Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

Política Obrera [Working Class Politics], a Trotskyite faction’s journal, published a lengthy article reporting on the incidents at the opening ceremony of the 1968 Braque Prize by the French Embassy in Argentina. The article suggests that the incidents were not examples of an isolated outburst, but rather another chapter in the steady politicization of a number of visual artists. The article goes on to say that there is nothing new about claims “that some artists are anti-imperialists and leftists,” unlike “the frontal approach, the hand-to-hand combat” that those artists had chosen—a form of realism without borders. Regarding, J. Posadas, a working leader put into qustion, the article disputes his idea that art will disappear under Communism. What does Política Obrera propose to the rebel artists? Though the article quotes the Trotsky and Breton manifesto (“unbounded license in art”), it questions the apolitical nature of society, and its role in the isolated laboratory that it helps to create. 

Annotations

In June 1968, shortly after the French [student strikes in] May, the appearance of a censorship clause in the invitation to participate in the Braque Prize, sponsored by the French Embassy, unleashed a joint reaction from the Rosario and Buenos Aires cultural vanguard groups. The ruling instructed the invited artists to “point out the possible existence of photos, phrases, or writings that are part of the work.” Furthermore, the organizers reserved the right to “make any changes they might judge necessary.” If the purpose of this clause was to avoid the prize being awarded to works expressing the anti-institutional stand of the emerging vanguard groups of Argentina, the censorship had a boomerang effect. The resigning artists decided to intervene in the awards ceremony on July 16 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. During twenty very agitated minutes, they threw around FATRAC (Frente Antiimperialista de Trabajadores de la Cultura) flyers, rotten eggs, and stink bombs at the officials and especially at the prizewinning work, which its creator, Rogelio Polesello, had created based on the colors of the French flag. There were physical struggles, thrown punches, and lots of running around inside the museum. Everything came to an end with a strong reaction by the security forces: the police intervened rapidly, closing the entrance doors and arresting nine people, who were sentenced to thirty days in jail. 

Researcher
Ana Longoni
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
CeDInCI (Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Cultura de Izquierdas en Argentina), Buenos Aires, Argentina