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Curatorial Practices
Reciprocity: Interview with Federico Zukerfeld and Loreto Garín Guzmán
by Nancy Garín

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The exhibition “Reciprocity”was held at the Cultural Center of Spain in Buenos Aires, Argentina (CCEBA), from November 2009 to January 2010; it was coordinated by Federico Zukerfeld and Loreto Garí­n Guzmán. This collective exhibition sought to break generational, local and international barriers, both within and outside the contemporary art circuit, while also attempting to focus on one or several possible constellations in an effort to establish new views of the world and strategies, in a world whose structures have degraded. “Reciprocity”was made up of works and projects by: Zanny Begg (Australia), Oliver Ressler (Austria), Claire Fontaine (Paris), Democracy (Spain), and the Argentineans Leon Ferrari, Iconoclasistas, the Sub cooperative, Leo Ramos, Alejandra Fenochio and Diego Haboba.

A catalogue was published and available with a text by the Canadian theoretician and curator Stephen Wright, who sets forth a critical approach in line with the nature of this exhibition and lays the groundwork for a much-needed debate on the specific conditions of the today’s system of art: "Toward an extraterritorial reciprocity: beyond world-art and vernacular culture”. Talks and outreach activities were also held as associated events, in which Marcelo Expósito (Spain) and the independent publishing house )elasunto( were invited to take part.

- Where and how did the idea for Reciprocity come from?

At the beginning of 2009, we were invited to hold an exhibition at the Cultural Center of Spain in Buenos Aires by Laura Spivak, an artist and curator who was in charge of programming this institution’s art spaces. Instead of showing our own work, we chose to propose an exhibition housing the images, ideas and artwork of others with whom we shared bonds of affective, political and aesthetic reciprocity.

Our previous experience in the artistic coordination of a collective exhibition, was Normality (the final part of the “Ex-Argentina”project), held at the Palais de Glase in Buenos Aires in February 2006, for which we formed a team along with the artist Eduardo Molinari and drafted a text for the catalogue where we questioned the state of the social system and its repercussions in the field of art. In that context, the exhibition addressed the supposed return to normality post-2001, with the overcoming of the crisis of representation, the return to social order and the formal economy.

Our aim was to give continuity to the ideas that we expressed at that time, when we used the concept of Permanent Inclusion. “Symbolic inclusion as an illusion: the idea of belonging once again to some kind of project…” to describe how reintegration into the social and economic systems operated. The “recovery”of sectors that had been expelled or marginalized created new markets or revitalized the existing ones. In the field of culture, on the one hand the increasing tendency towards ONG-ization of any and all independent projects became evident, but now formed part of the area of “services”or desperately chased subsidies and funds from the administration in power or from foreign foundations. That normalization also took the form of an increase in the recycling of recent history, with an explosion of “chronic archivism”, whereby hundreds of new-old archives of social, political and artistic experiences came to light. In the end, the inevitable cataloguing of the practices, movements or experiences that had arisen as gestures or responses to situations of crisis, were incorporated and promoted as trends, turning their players/protagonists into potential consumers of their own experiences.

The aim of organizing this exhibition therefore arose from the continuity of that experience, when we had the opportunity of being able to organize and coordinate the exhibition, catalogue, cinema and video activist series, talks and workshops. We were also able to take part ideologically in the narration of that exhibition, on the basis of our hopes and points of view regarding the social process that began at the end of the 90s and increased sharply following the eruption of the economic crisis of 2001 until 2006, when it became possible to visualize the strong drive toward normalization that Argentine society experienced.


From that experience it became clear to us that holding this kind of project faced severe constraints both locally (and internationally too), because on the one hand we understood that funding is also extended to events with other characteristics and that due to the strong prejudice against what is known as “political art”, which is viewed with an aura of extreme prejudice, it is generally kept as far away as possible from institutions and their financial resources. Similarly, since many of the projects with such characteristics that are carried out in Latin America are financed by Western European countries or the United States, and generally overseen by foreign curators or cultural agents, it makes it even that much harder to coordinate efforts designed to cause an impact on the local circuit.

We therefore attempted to turn the tables by placing new pieces on the board in this game, by producing a mirror image of its tensions and contradictions, to see what would happen when both territorial and economic and curricular hierarchies are reverted. We called this project “Mirrors”. We conceived a time and space in which on looking inward and outward, it would be possible to see those excluded and those excluding with a greater spectrum: the idea was to achieve a reciprocity between images and the subjects involved, between the narration, the episodes narrated and the protagonists, as a cannibalistic paradox between consumers and those consumed.

The original title of “Mirrors”arose as a metaphor for the experiences of native peoples when the colonizers first arrived in the Americas, when fragments of false mirrors were exchanged for much-prized gold and other local goods. When we were invited to hold an exhibition at the CCEBA we thought it would be a good time to create the first link of this broader project, which we named “Reciprocity”.

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