Modernities featuring Runo Lagomarsino

2:56 | Published on July 2, 2014 | 154 Views

Pablo León de la Barra, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Latin America, discusses the importance of modernist ideals in Latin America, relating their failure to solve its social and economic problems. He describes how, over the past ten years, artists such as Runo Lagomarsino have addressed these issues in their work. Lagomarsino’s exhibition work ContraTiempos features images of cracks in the pavement of São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park that suggest the outline of the South American subcontinent—a metaphor, perhaps, for modernism’s flaws.

For more information, visit the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.

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Modernity, and the idea of progress, was something that was always very present in Latin America. And it seemed like the Americas, but specifically Latin America, was a place where these modernist ideals, utopian ideals, could be made possible—especially after World War II. And this had, of course, to do with a lot of European people educated under the Bauhaus, or after Bauhaus principles, arriving to different cities of Latin America and making possible the construction of many of these modernist houses and modernist projects.

As Argentinian cultural thinker, exiled in Mexico during the Argentinian dictatorship, Néstor García Canclini has stated, “We had a modernity without modernization.” So, of course, while modernity triumphed as a formal element, it didn’t solve many of the social issues, and social inequalities, and the continuous economic failures only made more evident this kind of disparity between a desired reality and the reality of what has happened.

Many artists in Latin America in the past decade have been re-visioning the ideas behind modernity and modernism, not because of nostalgia for the shapes and forms of modernism, but really kind of trying to understand what happened, or what went wrong.

Different works approach this from different angles. I think of Runo Lagomarsino’s work. He’s of Argentinian origin, born under exile in Sweden, and returned to the Americas only a few years ago—maybe six, seven years ago. He has always been thinking and rethinking the implications of colonial history, and of the implementation of a European thinking in the American continent.

Runo’s work in the exhibition is called ContraTiempos. And it features 27 slides that are projected within the exhibition room. The images from the slides are photographs that he took at Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, and are images of the cracks that were formed in the concrete pavement. He noticed them while walking under the Marquise of this park, which is a concrete roof that connects the different buildings of the park, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx.

So, while Runo was walking underneath the Marquise, he noticed that many of these cracks have the shape of the South American subcontinent. And these cracks, in a way, could serve as a metaphor for the failures of modernism.