The School of the South: Lessons in Latin American Art
Convened by Sol Calero & Isobel Whitelegg

21 November 2015

Over time the term Latin American Art has accumulated different associations. It structures knowledge and shapes expectations, while at the same time being strategically appropriated or subverted by artists, curators, and critics. This conference aimed not to debate the validity of the term ‘Latin American Art’ but rather to think about the meanings it has gained through past and present practices, and how this inherited category can be used or negotiated.

This event formed part of the public programme for Sol Calero’s commission La Escuela del Sur.

  1. Bruno Verner and Eliete Mejorado discuss the 1980’s Brazilian Post Punk scene, DIY Tropical culture and the emergence of an underground post-tropicalist sensibility.

    From the last years of military dictatorship to the country’s subsequent re-democratisation process, Brazilian post punk was instrumental in forging an experimentalist and yet popular public sphere.
    Drawing on Tetine’s albums The Sexual Life of the Savages (Soul Jazz Records) & Slum Dunk Presentes Funk Carioca (Mr Bongo Records), this talk explores an intense period of collectivism and DIY production of music, text, art & performance.

  2. Mythology of diaspora: A story of geographical and cultural displacements

  3. The task of integrating the visual arts and architecture is not an easy one. As the Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert wrote in the 1950s, “it is not for every artists and architect to attempt.” Venezuela has famous examples on the high and the low ends of the scale. Jaime Gili will review a few of these projects that attempt to go beyond public art, weaving them along many stories of mid-20th century and present Venezuela, where the subject of “Energy” constantly appears accompanying an alternation of deep misery with hints of glory.

    Lucia Pizzani concentrates on Venezuela’s present decadence, looking into the change on National symbols and institutions and the ubiquitous use of propaganda.

  4. A discussion with Alessio Antoniolli (Director of Gasworks), Tanya Barson (Curator of International Art at Tate Modern) & Kiki Mazzucchelli (independent curator and writer) focuses on how Latin American art is represented through art institutional and curatorial practices, addressing the possibilities and limitations of international visibility.

  5. Sol Calero (b. 1982 Caracas, Venezuela) lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include Sala Mendoza, Caracas (2015), SALTS, Birsfelden (2015), Gillmeier Rech, Berlin (2014); Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (2014); Frutta Gallery, Rome (2013). Recent group exhibitions include KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2015) and Mostyn, Llandudno (2015). Upcoming projects in 2016 include David Dale Gallery, Glasgow. Calero is represented by Laura Bartlett Gallery, London. She is co-director of the Berlin project space Kinderhook & Caracas.

    Isobel Whitelegg is an art historian, lecturer and curator. She specialised in Latin American Art at the University of Essex and has published widely on the international reception of art from Latin America. Isobel has recently joined the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies, and teaches its specialised MA Art Museum & Gallery Studies programme. She is interested in approaching exhibition history not as a series of isolated events but rather by relation to the wider histories of contemporary art museums and non-collecting institutions, and a focus for her current research is the critical history of the Bienal de Sao Paulo. She previously occupied two positions that operated between academic and arts-institutional contexts: as LJMU Research Curator within the Tate Research Centre: Curatorial Practice & Museology (2014-15) and as Head of Nottingham Contemporary’s Public Programme (2011-14), a leading platform for the public debate of ideas and practices relevant to contemporary art and its institutions. Prior to this she was Course Director, MA Curating, Chelsea College of Art & Design (2009-11) and a member of the TrAIN Research Centre, University of the Arts London (2008-11).

    Alessio Antoniolli is the Director of Gasworks, London, where he leads a programme of residencies, exhibitions and participation projects focusing on emerging UK and international artists. During his time at Gasworks he has curated the first exhibition UK exhibition by Song Dong, Lynette Yiadom Boakye, Renata Lucas and Tamar Guimaraes amongst others. Alessio is also the Director of Triangle Network, a platform that generates and facilitate projects amongst a group of grass-roots organisations around the world. In 2009 Alessio instigated the Knowledge and Skills Sharing Programme, an ongoing series of professional development and training opportunities for artists and arts coordinators within the Triangle Network.

