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This article explains that, eight days after the opening of the II Certamen de Investigaciones Visuales [2nd Visual Research Contest] in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971, the public was informed about Decree 5696, which partially acknowledged the jury’s decisions and rejected the two first prizes. The following works were expressly excluded from the contest: Made in Argentina, by Ignacio Colombres and Hugo Pereyra; Celda [Cell] by Gabriela Bocchi and Jorge de Santa María; Afiche [Poster] by Oscar Smoje; A desayunar [Time for Breakfast] by Américo Castilla; Mírese en este espejo [Look at Yourself in this Mirror] by María Luisa San Martín; and Toma de conciencia [Awareness] by Emilio Renart. The article analyzes the various criteria that were considered by the decree, mentioning specifically that the inadmissibility of propaganda and proselytizing material was announced when the works were received and when the votes were issued. The document also reports that the artists filed lawsuits, and includes a statement from the members of the jury denouncing the irregularities committed by the authorities and reserving the right to take legal action of their own.


Argentina’s Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Salon for the Visual Arts] was founded in 1911, and its regulations were modified 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 Investigaciones Visuales [2nd National Visual Research Contest], organized during the de facto administration of Lieutenant General Alejandro Agustín Lanusse (1971–73), the authorities censured the works that had been awarded grand runner-up prize and first prize. 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 Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla (1976–81). In turn, Hugo Monzón was an Argentine art critic; he was also the director of the Museo de Artes Plásticas [Museum of Visual Arts] Eduardo Sívori, and was in charge of the Visual Arts Section of La Opinión.

This document was chosen because it mentions some of the collateral results of Decree 5696/71, and records early repercussions of the government’s action on those directly involved.

Cristina Rossi.
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the personal archives of Hugo E. Monzón, Buenos Aires, R. Argentina
Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana "Dr. Emilio Ravignani".