register, signal, and index. She comments briefly on some of Perna’s series that make use of photography and photocopiers, series like Autocopias; Alineamientos and Fotoinformes; Hampones; Penetrables; Geo-esculturas; Esculturas urbanas; and Esculturas en movimiento. González identifies Perna’s most important contributions to Conceptualism in Venezuela and beyond.
Entitled “Una historia de la fotografía de Claudio Perna contada por Claudio Perna,” this essay by Julieta González (b. 1967) is one of the four texts fundamental to the study of the life and work of Italian-Venezuelan artist Claudio Perna (1938–97) published in the catalogue to the exhibition Arte social. Claudio Perna held at the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas in 2004. The show was the first major anthological exhibition of Perna’s work. González’s essay addresses Perna’s photography, providing new concepts and approaches to his work and its analysis. The author looks to recent formulations by major theorists and critics such as Rosalind Krauss and Allan Sekula. To illustrate her thesis that Perna’s photography is an “indexical” sign, González analyzes series like Hampones, which makes use of anonymous photographs in newspaper clippings. González draws a connection between that work and work by other Latin American artists, such as Homenagem a Cara de Cavalo — Seja Marginal, Seja Herói by Hélio Oiticica and works by Cildo Meireles that appropriate a photograph from the newspaper and a headline in order to signal marginality in cities in crisis. In terms of the Venezuelan context in which Perna produces, González asserts that though critics have placed his work in the category of “photography,” it transcends that classification insofar as it has implications beyond the photographic act and connections to Conceptualism and other movements. The catalogue features, in addition to this text by González, texts by the show’s curator Zuleiva Vivas [see in the ICAA digital archive “Intervención creativa en el contexto social” (doc. no. 1161969); by Luis Enrique Pérez-Oramas “El autocurrículum de Claudio Perna, escultura social y novela hiperrealista” (doc. no. 1161917); and by Gabriela Rangel Mantilla “El mono geográfico” (doc. no. 1161933)].
[For other texts on Perna, see also in the ICAA digital archive Margarita D’Amico’s “1: Hoy es arte lo que no era” (doc. no. 1068360); Roberto Guevara’s “Claudio Perna o cómo ser libre en la marginalidad” (doc. no. 1080814); Elsa Flores’s untitled text [“Vivir quiere decir dejar huellas…”] (doc. no. 1063156); María Elena Ramos’s “Arte–idea–geografía” (doc. no. 1080766); Mara Comerlati’s “Claudio Perna. Lo fundamental es inventar. Este domingo expondrá más de cincuenta dibujos en la Sala Mendoza” (doc. no. 1068403); Lourdes Blanco’s “Claudio Perna: fotocopias” (doc. no. 1080715); and José Napoleón Oropeza’s “Claudio Perna. Disfruto el estilo de no tener estilo” (doc. no. 1067382). See as well the following texts by Zuleiva Vivas: “Las opciones del tiempo para el nuevo espíritu” (doc. no. 1065674); “Visión panorámica de las nuevas cartografías” (doc. no. 1157158); “Los nuevos procesos y la representación figurativa” (doc. no. 1157174); and “Claudio Perna y el arte del pensamiento” (doc. no. 1163950)].