The installation VIOLENCIA by Juan Carlos Romero is one of the most striking conceptual pieces of Latin American art. It was exhibited the first time in Buenos Aires in 1973, in a particularly intense period, with the ending of the dictatorship, intensification of guerrilla activity, and the Triple AAA (Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance) death squad. During this time, Romero was a member of the Grupo de los Trece when he was invited to exhibit VIOLENCIA at Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC) at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires. With the appropriation of documents and other media (posters, photographs, and newspaper headlines), the piece gravitates around the mass-media discourse and the representations of violence present in their broadcast. The installation consists of the tautological repetition of the word ‘violencia’ on posters alongside graphic images. VIOLENCIA, for the political artist Romero, is the art of ‘ideological awareness.’ The installation seeks to provoke the spectator to reflect not only on mechanisms of violence, on its hidden and subtle manifestations, but also its ‘emancipatory’ potential: ‘Violence is everywhere, omnipresent and multiform: brutal, open, subtle, insidious, disguised, rationalized, scientific, condensed, solidified, consolidated, anonymous, abstract, irresponsible,’ Romero wrote in the 1973 exhibition catalog.
Juan Carlos Romero (born 1931 in Avellaneda, Argentina) was crucial to the development of Conceptual art in Argentina. Born into a working-class family, for him the political aspects of art always reigned supreme, bringing art to the streets. During his studies, he worked in the national telecommunications agency, Entel, where he became a union representative. He graduated as Superior Professor of Engraving from the National University of La Plata in 1961. As editor of the visual poetry magazines Vortex and La Tzara, he gravitated towards creating unconventional art pieces, especially mail art and urban interventions. Romero died in 2017 in Buenos Aires.