By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran
New York, Feb 1 (EFE).- An exposition of 41 Latin American and Caribbean artists whose work contributed to creating the vibrant New York City art scene during the turbulent decades of the 1960s and ’70s opens to the public this week at the Americas Society in a collection that constitutes a reflection on emigration and identity.
“This Must Be The Place: Latin American Artists in New York, 1965-1975,” scheduled to open on Wednesday, is the second part of an exposition that last year displayed some of the individual and collective work of these immigrant artists who lived and worked in the Big Apple during the 1960s and 1970s and whose work helped revolutionize the city’s art scene.
Among the artists whose work will be on display is Chilean performance artist Francisco Copello (1938-2006), who simultaneously with his work as a printmaker, studied dance and in 1969 in New York, along with Chilean musician Fernando Torm, founded StudioF/Studio 69, a space for printmaking, collage, body art and music.
Also on display will be the work of Enrique Castro (1937-1992), also from Chile, who experimented with computers and circuits to create sculptures that resemble the human body.
In addition, Colombia’s Alicia Barney, born in 1952, gathered together objects and papers from the streets of the city and transformed these materials into sculptures.
The artists, who contributed to making New York the focal point for global art, came to this city for different reasons carrying in their suitcases “very rich” artistic and community experiences, some of them leaving behind the dictatorships that held power in their homelands, and made contact with other artists, including Latinos, Argentine museum curator Aime Iglesias Lukin told EFE.
According to Iglesias, the interesting thing about this period is that it was the moment when New York “really became cosmopolitan.”
“The cultural richness of New York starting in the ’60s and ’70s also grew greatly because of the flow of immigrants who arrived from different parts of the world,” she said.
“Whoever is born and grows up in a place is accustomed to certain things and an immigrant’s perspective is a necessarily different one, with them managing to emphasize things that others don’t see, and in that sense, their work manages to see aspects of the city that perhaps were unobserved” by others, the curator said during a tour of the exposition.
The art that was created in New York includes statements about US politics, as well as about the relationship of this country to Latin America, one example of that being the work of the Taller Boricua (Puerto Rican Workshop) on the Sept. 21, 1976, assassination in Washington of Chilean opposition leader Orlando Letelier, a hit attributed to the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
According to Iglesias, the works presented in the exposition – which total 200 paintings, sculptures, photos and videos – help to provide an understanding of the social and political panorama of the Americas and the tensions and bridges between North and South, exploring the issues of migration, identity, politics, exile and nostalgia.
The second part of the exposition, which will be free to the public, has the human body as its theme and medium of expression and, in doing so, offers a new understanding of identity. Together, the works redefine the parameters and the esthetics of so-called Latin American art, she said.
Iglesias explained that Latin American art has always existed and noted that starting in the 1960s with the migration flow to the United States the idea of the Latin American in this country acquired “a level of presence and identity that it had not had until then.”
“There were other Latino artists who lived earlier in New York but the reality is that at that time (in the 1960s and ’70s) there was an amount of communication, of exchange, that hadn’t existed before,” she said.
Iglesias also emphasized the importance of this exhibition for its multiplicity of styles, its artistic richness and the number of forgotten artists being featured, saying, “We have in this show artists who have been very famous and others who for different reasons have not been investigated.”
“The unique thing about this exposition is the possibility for telling the story not of one person, but of a moment and of a generation,” she added.
“This Must Be The Place: Latin American Artists in New York, 1965-1975” will be open to the public until May 14.