    Tanya Barson has been Curator of International Art at Tate Modern since 2007. She was Exhibitions and Collections Curator at Tate Liverpool from 2004, having joined Tate in 1997. Most recently, she curated the exhibition Mira Schendel, Tate Modern (2013). Other exhibitions she has curated include Frida Kahlo, Tate Modern (2005), Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, Tate Liverpool (2010) and The Peripatetic School: Itinerant Drawing from Latin America, Drawing Room, London (2011). She was an advisory curator on the exhibition Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2015) and is currently working on a major retrospective exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe to be presented at Tate Modern in 2016. Since 2002 she has worked on acquisitions of Latin American art for Tate’s collection and as a result has travelled, lectured and conducted research widely in the region.

    Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena graduated from The Royal College of Art in Stockholm 2002. Fabra Guemberena’s work has been exhibited extensively internationally, among others in the exhibition “Delays and Revolutions” at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003; “My Private Heroes” Marta Hereford Museum, 2006; “The Moderna Exhibition”, The Modern Museum of Art, Stockholm, 2006; “Favored Nations”, 5th Momentum Biennal, Moss, 2009; 1st Biennale of The Americas, Denver, 2013; and the School of Kyev, Kyev, 2015. Fabra Guemberena is represented in collections such as The Modern Museum of Art, Stockholm; Sammlung Goetz, München; and The Wanås Foundation, Knislingen, Sweden. He is currently based in Berlin and Stockholm.

    Kiki Mazzucchelli is an independent curator and writer working between London and São Paulo. She holds an MA in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College and is currently a PhD candidate at TrAIN (University of the Arts). Recent projects include the Solo Projects/ Latin America section at ARCO Madrid (with Emiliano Valdes and Miguel Lopez), Tonico Lemos Auad’s solo exhibition at Pivô (São Paulo) and the group show Akakor (Galeria Baró, São Paulo). Forthcoming projects include Sitelines, Site Santa Fe Biennial (2016), New Mexico. Recent publications include The São Paulo Biennial and the Rise of Contemporary Brazilian Art (IN Contemporary Art Brazil, ed. Hossein Amirsadegui and Catherine Petitgas, London: Transglobe, 2012) and a chapter on the São Paulo art scene in the forthcoming publication Avant-Gardes of the 21st Century (London: Phaidon, 2013) Lucia Pizzani (b. 1975 Caracas, Venezuela) lives and works in London. She holds a BA in Communications Studies (Universidad Católica Andres Bello, Caracas), Certificate in Conservation Biology from CERC at Columbia University (New York) and Master in Fine Arts from the Chelsea College of Art and Design (London). Recent awards and residencies include: Photofusion Hotshoe Award 14, (London, 2014) the Emerging Artist Award by the AICA, International Art Critics Association/Venezuela, (Caracas, 2013), and the XII Premio Eugenio Mendoza (Caracas, 2013) with a following Residency at Hangar (Barcelona). Pizzani has exhibited internationally in museums and galleries such as Oficina#1 (Caracas), Sala Mendoza (Caracas), Cecilia Brunson Projects (London), Queens Museum (NY), MOLAA Museum Of Latin American Art (LA), Jacobo Borges Museum (Caracas), Stephen Lawrence Gallery (London), the MARCO Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Vigo and Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá), among others. Her works is represented in private and public collections such as the Essex Collection for Art from Latin America ESCALA, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, CPPC, Museum Of Latin American Art, MOLAA, Colección Banco Mercantil and Colección Juan Yarur.

    Jaime Gili is a Venezuelan-born, London-based artist known for a painting practice that moves away from the strict, traditional boundaries of the canvas, and into the realm of public interventions. He uses bold, modernist designs on a huge scale to play off of pre-existing architectural features and cover spaces like walls and even entire building facades. Gili’s large-scale works are deeply intertwined with his Venezuelan heritage—referencing the public artworks commissioned in Latin America during the oil industry’s economic boom times of the twentieth century. Gili has exhibited his work widely, including a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Winterthur, and group exhibitions at the Liverpool Biennial, Kunsthalle Bern, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Royal Academy in London.

