Artist: El Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia (The Vanguard Artists' Group)
Confronting Bodies: Government under the Ongania dictatorship
Date of Action: November 1968
Specific Location: Confederacion General de Trabajo de los Argentinos
Description of Artwork: The Vanguard Artists' Group was created by artists outraged by the tyrrany imposed by the Ongania dictatorship on the Argentine public and the constant censorship that was devastating the art world. They wanted to change the role of the artist in their community. Tucuman is a province in Argentina, populated by sugar mills and farmers who live and work under terrible conditions. "Tucuman arde" (Tucuman is Burning) was an exhibition in which the artists commented on the conditions of the people of Tucuman through photography while loudspeakers blared testimonies from the people themselves. Newspapers articles reportiing the closing of sugar mills were displayed and statistics from the province were handed out to the public. The exhibition was shown in Rosario and Buenos Aires.
Description of Incident: Shortly after the opening of the exhibition in Buenos Aires, it was forced to close by government officials.
Results of Incident: The art community was disheartened, feeling that art's social responsibility to protest or even debate these issues was impossible to fulfill. Following the exhibition, most of the artists ceased to produced art altogether, others clandestinely produced what they could. "Tucuman arde", whose opening was attended by 3,000 people, is said today to have been the most important political statement in the history of art in Argentina.
Source: "La Maga", February 24, 1993, p 28-29.
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