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This article was published in El País, a newspaper run by sectors of the Partido Nacional, one of Uruguay’s two traditional political parties. It reports on the occupation of the Subte exhibition space in Montevideo by a group of visual artists starting on August 21, 1963. The artists occupied the space in protest against governmental use of political instead of artistic criteria to choose the juries of national art competitions. The article belittles the occupiers, calling them “campers.” In fact, the overall tone of the text is ironic as it stigmatizes Communists; it suggests that the artists engage in such protest in a museum in Moscow. Entitled “¿Arte versus política?” the article calls the artists’ protest a “quaint and silly storming of the Bastille.”


The press reaction to the occupation of the Subte Municipal de Montevideo exhibition space by visual artists, starting on August 21, 1963, was varied. Just over a week after the occupation, organizations of trade unions and cultural workers joined the effort, demonstrating the social reality of the sixties—when sectors of local intellectuals were becoming increasingly ideological, partly as a result of widespread politicization—and a growing union movement. On the one hand, artists questioned the procedures used to name juries to art competitions—most of the individuals were not fit for the task—and, on the other, they employed outdated aesthetic tendencies. The movement that rallied around the occupation brought together a range of artistic disciplines (theater, dance, the visual arts, music) in an “integration of the arts” based on a shared sociopolitical agenda and on joint action. This conflict echoed what was happening around the region in a context marked by the ideology of the Cold War and the polemic consequences of the Cuban Revolution.

María Eugenia Grau, Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Gabriel Peluffo Linari