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León Ferrari writes a detailed evaluation of Tucumán Arde [Tucumán is Burning], framing it within the previous events (Itinerario del ’68) [Timetable for 1968]. In it he points out that “its purpose was to make art into a revolutionary tool, to use art to make policy, to participate in the country’s liberation through the [exercise of] the profession.” Regarding the work’s negative aspects, the artist stresses that Tucumán Arde was used as a launching platform for conceptual art, as well as the manifestation of the participants’ individuality. This resulted in the early dissolution of the group. In addition, it did not manage to develop a new language “of and by the exploited” (underlined in the original text). This meant that the work’s impact on the new public (the exploited people) did not reflect the devised plans and expectations because of its immediate closure by police.   Coinciding with the article “Límites de lo legal” [The Limits of Legality], which appeared in the (anti)magazine Sobre No. 1, Ferrari states that the group “was not able to articulate new mechanisms for communication nor new forms that managed to reach the proposed goals.” Those “new forms” refer to the following:   * aesthetic creation as a violent and collective action
 * revolutionary art as complete art (because it integrates those elements that make up the human reality, a transformational art (with regard to social structures) and a socially conscious art (because it destroys the cultural and aesthetic preconceptions of the bourgeoisie, joining together with revolutionary forces.)  Despite pointing out these limits/criticisms, Ferrari holds up the politicization of around thirty artists as a positive effect [of the endeavor]. [Other positive results include] the dissemination of the condemnation of the Tucumán crisis and the theoretical contributions made (by means of documents, manifestoes, and discussions) to the complex problem of the relationship between art and politics. He concludes by affirming that Tucumán Arde had an enormous impact on the avant-garde linked to the Instituto Torcuato Di Tellaby precipitating its final crisis (in his judgment, it was “a well-aimed cannon shot”).


Shortly after the Itinerario de 1968, that marked the accelerated process of political and artistic radicalization of the Rosario and Buenos Aires avant-gardes, had ended, some artists assess or take positions on the current status of the formulation of "a new aesthetic," as it was known. The very people involved mark the limits of that year’s experiences; they propose new modalities of cultural action (that in some cases were carried out) and take part in the dispute regarding the definition of Tucumán Arde’s meaning, disseminating the materials that they had produced.   Offered in 1973, León Ferrari’'s (1920–2013) response to the questionnaire presented by the Escuela de Letras de la Universidad de La Habana (Cuba) stands out among the rest due to its depth and breadth.

Ana Longoni
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the personal archives of Alicia and León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Archivo de León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina.