Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

Enrique Oteiza informs the Ford Foundation that the Centro de Artes Visuales of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [Center of Visual Art of the Torcuato Di Tella Institute] regrets the episode that occurred with the authorities (both police and municipal) referring to the closure of a work at the Experiencias 68 [1968 Practices]. The work simulated a public restroom upon which visitors would write graffiti. Although the bathroom was cleaned many times, Oteiza states that the authorities objected and left a policeman there on watch. This motivated all the participating artists to withdraw their works in solidarity with the artist of the work being questioned. He also explains that the ITDT gave complete freedom of expression to the artists, both in their choice of language as well as in the message they chose to communicate. Nevertheless, part of the American community residing in Buenos Aires objected to the attitude as an unfriendly gesture toward the United States that was in turn carried out by an institution being supported by an American foundation.

Annotations

The Premio Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [Torcuato Di Tella Institute Prize] was established in 1960, a few months after the creation of the Centro de Arte del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (ITDT) [The Art Center at the Torcuata Di Tella Institute]. The latter organization was run by a board composed of Lionello Venturi, Ricardo Camino, Guido Di Tella and Jorge Romero Brest. The Centro was dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of the visual arts as well as to maintaining contact with other centers linked to national and foreign production. The Prize ITDT was created to award opportunities to young Argentinean artists to enrich their experiences abroad. The prize not only awarded prizes/scholarships, but also favored the dissemination of international art within the local scene. This made it an important institution for the renaissance of the visual arts at the time. The prize was awarded to both national and international artists until 1967, with a few variations according to the given year. In 1967 it became known as the Experiencias Visuales [Visual Practices]. Later, in 1968 and 1969 it became known solely as Experiencias [Practices]. In 1963 Romero Brest resigned as Director of the Museo National de Bellas Artes [National Museum of Fine Arts] and accepted the position of director of the Centro de Artes Visuales [Center of Visual Arts] of the ITDT. In 1968 the artists Rodolfo Azaro, Oscar Bony, Delia Cancela, Pablo Mesejean, Jorge Carballa, Roberto Jacoby, David Lamelas, Margarita Paksa, Roberto Plate, Pablo Suárez, Juan Stoppani, Antonio Trotta and Alfredo Rodríguez Arias were invited to participate in the Experiencias 68 [The 1968 Practices].

Roberto Plate’s work Baño [Bathroom] simulated a public restroom for men and women; visitors could write graffiti on the walls within. Given that the authorities closed the installation, the artists participating in the Experiencias 68 decided to withdraw and, together with other artists, signed a declaration against the measure.

In this document, Enrique Oteiza, the director of the Centro de Artes Visuales of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [Center of Visual Arts of the Torcuato Di Tella Institute], submits a report to the Ford Foundation, because it contributed financial support to the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. It is interesting to note that the letter attempted to play down the effects of the incident by qualifying the episode with the authorities as “minor.” Although the entire affair occurred without violence, [this document] hints at the repercussion it had in the media, given the support of the artists who convened the press to cover the moment they withdrew their works.

Researcher
Cristina Rossi
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit
Courtesy of Archivo di Tella, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivos Di Tella, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella Buenos Aires, Argentina.