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This article reviews the alternative opening of the II Certamen Nacional de InvestigacionesVisuales [2nd National Visual Research Contest] in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971, which took place after the scheduled date and did not include the censored works (Grand Runner-Up Prize: Made in Argentina by Ignacio Colombres and Hugo Pereyra, and Celda [Cell] by Gabriela Bocchi and Jorge de Santa María). The public was not permitted to see these works, nor were they allowed to learn the decision of the duly established jury. The article stated that although Gyula Kosice, one of the members of the jury, had not voted for the censored works, he believed that the Salon should open on the appointed date and should respect the jury’s decisions in their entirety, since the jury’s ruling is not subject to appeal.
Argentina’s Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Salon for the Visual Arts] was founded in 1911, and its regulations were modified over time whenever it was deemed necessary to do so. In 1968 and 1969 the Salón Nacional included the Sección “Investigaciones Visuales” [“Visual Research” Section] in order to provide space for new forms of experimental art (kinetic objects, Pop, etc.) which in turn led to the Certamen Anual de Investigaciones Visuales [Annual Visual Research Contest] in 1970 and 1971. At the II Certamen Nacional de InvestigacionesVisuales [2nd National Visual Research Contest], organized during the de facto administration of [President] Alejandro Agustín Lanusse (1971-1973), the authorities censored the works that had been awarded grand runner up and first prizes. The government used Executive Decree 5696/71 to exclude the prize-winning works from the exhibition and declare them “unacceptable” due to their “manifest ideological intent.” As a result, neither of the jury’s two prizes was awarded. The government’s decision was condemned by artists and by certain cultural organizations, and led to several lawsuits. La Opinión, the Argentine newspaper founded by Jacobo Timerman in 1971, was critical of the government and its actions. In 1977 it was closed and expropriated by the de facto regime of [President] Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-81). Hugo Monzón was an Argentine art critic in charge of the Visual Arts Section of La Opinión and the director of the Museo de Artes Plásticas [Museum of Visual Arts] Eduardo Sívori. This document was chosen because of its coverage of the reaction in cultural circles to the arbitrary decision taken by the authorities in regard to the II Certamen de Investigaciones Visuales in 1971. It is interesting to note that, in this case, Monzón not only reports on the alternatives, but also expresses his critical opinion as regards the pressure and censorship that restrict artistic creativity.