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 this essay the writer Oscar Marcano discusses El Laberinto (Caracas: Sala RG, 1990), the exhibition of works by the Venezuelan artist Rolando Peña. The author notes the prescient nature of Peña’s work in a preamble in which he talks about the looming Gulf war, referring to the image of a “labyrinth” (in the desert) from a story by Jorge Luis Borges to illustrate that particular moment in history. He reviews the critical content of these works that are about oil, in which “the barrel” is touted as “a true totem of our civilization.” Marcano discusses the installations, happenings, and performances that Peña has presented in various cities in the world, and mentions his life in New York and his association with celebrities such as Andy Warhol. The writer also notes that his compatriots are wary of Peña’s work, so that his success is largely confined to other countries.
In this essay the writer and journalist Oscar Marcano (b. 1958) discusses the work of Rolando Peña (b. 1942). Though it was published on the occasion of the closing of his El Laberinto exhibition at the Sala RG in Caracas in 1990, the essay provides a fairly complete overview of this Venezuelan conceptual artist—known as “El Príncipe Negro”—and his work. Marcano mentions important aspects of Peña’s work, such as its critical and political nature, a signature trait of Latin American conceptual art which, in this case, focuses on what is both a Venezuelan and an international subject: oil. With a deft literary touch, Marcano writes about Peña’s artistic axiology, and reports on his career and his successes in Europe and New York, where he was in touch with avant-garde and counter culture celebrities during the 1960s and 1970s. Marcano also crudely and amusingly describes the “Príncipe Negro” character that Peña created about himself as the “abominable identity that possessed him and defined him as an eccentric, petulant, snobbish, fickle gold digger, an upstart and a bluffer, even after his burial ceremony, which was celebrated in 1975.”
In this essay about Peña, Marcano also touches on topics associated with universal art, such as the possibility that an aesthetic image might somehow be a harbinger of actual events. He also discusses the problems that affect Latin American artists in general, such as how hard it is for their work to be accepted in their native country, and the need to seek recognition elsewhere.