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.
Alicia Haber was the curator of the 1991 exhibition Charrúas y montes criollos, presenting the contemporary work of Uruguayan artist Rimer Cardillo, who had been residing in New York since 1984. According to the curatorial text, the exhibition revolved around the concepts of “ecology, historical memory, and national identity.” The archeological nature of the presentation, mounds of earth consisting of fossils’ prints made of ceramic, pieces of wood from native forests in medium and large forms, metaphorically constituted to Haber the paleontological and anthropological history of the location. Additionally it was also a metaphoric representation of cultural continuity and discontinuity stored in the memory of the Earth, which art was able to incorporate into the collective memory. “Mounds or barrows” of the Aboriginal Charrúas are reproduced, in addition to imprints in ceramic relief suggesting animal footprints and shell fossils, and traces of branches and wood from the natural mountains of the territory, all of them signs of nature in its original state that was and continues to be decimated and disappearing. According to Haber, the backdrop of vindication and tacit denunciation that this environment presents, an environment whose structures included pieces of ceramic, wood, cement, many of them with a totemic character, is searching for formal ties and rituals associated with the imaginary indigenous people.
The last decade of the twentieth century produced quite a number of analyses about memory and identity, both individual and collective, which took shape in the works of the newer generations of artists. The impact that some of the exhibitions presented by Uruguayan artists residing abroad had in Montevideo cannot be ignored, especially these two: the one in 1991 on Rimer Cardillo (b. 1944), and another held the following year on Carlos Capelán (b. 1948), both organized by Alicia Haber (b. 1946) [regarding the second exhibition, see in the ICAA digital archive “Una formulación antropológica,” by Alicia Haber (doc. no. 1313189)]. These two exhibitions occupied the entire building of the Centro Municipal de Exposiciones, over 5000 sq ft, and both were considered a form of super installation. With the exception of Nelbia Romero’s 1983 large environment, this pair of exhibitions that took place almost a decade later anticipates the genre of installation as a visual language used by contemporary Uruguayan artists of the nineties.
The exhibition Charrúas y montes criollos held in Montevideo in 1991 on Rimer Cardillo, who was based in the United States since 1984, is one of those efforts that gave impetus to artistic works on the concepts of “identity and memory” that unfolded in the nineties in Uruguay. This exhibition on Cardillo especially highlighted the capacity of team work, as it mobilized the municipality’s carpenters, blacksmiths, and workshops in preparing for the exhibition. The will and commitment, generated by the common interest of staging a memory that had only just in 1985 been articulated, is part of the social merit of this exhibition. In it, it appears for the first time in the country, with all its strength, the possibility of connecting a ceremonial metatext of homage to a destroyed past. Included in the exhibition were works of high artisanal value that transcended the mere excellence of workmanship to elevate an aesthetic of the primitive, rudimentary, and symbolic-ritual in service to rescuing memory.