This presentation introduces the publication Losing the human form. A seismic image of the 1980s in Latin America, conceived in connection to and in dialogue with the exhibition of the same name. The publication, unlike a conventional catalogue, does not enumerate the works and practices found in the exhibition but rather presents itself as yet another (possible) mechanism by which to activate these practices in a reflection about the present.
A glossary tends to be part of an annex appearing at the end of a publication. This book has inverted this logic and structured the entire publication around this tool. The publication is seen as a system that articulates – through relationships of affinity and contagion – a set of key concepts derived from both the lexicon of words and expressions coined by activists and artists during those years and from the anachronistic exercise of reframing these experiences in the light of the present. Each concept incites us to think about those practices, those ways of doing things in art and the politics of the experiences explored. The entries contain references to other categories in the glossary, in which the same experience or common practices can be approached from other perspectives. Furthermore, each entry is accompanied by abundant graphic material, photos and writings from the period, thus forming a profuse and polyphonic documentary base. These key concepts are intended to function as spearheads which, by traversing the material memory of these practices (documents and works of art) and also their immaterial memory (testimonies), give rise to new meanings.
The publication – and what it may give rise to –, as a pioneering effort in the revision of this decade in Latin America, is thus understood as a fluid space, a mechanism that is as-of-yet incomplete, a living and imperfect organism. The project, far from delimiting the moment, seeks to point out networks of relationships, common ways of doing things, processes of contamination and displacement of different bodies, encouraging, as does the exhibition, new processes of subjectivation and transformation.
Fernando Davis, researcher, professor and independent curator. He is involved in research projects about artistic practices carried out in Argentina during the 1960s and 70s. He is a former member of the network Conceptualismos del Sur.
Iván de la Nuez, essayist, art critic and exhibition curator. He has been the head of the Department of Cultural Activities at the Contemporary Culture Centre of Barcelona (2009-2011) and director of exhibitions at the Palacio de la Virreina, also in Barcelona (2000-2009).
Mabel Tapia, editor of the present publication. A researcher, she is currently completing her doctoral studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de París and the University of Buenos Aires.
Jaime Vindel, member of the network Conceptualismos del Sur. A researcher, art critic and editor, he conducts research projects exploring the relationships between art and politics.