    Bruno Verner (b. 1971 Belo Horizonte, Brazil) is a musician, poet and performance artist best known for his work with Brazilian tropical punk funk art duo Tetine which he formed with Eliete Mejorado in São Paulo in 1995. With Tetine, he has created a multitude of music & performance works from the spoken word to electronica, including ritualistic performances, sound installations, film & video. His music has been released on labels such as Soul Jazz Records / Mr Bongo / Bizarre Music / Sulphur Records /Slum Dunk Music – including a collaboration with French artist Sophie Calle “Samba de Monalisa – Tetine Vs Sophie Calle”. Verner has also been instrumental in bringing the Brazilian underground music scene to the attention of the UK and Europe for a number of years. He compiled, presented & mixed the first album of Baile Funk produced outside of Brazil ‘Slum Dunk Presents Funk Carioca’, (Mr Bongo Records in 2004) as well as an essential primer to early-80s Post-Punk from São Paulo, the influential The Sexual Life of The Savages – Underground Post Punk from Sao Paulo, released on Soul Jazz Records in 2005). Verner was also an active member of Belo Horizonte‘s post punk & industrial scene from the mid 80’s, having played alongside pioneering local acts such as R. Mutt, Divergência Socialista, Ida & e Os Voltas & O Grito Mudo – over a period spanning from 1984-1990. His early sound work is compiled in limited cassette tapes & compilations such as Lilith Lunaire by Divergência Socialista, R. Mutt (R. Mutt), Mulata Urbana (O Grito Mudo), Jovens Raptados (Ida & Os Voltas) ‘Substancia’ – (Marcelo Dolabela & Divergência Socialista). Verner’s early tracks with Divergência Socialista, Tetine and O Grito Mudo were also included in the compilation Uncorrupted Tropical Wave (1983 – 2011). Bruno Verner is currently carrying out his PHD research in Visual Cultures on Goldsmiths University. On another note he has also run the Brazilian radio show Slum Dunk on Resonance Fm 104.4 since the station’s inception.

    Eliete Mejorado (b. 1967 São Paulo, Brazil) is a Brazilian artist, musician and filmmaker, also member of tropical punk funk art duo Tetine. Mejorado has been working widely throughtout Europe and Brazil presenting experimental performance pieces as well as exhibiting art videos, films, installations and radio shows. Recent projects include 53 Diamantes: A Collection of Black Stories, Crimes, Falsos-Brilhantes & Other Poems, at Galeria Jacqueline Martins in Sao Paulo, Tetine’s new film-essay ‘The 4th World’ (2015) commissioned by Itau Cultural, and pieces such as UNHEARD & SPOKEN, “I Hope you Enjoy Your Stay”, “Tetine vs O Bandido Da Luz Vermelha” amongst many others. Mejorado has also produced a number of artist’s music albums, 12’ Eps and compilations including Black Semiotics (2013), In Loveland With You (2013), Tropical Punk (2010), Let Your X’s Be Y’s (2008). Her music has been released internationally on record labels such as Soul Jazz Records / Mr Bongo / Bizarre Music / Sulphur Records /Slum Dunk Music. With Tetine, she has also extensively performed live from opening ‘Tropicalia – A Revolution in Brazilian Culture’ exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London to numerous art performances for museums, art spaces, cinemas and festivals around the world. Actions, projects and live performances were shown from Palais de Tokyo in Paris to Chicago (The Wire’s Adventures in Modern Music Festival) and Sonar (Festival of Advanced Music & New Media Art, Museu Serralves, Hebbel Am Ufer in Berlin, Whitechapel Gallery, Frankfurter Kunstverein, National Museum of Contemporary Art of Norway, Sternessen Museum amongst many others.

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