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Article

Bruscky, Paulo  

Irene V. Small

(Roberto Barbosa )

(b Recife, March 21, 1949).

Irene V. Small

Brazilian multimedia and correspondence artist, film maker, and poet.

His early work of the mid- to late 1960s consisted of drawing, painting, and printmaking as well as poetry influenced by the Brazilian Poesia Concreta and Poema Processo movements. In 1969, the year his drawing O Guerrilheiro was censored by military police, he began to explore experimental practices associated with happenings, conceptual strategies, and new technologies. Beginning in 1970, he teamed up with the artist Daniel Santiago (b 1939), who taught at the Escola de Belas Artes of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, to form ‘Equipe Bruscky–Santiago’. In collaborations that continued for another two decades, the pair realized witty, yet politically subversive actions ranging from environmental and urban interventions and performative events to propositions disseminated by way of telegrams, classified advertisements, and the mail. Bruscky developed independent works as well, often harnessing dark humour and linguistic puns to provoke and defamiliarize perceptions about art and institutionality. In ...

Article

Cruzvillegas, Abraham  

Robin Adèle Greeley

(b Mexico City, 1968).

Mexican sculptor, installation artist, and multimedia artist. A figure in the generation of Mexican artists that came to prominence in the 1990s, Cruzvillegas studied pedagogy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1986–1990). Informally, he also studied caricature with Rafael “El Fisgón” Barajas (1985) and with Gabriel Orozco in the Taller de los viernes (“Friday workshop,” 1987–1991). In 2007 Cruzvillegas began developing the aesthetic platform of autoconstrucción (“self-building”). Rooted in the ad hoc building tactics prevalent in squatter settlements on the outskirts of megacities, his autoconstrucción works inventively repurpose found detritus to produce a materialist critique of object experience in the 21st-century’s global consumer economy.

Cruzvillegas’s early artistic ventures were informed by, among other factors, his participation in the Taller de los Viernes; his engagement with the underground music, political caricature, and comic book scenes; and his encounters with artists and curators committed to opening Mexico’s then relatively insular art world to international ideas. At the informal Taller de los viernes run by Orozco, Cruzvillegas explored artists and ideas not readily available in Mexico at the time, assimilating everything from Robert Filliou’s ...

Article

Dittborn, Eugenio  

Milan Ivelić

(b Santiago, 1943).

Chilean painter, printmaker, draftsman, and video artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the Universidad de Chile in Santiago (1961–1965), at the Escuela de Fotomecánica in Madrid (1966), the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in West Berlin (1967–1969), and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dittborn, together with other theorists and artists working in Chile in the 1970s, based his work on critical examination of the marginal position of Chilean art in relation to international developments, adopting to this end practices at odds with Chilean traditions. Rejecting conventional forms of painting as well as the usual methods of producing and presenting prints, he instead favored photography as a source both of imagery and technique by means of screenprinting. He found his imagery ready-made in the portraits featured in old Chilean criminology magazines; he combined mechanical techniques such as offset lithography and screenprinting with traditional handcrafting methods of embroidery and drawn-threadwork; and in the mid-1980s he even went so far as to produce works on brown wrapping paper, which he folded and then distributed through the ordinary post, calling them his own variant of correspondence art. Dittborn used such contrasts within his work to reflect disparate realities, mirroring the social interaction of different levels in society and underlining the racially mixed origins of Latin American practices by exaggerating the clash between domestic crafts and advanced modern technology....

Article

Downey, Juan  

Milan Ivelić

revised by Gwen Unger

(b Santiago, May 11, 1940; d Jun 9, 1993).

Chilean painter, printmaker, and video artist. He earned a BA in architecture at the Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago in 1961. He also studied printmaking at Taller 99, a workshop in Santiago run by Nemesio Antúnez, where he explored new technical methods for representing machine imagery and energy. In 1961 he traveled to Spain, then to Paris, where he studied at S. W. Hayter’s Atelier 17 until 1965. In Paris Downey became friends with other Latin American artists and writers living in the city at the time such as Julio Le Parc, Roberto Matta, and Pablo Neruda (1904–1973).

In the mid-1960s Downey settled in Washington, DC, where he became interested in and made contact with the pioneers of video art, which became his primary medium. Proposing to work directly with energy rather than simply representing it, he presented his first audio-visual installation in 1966, conveying light, sound, and energy by means of closed-circuit television. Downey was a pioneer in ...

Article

Kac, Eduardo  

Susan Snodgrass

(b Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1962).

Chicago-based multimedia artist, poet, and theorist. Kac’s pioneering works lie at the intersection of telecommunications and biotechnology, forging new, hybrid forms that merge biological processes and new media. Early works include body-based performances, holopoetry (Kac’s invented form of visual poems using holography; see Hologram), robotics, and innovative online projects at the Web’s infancy.

Kac’s interest in telecommunications, computers, and robotics led to experimental projects that integrated these various systems under the rubric of what the artist has termed “telepresence art” (2005; see Kac 2005, 127; see also Computer art). In 1989, he created the wireless robot Ornitorrinco (platypus in Portuguese), in collaboration with Ed Bennett, used in a nearly decade-long series of works that explored communication between humans and robots. A-positive (1997), in which a human and a robot engage in a physical exchange via an intravenous needle, probes the ethical implications of the human–machine interface. Working across disciplines, the artist defined (and redefined) the arena of electronic space to include “dialogical” means of interactivity and interspecies communication, as in ...

Article

Margolles, Teresa  

Robin Adèle Greeley

(b Culiacán, Sinaloa, 1963).

Mexican multimedia and installation artist. A key figure in the generation of Mexican artists that emerged in the 1990s, Margolles studied forensic medicine and communication sciences at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, and was a founding member of the death metal band and performance collective, Semefo (1990–1999), before commencing her independent artistic career. Margolles’s aesthetics consistently focus on the social violence revealed by death, using her experiences as a forensic technician in Mexico City’s morgue to probe the brutality structurally inherent in contemporary urban society.

