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This article, published in the young newsmagazine Boom (Rosario, Argentina, November 1968), narrates what happened during the “lock-up” action carried out by Graciela Carnevale at the “Ciclo de Arte Experimental” [Experimental Practices of Art Series] that took place in that city on October 8, 1968. With a sarcastic tone, the article refers to the “angelic” attitude displayed by the artist upon receiving the public in the gallery for the inauguration of the exhibition and then proceeding to lock them up during more than an hour and a half. An impatient patron kicked the glass display window, producing an opening through which the public escaped. The text quotes Carnevale’s declarations expressing the success of the action, in that it produced an attitude quite different to the habitual passivity of the public that attends art exhibitions.
The Grupo de Arte de Vanguardia de Rosario—created by a fusion of three workshops, with artists from different artistic organizations (alumni from Juan Grela, the Grupo Taller, and recent graduates of the Escuela de Bellas Artes de la Universidad)—initiates its public collective actions and position statements at the end of 1965. Two years later, the group acquires more cohesion and is acknowledged as one of the most dynamic experimental art groups in the country. At that moment, it comprises Osvaldo Mateo- Boglione, Aldo Bortolotti, Graciela Carnevale, Rodolfo Elizalde, Noemí Escandell, Eduardo Favario, Fernández-Bonina, Emilio Ghilioni, Marta Greiner, José M. Lavarello, Lia Maisonnave, Rubén Naranjo, Norberto Púzzolo, Juan Pablo Renzi, and Jaime Rippa.
The Ciclo de Arte Experimental [Experimental Art Cycle], planned for the early 1968, began in May inside a space that was given to the group by an advertising agency. A short time later, the Instituto Di Tella from Buenos Aires granted it a subsidy that allowed the group to rent a small glass space inside a commercial gallery. Every two weeks, until October 1968, the group would stage an exhibition proposed by one of its members.
The last three presentations of the Cycle (those by Eduardo Favario, Rodolfo Elizalde / Emilio Ghilioni, and Graciela Carnevale) constitute the final block and the most radical “antiformalistic” and “anti-institutional” ruptures of the group.
The “lock-up” action produced by Graciela Carnevale was—unwittingly—the closing of the Cycle. The public had been invited to a new inauguration of the cycle by way of invitations and a newspaper mention. At a certain time, when enough people were gathered in the small room, Carnevale exited the room and locked the only door from the outside, leaving the premises. In this case, the lock up was not experienced as a simulation, but instead as a vital experience charged with violence; different from the other two prior actions of the Cycle (by Favario and by Ghilioni and Elizalde), which they tried to justify finally as “art.” After two hours of patient waiting, the locked-up public had to exit through the storefront thanks to the rescue action of a janitor who had remained outside and had broken the glass. A member of the group—thinking that the work was being ruined—tried to stop the hero by force and everything ended in a riot that brought about, besides police intervention, the consequent closing of the space (and of the Cycle).