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Synopsis

This prescient op-ed takes the events at the 1968 Braque Prize (sponsored by the French embassy in Argentina) as a starting point and uses them to arrive at the conclusion that the finest artwork was the “uproar” that occurred due to the circumstances surrounding the award ceremony. In this sense, it could be asked whether the Premio Braque itself could be considered an artistic action.  Eduardo Ruano’s happening at the Premio Ver y Estimar [To See and Ponder Magazine Prize], Pablo Suárez’s letter-renunciation as well as Ruano’s flyer during the Experiencias ’68 [The 1968 Visual Practices] were defined by the artists themselves as aesthetic actions in the same vein as the interruption of Jorge Romero Brest’s lecture in Rosario. Verbitsky keenly points out that art’s limits were being profoundly questioned and expanded at that time: in this way political action is taken to be the most effective and legitimate artistic manifestation.

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 (which published and distributed this manifesto). 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.  

 

This article is a keen commentary that places these crucial events in sequence following previous episodes, as well as in the middle of a dizzying perspective oriented toward the future. It was published in Confirmado, an important general information weekly.

 

Horacio Verbitsky was at that time a young journalist who served as part of Rodolfo Walsh’s alternative journalism team, in particular of the Seminario CGT, the official publication of the workers’ opposition to the dictatorship of General Juan Carlos Onganía, which began in May 1968.

 

The methods of radicalized political organizations were employed during these incidents (lighting protests, flyers, campaigns of agitation, proclamations—both oral and written—rotten eggs, stonings, and stink bombs). This once again indicates how the artists’ actions incorporated methods of various forms of political intervention. 

Researcher
Ana Longoni.
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo Graciela Carnevale, Rosario, Argentina.