Margolles’s trajectory can be roughly divided into three periods: her membership in Semefo; her solo work using the city morgue as her studio; and, subsequently, her aesthetic responses to the unfettered violence induced by Mexico’s drug wars.

In Semefo (which took its name from the acronym for Servicio Médico Forense [“Forensic Medical Service”: the city morgue]), Margolles and her colleagues staged macabre art-action performances filled with blood, excrement, entrails, and dead animals, aimed at transgressing the boundaries of the body. These grotesque manifestations sought to explore the transformations experienced by bodies after death, or what Semefo called the “life of the corpse” (...

Article

Matheus, Rodrigo  

Rodrigo Moura

(b São Paulo, 1974).

Brazilian multimedia and installation artist. Matheus graduated from the Escola de Comunicações e Artes of the Universidad de São Paulo, where he was a student of Ana Maria Tavares (b 1958), in 2011. This training gave him an analytical approach in relation to the art object and its place in the art system and society, and in the interest he shared with Tavares for display strategies, the use of unorthodox artistic materials, and the scrutiny of Modernist architecture. Among his first major projects was an intervention in the commercial gallery of the Copan building, an important architectural complex designed by Oscar Niemeyer and built in the city center of São Paulo between 1951 and 1966. In collaboration with fellow artists Ana Luiza Dias Batista (b 1978) and Eurico Lopes (b 1968), the project Plano Copan (2002) created a fictionalized presentation of commercial businesses in the fields of stationery, games, medical devices, and real estate consulting, occupying retail space and the building foyer with signs, vitrines, furniture, and items on display for sale. From this experience, Matheus developed other projects with fictional business identities, for example Engeoplan, a design company responsible for the creation of a smoking room that occupied the interior of the gallery in his solo exhibition at Paço das Artes (São Paulo, ...

Article

Meireles, Cildo  

Denise Carvalho

revised by Mariana von Hartenthal

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1948).

Brazilian interventionist, multimedia, installation, and conceptual artist. Meireles is considered one of the most influential contemporary artists of his country. While international critics have compared his work with North American Minimalism and Conceptual art, Meireles insisted that art should be seductive. He studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes and at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro. Coming of age at a time of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–1985), he circumvented strict state censorship with a series of interventionist works, adding politically charged texts and reinserting the works back into circulation.

In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970), Meireles printed the text “Yankees. Go Home!” onto Coca-Cola glass bottles which would enter circulation after they were returned to be refilled and sold. In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project (1970), the same message was printed on one dollar bills, and on the current Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro. Some bills also queried, “Who killed Herzog?” referring to a Brazilian journalist who died while in police custody. Meireles’ series subverts the mechanistic process of capitalistic insertion and circulation, adding phrases that question the methods and policies of the dictatorship. ...

Article

Neto, Ernesto  

Denise Carvalho

revised by Iliana Cepero

[Saboia de Albuquerque]

(b Rio de Janeiro, Jul 2, 1964).

Brazilian sculptor, multimedia, and installation artist. In 1994 and then in 1997, he took art classes at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage and from 1994 to 1996 he studied at the Museu de Arte Moderna, both in Rio de Janeiro. From 1998 he created large-scale multisensory installations, born out of his interest in anthropology, urbanism, and sociology, transforming the gallery into immersive spaces for playful and contemplative experiences. Neto used stretchable, transparent fabric to create biomorphic hanging tubes, weighed down by sand or spices, such as turmeric, cloves, saffron, or cumin, generating an olfactory response from viewers. Most of Neto’s installations place the human body inside the work of art, allowing the viewer to penetrate his forms. Shapes, colors, stocking-like materials, and, in many cases titles, clearly reference the body, maternity, and sexuality. Underscoring this intention, in 2000 he married his eight-month pregnant bride inside a sculpture called ...

Article

Neuenschwander, Rivane  

Denise Carvalho

revised by Omar Olivares

(b Belo Horizonte, Nov 12, 1967).

Brazilian multimedia artist. Neuenschwander uses a variety of media, from intervention, installation, to conceptual and video art. Most of her work is interactive and focuses on communication, objects, and nature, letting the work of art develop with an amount of uncertainty. She studied at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and at the Royal College of Art in London. Some of her artistic endeavors have been compared to the work of Lygia Clark, as well as that of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.

In I Wish Your Wish (2003; exhibited at the Carnegie International in 2008), hundreds of participants were asked about their wishes, which were then silkscreened on colorful ribbons and exhibited in the gallery. Visitors then tied ribbons on their wrists, leaving a wish behind; the wish would come true only when the worn ribbon fell off, an idea based on a popular tradition of votive exchange. In ...

Article

Orozco, Gabriel  

John-Paul Stonard

revised by Iván Ruiz

(b Jalapa, Veracruz, Apr 27, 1962).

Mexican sculptor, photographer, draftsman, and installation artist. He Orozco was educated in the tradition of public art (his father was the Mexican painter and muralist Mario Orozco Rivera (1930–1998)); his work concentrates a game between economic and minimum gestures, and monumental/unmonumental poetics. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City (1981–1984) and at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid (1986–1987). From 1987 to 1992 he led the Taller de los Viernes (Friday workshop) at his home in Tlalpan, meetings in which young artists presented their work, listened to music, and talked about other artists that interested them, such as Joseph Beuys or Marcel Duchamp. Through his Taller de los Viernes, where Abraham Cruzvillegas, Damián Ortega, Dr. Lakra, and Gabriel Kuri participated, Orozco was known for his remarkable influence on the irruption of philosophy into artist practice. In ...