Calle Tomada: The Street in Latin America, the second and final installment of this year’s MODA Series, was held on March 4, 2013. Part of an annual discussion series organized by graduate students in the Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies program, this event was developed by Cecelia Thornton-Alson, Carmen Ferreyra, and Carmen Falcioni. The evening-long symposium invited a small group of artists, scholars, and curators to discuss the intersection of the urban landscape, political activism, and cultural production in Latin America. The program comprised presentations from artist and scholar Luis Camnitzer, art historian and independent curator Isabela Villanueva, and scholar and independent curator Ana Paula Cohen, as well as a conversation between scholar Patricio del Real and Maurício Brandão, a founding member of São Paulo-based art and architecture collective BijaRi. Taking the street as a paramount site of engagement for socially based art practice in Latin America, the symposium investigated art’s role in galvanizing a “public” in the absence of a public space, in making visible socioeconomic and political precariousness, and in building informal political spaces. Below, we have posted video documentation of the presentations and discussion.
*Maurício Brandão is a founding member of BijaRi, a São Paulo-based art and architecture collective whose practice is poised at the intersection of urban life, public art, and spatial critique. He studied architecture and urbanism at the University of São Paulo and went on to earn a post-graduate degree from the Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona. BijaRi comprises five other members: Geandre Tomazone, Gustavo Godoy, João Rocha, Olavo Ekman, and Rodrigo Araújo. Formed in 1996, BijaRi employs a diverse range of media—including poster campaigns, cartographies, large-scale video projections, and urban interventions—to activate the friction between public and private, center and periphery, and legal and illegal in order to configure new poetic and political territories.
*Luis Camnitzer is a German-born Uruguayan artist who has lived in the United States since 1964. He studied sculpture and architecture at Escuela de Bellas Artes, Universidad de la República in Uruguay and is Professor Emeritus of Art at the State University of New York at Old Westbury. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships: for printmaking in 1961 and for visual arts in 1982. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career for his work as an artist as well as a scholar and a critic. Camnitzer has participated in exhibitions worldwide and his work is part of collections in over thirty museums, among them The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum, Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in São Paulo, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, and Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de Costa Rica. He is the author of New Art of Cuba, Arte y Enseñanza: La ética del poder, Didactics of Liberation: Conceptualist Art in Latin America, and On Art, Artists, Latin America and Other Utopias.
*Ana Paula Cohen is an independent curator, writer, and editor. She is currently a visiting professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and curator of Embodied Archeology of Architecture and Landscape, which opened in Tel Aviv this spring. Cohen was the general advisor and curator of the Museu da Pampulha Independent Program in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 2010/2011. In 2009/2010, she was Curator-in-Residence at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, where she organized the exhibition Living Under the Same Roof: The Marieluise Hessel Collection and the Center for Curatorial Studies. She was the co-curator of the 28th Bienal de São Paulo, in living contact, alongside Ivo Mesquita. In 2007, she co-curated the project Encuentro Internacional de Medellín 07, for which a new center for contemporary art, La Casa del Encuentro, was created. Within the framework of the Encuentro, Cohen organized an exhibition on Cildo Meireles’s work at the Museo de Antioquia. She has contributed to art publications such as Frieze, Art Nexus, Exit Express, and Mousse Magazine, and has written extensively on the work of Goldin & Senneby, Gabriel Sierra, Mabe Bethônico, Renata Lucas, Detanicolain, and Cildo Meireles.
*Patricio del Real holds a PhD in architectural history and theory from Columbia University and a Master of Architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He lived in Chile in the early 1990s, where he taught and practiced architecture. He has taught design-build architecture studios in the United States and has participated in the construction of informal structures in Havana, where he presented his research on contemporary Cuban vernacular practices at the International Biennial of Architecture. Del Real recently co-edited an anthology titled Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories and is currently a curatorial assistant at The Museum of Modern Art, where he is working on an upcoming Latin American architecture exhibition.
*Isabela Villanueva is an independent curator and art historian based in New York. She received her BA in Latin American literature from Universidad Católica Andres Bello in Venezuela and a diploma in French language and civilization from La Sorbonne in Paris. She holds a M.Litt in history and art connoisseurship from the University of Glasgow and a MA in Modern and Contemporary Art from the University of Cambridge. Villanueva was part of the curatorial team of the 30th Bienal de São Paulo, under the directorship of Luis Perez Oramas. From 2006 through 2011 she worked at the Americas Society, where she was the assistant curator of several exhibitions, including Ad Usum: To Be Used, An Exhibition of the Work of Pedro Reyes; Carlos Cruz-Diez: (In)formed by Color; Torrijos: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide; Dias and Riedweg…and it becomes something else; Marta Minujín: Minucodes; Arturo Herrera: Les Noces; and For Rent: Consuelo Castaneda.
This event was made possible by Columbia’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, with additional support from the Institute for the Study of Latin American Art (ISLAA), Columbia’s Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, and the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. We would like to thank Professor Kaira Cabañas, Deborah Cullen, and Professor Kellie Jones for their guidance and support in putting together this event; the staffs of the Visual Media Center and the Art History Department for their assistance; and guests Luis Camnitzer, Isabela Villanueva, Ana Paula Cohen, Maurício Brandão, and Patricio del Real for their engaging discussions.