Indepth Arts News: |
"The Experiment of Exercise and Freedom"
1999-10-17 until 2000-01-23
Museum of Contemporary Art
Los Angeles, CA,
USA United States of America
This major exhibition explores the work of five Latin
American artists who moved from traditional art forms
toward a new experimental aesthetic.
The Experimental Exercise of Freedom examines the
contributions of five artists—Clark, Gego, Goeritz,
Oiticica, and Schendel—who created innovative and
highly individualistic work in Latin America from the late
1950s to the 1970s. During the period highlighted by the
exhibition, these artists moved away from traditional art
forms such as painting and sculpture toward a new aesthetic that connected directly with the cultures in
which they lived. With shared roots in modernism—particularly geometric abstraction and European
constructivism—these five artists developed strongly experimental practices that responded to new
aesthetic dimensions and established distinctive and unexplored links with architecture and other
These artists shared beliefs that their artwork was to be regarded not only as an aesthetic object for
passive contemplation, but also as a participatory and transformative experience that advocated new
relationships between art, life, and society. All five artists produced complex bodies of work that called
for close interaction of the viewer with the environment. In their explorations, these artists emphasized the
value of the process and experiences offered by their works.
Goeritz’s experiments with site-specific sculpture and “emotional architecture” (architecture that elicits
feelings or emotions) introduced a new aesthetic to Mexico, a country deeply concerned with national
identity. Today, his Torres de Ciudad Satélite (Towers of Satellite City) , 1957, are renowned
architectural symbols of urban Mexico. Gego created weblike sculptural constructions of metal to
explore the relationship of sculpture to space. Her work reflects her continual experimentation with
structural systems of vertical and parallel lines, and the shapes derived from them (triangles, squares, and
polygons) which are combined and changed through various links. Schendel’s Monotipias (ca.
1962-1964 and ca. 1970) mark the beginning of her investigation of language in a medium other than
painting. Her works made from delicate Japanese rice paper encourage careful investigation.
Both Clark and Oiticica believed that the spectator, rather than the artist, imbues the object with meaning.
As Clark’s sensorial objects are handled and worn, the audience actively eliminates the space between the
object and the viewer. Also included in the exhibition is A casa é o corpo (The House Is the Body) , an
installation representing a metaphorical journey through a woman’s body, completed by audience
participation. Eden is Oiticica’s “experimental ‘campus,’” an environment of quiet and meditative
experiences. From walking on sand, hay, and crushed stones; listening to music in a secluded tent; and
socializing or resting in nest-like areas, the viewer becomes an active and integral component of the work.