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Dossier Call

The contributions in this dossier are responses to the following invitation:


The Museo del Barrio’s seminal exhibition on performance art in Latin America, “Arte≠Vida,” in part suggests that Latin American performance artists have been more certain than their North American counterparts that art is not life: when life is marked by hunger, scarcity, and torture, such confusions between art and life are disingenuous at best. At the same time the 40-year wealth of performance art documented by the exhibit assures that—like Lotty Rosenfeld’s clean perpendicular line in her signature piece Una milla de cruces sobre el pavimento (1979)—art literally and figuratively adds dimension and scale to “life,” at times even creating fissures within repressive regimes and their systems of power. In the dossier of this issue of e-misférica—which features a special relation to the exhibit “Arte≠Vida”—we pose a similar, if more pointed, provocation about the realms of art and politics in Latin American performance art. Nestor García Canclini has recently argued that art has entered a “post-autonomous” moment, one in which the transgression of the limits posed by museums, the market, and the conventions of art practice (e-misférica 7.1) are no longer necessarily constitutive of its political force. Where, then, do the politics in performance art reside today? In a recent interview, Guatemalan artist Regina Galindo argues that the work of Third World artists is not evaluated as it should be—with much more attention paid to the location and context of its production than to the formal elements through which it establishes its relation to the art field (e-misférica 6.2).  In what ways, if any, does the aesthetic order of contemporary performance art embody and illuminate a politics or counter-politics? Nelly Richard, in turn, insists on a distinction between “la política en el arte”—political issues or projects as reflected by or represented in art—and “lo politico en el arte”—a register of art itself that aims to engage and disarticulate the conceptual terms through which the political claims coherence to begin with (e-misférica 6.2). How does performance art enact, engage, disturb, dis/articulate registers of the political?

We invite dossier contributions from artists, scholars, and critics that take up this provocation in relation to performance art (action art, body art, non-objectual art) in the Americas today.  The provocation need not be answered/contested/debated in general, but could be engaged in reference to a particular performance, gesture, scenario or event. Responses are invited in the form of short analytic texts (750-1500 words), chronicles, manifestos, and other formats that go beyond the merely descriptive or anecdotal. Contributions may be in Spanish, English or Portuguese. We are also interested in visual presentations (photography, video, montage, etc.) that offer new perspectives on the subject.