The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In his presentation, the theorist and critic Juan Acha—whose central theme is on the analysis of the processes of artistic work and its technical divisions—makes a cursory historical overview on the topic before addressing the case of Latin America, as a way to “effectively transform reality.” Acha builds on the Marxist dialectical method to conclude that one must develop one’s own theories and produce one’s own innovations that respectively originate in one’s reality, and therefore in opposition to those theories based on the myth of the artist, presumptions which consider that the problems relating to art lie in the artist, the creator, as the sole authority.
The presentation the Mexico-based Peruvian art critic and theorist Juan Acha (1916-95) is important not only for its “innovative and controversial” subject matter, which the author himself recognizes, but because the object of reflection was the Latin American art that was being produced during the late 1970s when the critic delivered his lecture. Acha begins with the premise that the “intellectual maturity” of Latin Americans makes them capable of facing new cultural environments and analyzing them, while taking the appropriate distance. He argues that in contrast to the previous decade, this maturity makes it possible for a rupture from the existent models created by the hegemonic countries. On the other hand, Acha’s analysis is important because it moves away from radical nationalist views, focused only on the imaginary character of the art or the myth of the artist while trying, on the other hand, to place the problem in a broader socio-economic and cultural context, integrated with other factors that include the definitive recognition of Latin American artistic potential as an unquestionable reality, although one that needs to be transformed.
The first Primer Encuentro Iberoamericano de Críticos de Arte y Artistas Plásticos was held in 1978, at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas. In addition to Juan Acha, other colleagues and figures relevant to the art world who were in attendance included Jorge Alberto Manrique, Jorge Glusberg [see doc. no. 815475], Marta Traba [doc. no. 815744], Julio Le Parc, Adelaida de Juan [doc. no. 815544], Carlos Rodríguez Saavedra, Jacqueline Barnitz, Berta Taracena [doc. no. 815558], Antonio Berni, Galaor Carbonell, Marco Miliani, Alirio Rodríguez, Roberto Montero Castro [doc. no. 815631], Élida Román [doc. no. 815617], Ida Rodríguez Prampolini, Carlos Areán, Roberto Puntual and Aracy A. Amaral.
An important antecedent to the event was the “Austin Symposium” organized by Damián C. Bayón and the University of Texas at Austin, at the end of October, 1975. Many of the participants that attended the 1978 Primer Encuentro Iberoamericano de Críticos de Arte y Artistas Plásticos attended the symposium in Austin, which resulted as background for common discussion. The proceedings of the event were published in Venezuela by Damian C. Bayón (as a rapporteur) in El artista latinoamericano y su identidad (Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, Colección Estudios, 1977; 150 pp. illustrated in black and white).
It is important to note the fact that though some of the presentations delivered during the gathering have subsequently been included in monographic or anthological compilations, they were all unpublished at the time of the 1978 event at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas. Due to this fact, these presentations are primary sources of great documentary value.