The artist Carlos Altamirano (b. 1954) created this work in 1979; it appeared in the third issue of the magazine CAL (Coordinación Artística Latinoamericana). It was part of Revisión crítica de la historia del arte chileno como trabajo de arte (Critical Review of Chilean Art History as a Work of Art), a participatory project that consisted of asking a question in print and publishing the replies. The project also included conversations (only one actually took place) and a performance by Carlos Leppe (1952–2015) called Acción de la estrella. Altamirano received thirty replies, most of them from other visual artists, which were briefly shown at the gallery. He returned to this project in 2019 as part of his exhibition O si no, presented at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, showing the material he had published in 1979 and setting up a website for new replies. On this occasion he presented a seminar that functioned as a second open conversation, explaining that the process he had begun forty years earlier would end with this latest version. Over the course of time, the question “Is there such a thing as Chilean art?” took on new meaning.
Altamirano’s work questioned Chilean art history, especially its painting tradition. In 1980 he created Versión residual de la historia de la pintura chilena, a canvas on which he printed reproductions of Chilean paintings from earlier years. He had himself photographed with the canvas at various locations on the outskirts of Santiago. The following year he produced the performance Tránsito suspendido, which took place in the Galería Sur and on the sidewalk outside the building, where he projected reproductions of paintings and showed images of the art action presented in 1980. [On the subject of this action, see the following in the ICAA Digital Archive: “Texto sobre Tránsito suspendido de Carlos Altamirano” (doc. 731739) by Justo Pastor Mellado and the homonymous “Texto sobre Tránsito suspendido de Carlos Altamirano” (doc. 731751) by Nelly Richard.] These are considered continuations of the critical review of the history of Chilean painting begun in 1976 by Eugenio Dittborn (b. 1943) in Delachilenapintura, historia. [On that subject, see “Return to the Pleasurable” (743686) by Richard.]
CAL magazine was published by the gallery of the same name that was under the direction of Luz Pereira (1926–2020), a gallery owner who played a key role during the Chilean civilian-military dictatorship (1973–90), although she was already active a little before then in a space called Galería de Bolsillo. In 1976 she started CAL, where she worked with artists who were members of the Escena de Avanzada, to use the name coined by the theorist Nelly Richard (b. 1948). Pereira launched another initiative in the 1980s: Espaciocal, a cultural center with a gallery, bookstore, and movie theaters.