Using these key themes. Fascism, the loss of the real and the utopia to demonstrate how the artists representing Peru have responded to these concepts and how they have utilised some of them in their work shown at the Venice Biennale.
The artists Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves are life partners and artistic collaborators who created the artwork for the Peru Pavilion. Their work usually offers an alternative to the stereotypical views on Latin American cultures and landscapes, specifically the overlooked details of its places as well as its inhabitants. Misplaced Ruins, (Fig. 1) seeks to address the problems of engaging cultural differences. Peru itself was in a dictatorship not that long ago, and the artists respond to this in the work. The piece, Untitled (Flag) is appropriately non-descript in colour and texture. The universal nature of the colour grey permits the viewer to project their own cultural experiences onto the work. The majority of the work in the Pavilion is grey, a neutral colour, perhaps because the artists do not want the work to look like it is promoting the country’s former dictatorship. In previous generations Peruvian art was used as a propaganda tool. This tool was used by the Nazis, who were one of the most avid users of this technique:
“Nazi leadership exploited this cultural trauma, and just as clearly they exploited the modern mediums and effects which did so much to dissolve the real – mediums like film, effects like spectacle” (Foster, 1985:80)
The Nazis found out that they could project their views onto the masses of Germany through everyday media such as newspapers, radio and art. This idea meant that images of propaganda were flooding into people’s houses and everyday lives, thus this tool allowed the Nazis to brainwash the population. They even went as far as curating entire exhibitions dedicated to their cause, for example the Munich exhibition of Degenerate Art in 1937 was curated to show the population ‘bad’ art, art which did not conform to Nazi ideologies. (Fig. 2) (Barron, 1991)
The artwork at the Peru pavilion has not been created to idolise about fascism, rather to point out there is not much history surrounding the country before it became republic. The artists’ work also references international negotiations due its grey colour, which is not associated to any country’s flag in particular.
“Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves thus present the culturally specific reference as one riddled by unspecificity, betrayed by the blind spots of its translation: political agendas, vested interests, equivocation.” (Hernandez-Calvo, 2015:132)
Highlighting the effect dictatorships have on countires, the lack of colour generating the feeling that everything is plain and the same.
The work has a utopian view in the sense that the pieces aim to promote these ideals, which seem to be lacking in some parts of the world today. The globally legible core of the work achieves this idealistic aim, which would to some be considered a utopian society. (Rose, 1984) The artists in this work question the dialogue between common history, mutual goals and shared values. In Hal Foster’s text he speculates that modern day Marxist critics want to recreate this idea of the utopia as a subversive concept, stating that all cultural texts in order to work as ideals must enlist utopian desires. “Which only then can be defused, controlled, “managed”; indeed, that even the most ideological of these texts contains some collective drive or fantasy” (Foster, 1985:95). This particular aspect of utopia is also present in Franco Berardi’s The Post-Futurist Manifesto 2009. Berardi talks about a utopian society as having time to ourselves without the pressure of goals. The manifesto is made up of eleven points, each relating to what Berardi believes society should inspire to be. This is particularly evident in point five, “We want to sing of the men and the women who caress one another to know one another and the world better.”(Berardi, 2009) This idealistic interpretation seems to be of an alien concept, not a realistic interpretation of the world today.
Fig 1. Misplaced Ruins (2015)
Fig 2. Munich exhibition of Degenerate Art in (1937)
Berardi, F. (2009). The Post-Futurist Manifesto. Available: http://www.generation-online.org/p/fp_bifo5.htm. (Last accessed 28th Nov 2015.)
Berger, B. (2009). Why Look at Animals?. London. Penguin Books.
Enwezor, O. (2015). All the World’s Futures: 56 International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezis Box Edition. Marsilio.
Jean and Shelia Faria Glaser (ed.) Baudrillard, (2004). Simulacra and Simulation Edition. University of Michigan Press
Foster, H. (1985). Recordings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics. Washington: Bay Press.
Foster, H. (1996). The Return of the Real. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1888). The Communist Manifesto. London: Pluto Press.
Rose, M. (1984). Marx’s Lost Aesthetic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Barron, S. (1991). Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant- Garde in Nazi Germany. New York: N.Abrams