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Gego and Jesús Rafael Soto in Enemies of Poetry: Resistance in Latin America at Museo Reina Sofía

Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt), Tronco decagonal n.º 4 (Decagonal Trunk No. 4), 1976. Stainless steel, lead, 215 x 56 x 58 cm. Long-term loan of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, 2016

Enemies of Poetry: Resistance in Latin America 

Sabatini Building, Floor 4, and Nouvel Building, Floor 1 

Inside the context of Latin America in the period spanning the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, a time marked by colonial legacy and a succession of totalitarian regimes, artistic experimentations from the preceding decades would become radicalised and violently situated. There was a desire for critical positioning, to break from disciplines and search for other ways to relate to the world. Artists worked collectively and, with their bodies, occupied streets and created atmospheres and situations; thus, space was the focus of attention for many, and landscapes of underdevelopment became an image of resistance to Western modernity and its economic and political system, a defiance towards its models of consumerism, exploitation and conquest.

In addition to questioning the idea that the Latin American neo-avant-garde is peripheral in relation to its North American or European versions, this presentation takes issue with the perspective that assembles a heterogenous geography under the same blanket term. It focuses on a territory that has largely remained fragmented, beyond communities and networks of exchange and denouncement woven by artists, intellectuals and activists — flowing beyond Latin America to disgorge into other continents — or, on the contrary, beyond the alliances created between military governments from different countries. Equally, putting many of these artistic approaches into contact evinces the parallels, influences and affinities between practices and contexts separated by borders.