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León Ferrari writes to Leopoldo Maler about Palabras ajenas [Other People’s Words], to discuss the staging of the London production and to critique European culture. He talks about the presentation of Tucumán Arde at the Rosario and Buenos Aires headquarters of the Central General de Trabajadores de los Argentinos (CGTA), the labor union. Ferrari refers to critics of the production and disagreements among the producers. He mentions the difficulty of working with the people from the Torcuato Di Tella Institute, and goes on to say that, after nine months of “political group art” he has decided to return to his papers and his earlier projects. He comments on the police censorship of Tucumán Arde in Buenos Aires. Ferrari closes by mentioning the gathering of Argentine artists of all stripes linked to an overt political stance in art.
León Ferrari was born in Buenos Aires in 1920, the son of Augusto Cesare Ferrari, the Italian artist and architect. The younger Ferrari was a latecomer to the plastic arts, a status which allowed him to function as a link between the generation of artists from the late fifties and the young avant-garde of the sixties. His early works were ceramic sculptures, but in later years he experimented with wire structures, with a visual form of writing, and with collages. There are two distinct themes running through his work: one is a strong condemnation of military dictatorships, American imperialism, and the ideology of the Catholic Church. The other has a more formalistic quality, expressed in a conceptual style and, at times, in the surrealist tradition. His 1965 object-montage, titled Civilización Occidental y Cristiana [Western Christian Civilization], was censured at the Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [the Torcuato Di Tella Institute’s Visual Arts Center] (see documents 743800, 744085, and 761879). It depicts a Christ mounted on a US Air Force bomber that is plunging Earthward. Ferrari was involved in the political conceptualism movement of the seventies (particularly Tucumán Arde, in 1968). In response to the most recent Argentine military dictatorship’s repressive regime (1975-83), he went into exile in Brazil, where he explored a variety of ideas, such as formalism and the reproducibility of a work, as well as the spatial relationship between sculpture and music (see documents 743960, 744392, and 743870, among others). In 1984 his work was once again exhibited in Buenos Aires, where he finally returned and settled. Correspondence between two Argentine artists, León Ferrari and Leopoldo Maler (Buenos Aires, 1937) about the stage version of Palabras ajenas [Other People’s Words]. In1968, Maler was working as a radio announcer at the BBC in London. The production was presented at the Arts Laboratory in October 1968 under the name Listen Here Now. A New Concert for Four Voices and a Soft Drum, directed by Jim Haynes. León Ferrari, Palabras ajenas : conversaciones de Dios con algunos hombres y de algunos hombres con algunos hombres y con Dios [Other People’s Words: conversations between God and certain men, and between certain men and certain men and God] (Buenos Aires: Falbo editor, 1967).