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Edgardo Antonio Vigo’s response to the summons to side against the 1971 São Paulo Biennial. This artist explains that—upon being invited to the event—he had already agreed to participate. The subsequent resignation of the Argentinean selection organizer, Jorge Glusberg, precluded him to bring to the fore his overt opposition to the Brazilian biennial. As a consequence, Vigo sends a graphical response, headed by the letters “TNT,” with a photo and a dialog bubble, in which states that he considers only by means of mere thoughts the situation unsolvable. Instead, it requires “direct actions” through the use of trinitrotoluene, referring to the letters heading his reply.


Edgardo Antonio Vigo (1928-97) was born and died in La Plata, Province of Buenos Aires. He created objects, engravings, statements, postal art, and visual poetry. He organized the Exposición Internacional de Novísima Poesía [International Exhibition of The Newest Poetry] at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. In 1961, Vigo founded the journal Diagonal Cero [Diagonal Zero] and later, in 1971, the journal Hexágono.

It must be taken into account that, since its inception in 1951, the São Paulo Biennial was a focal point for both the circulation and the consecration of Latin American art. The document is a response to the open summons carried out by the action-nucleus that was generated around the Museo Latinoamericano, and made up by a group of New York-based visual artists, in addition to the MICLA [Latin American Cultural Independence Movement]. This response was published in the book Contrabienal [Counter- Biennial] designed and printed by the group made up of Luis Wells, Luis Camnitzer, Carla Stellweg, Liliana Porter, and Teodoro Maus. There, the initiative of opposition to the Brazilian biennial (so-called “the Dictatorial Biennial”) was displayed. Given the fact that Brazil—like many other Latin American countries in the 1970s—was ruled by an adamant regime of censorship, repression, and torture, this document brings to light one of the strategies of resistance wielded by artists to confront any kind of dictatorial policies.

Cristina Rossi
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the Archives of Centro de Arte Experimental Vigo (CAEV)-Fundacion Centro de Artes Visuales (CAV) de la Plata, Argentina.
Archivo Juan Carlos Romero.