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‘When you think of public art in Buenos Aires, your mind immediately goes to the beautiful monuments that punctuate the city,’ observes curator Cecilia Alemani, who invited a decidedly of-the-moment group of artists to plant their flags in the city as part of the unconventional pop-up exhibition ‘Hopscotch (Rayuela)’ last year. ‘Still, there is space for expanding a more contemporary notion of public art.’
It is with a similar aim to weave contemporary creative statements into the urban fabric that the Government of the City of Buenos Aires has organized the Semana del Arte (April 8–14). Alongside museum visits and guided tours, films, and talks, five Argentine artists have been invited to present contemporary works in a central public square, the Plaza Intendente Francisco Seeber in Palermo. They include Margarita Paksa, a pioneer of 1960s conceptualism whose investigations of media and transmission are wowing a new generation; Carlos
Below, three of the participating artists offer insights on how and why they create artworks to exploit the uniquely charged conditions of the public sphere.
I think that as long as we have platforms, spaces, and projects where the will of artists can manifest and disappear within the urban web, we can still make a viewer wonder: What exactly is this thing I’m looking at? Maybe our ability to work as artists depends on it. Now, I’m convinced, we should work towards the outside. We do not need to carry the urinal to the museum anymore; we need to place it in the park.
So can – or should – public art play a role in social movements?
Marie Orensanz: An artist is only a witness of their time. They could enact a transformation of thought – maybe not politically, but socially.
Luna Paiva: I think art is an incredible tool that can bring together both people and ideas. Inequality continues to be a major issue in Argentina, and as artists we have an opportunity to participate in social transformation. Currently, I’m working with on a project with Guaraní artisans in Paraguay. I have Guaraní blood and family in Paraguay. We all have individual causes that matter to us, and I am hopeful we can also find common cause.
Mariana Telleria: Obviously, art can play a role in social movements; art can do anything it wants to do. But – and no matter how often this cross is laid on the back of art – it will not prevent wars, it will not end poverty. Art will never be state policy, even. But art can still produce a placebo effect in those of us who acknowledge how rotten the world is, and still choose to live in it.
Unless otherwise noted, the artworks are on view at the Plaza Intendente Seeber in Palermo, April 8–14, 2019, from 11am to 10:30pm daily. For more information about the public program of the Semana del Arte and other events in Buenos Aires, please click here.
Top image: Plaza Seeber by Roberto Fiadone, via Wikimedia Commons.
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