ISLAA

Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction

On Now:
Oct 28, 2023  → Feb 10, 2024
On Now:
10.28.23  → 02.10.24
ARTISTS
Alice Creischer
Andreas Siekmann
Monika Baer
Matthijs de Bruijne
Stephan Dillemuth
Juan Downey
Harun Farocki
León Ferrari
Pedro Figari
Sally Gutiérrez Dewar
Miguel Hilari
Claus Kempe
Zhibin Lin
Cildo Meireles
Melchor María Mercado
Dennis Oppenheim
Claudio Perna
Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala
Juan Carlos Romero
Konstanze Schmitt
Territorio Doméstico
Augusto Torres
Abraham Regino Vigo
CURATORS
Olivia Casa
Pujan Karambeigi

The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) is pleased to announce the inaugural ground-floor exhibition in ​our​ new headquarters​ at 142 Franklin Street. Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction examines the legacies of colonization through the intertwined histories of art, labor, and resource extraction in​ Latin America​. It brings together publications, films, and artworks, including works from ISLAA’s collection by artists Juan Downey, Pedro Figari, Cildo Meireles, and Claudio Perna, among others.

The exhibition explores how the colonial silver-mining industry in the city of Potosí, located in present-day Bolivia, was instrumental to the development of capitalism and Baroque art on both sides of the Atlantic. Modernity, it acknowledges, was only possible through the extraction of natural resources and the exploitation of labor in the Americas. This history set the stage for the present-day ecological disasters resulting from resource extraction.

At the center of this presentation is The Potosí Principle Archive, a series of thirty-six paperback booklets ​produced ​in 2018 that were first presented in 2021 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Installed on a large table and available for visitors to read, these booklets showcase research by artists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann and elaborate this historical foundation in relation to events of the recent past in interviews, essays, and poems by artists and scholars, including Roberto Choque Canqui, Silvia Federici, María Galindo, Elvira Espejo Ayca, Eduardo Molinari, and Edgar “Huracán” Ramírez.

This reading area is surrounded by artworks, facsimiles, and films that are connected by​​ threads that wind through the gallery and are united by Creischer and Siekmann’s ​​​​research into Baroque paintings of processions—a motif used throughout history to make otherwise abstract economic processes and social categories visible. Films by Harun Farocki, Sally Gutiérrez Dewar, and Miguel Hilari respond to Baroque paintings of the city of Potosí, while reproductions of images by Melchor María Mercado and Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala highlight Indigenous lives and perspectives in ​the South America​​​n colonies.

Other works examine distinct forms of economic exchange, exploitation, and labor around the globe. Works by Juan Downey, Cildo Meireles, Claudio Perna, and Juan Carlos Romero confront resource extraction, monetary value, and political oppression in twentieth-century Latin America. Meanwhile, Matthijs de Bruijne, Zhibin Lin, Dennis Oppenheim, Konstanze Schmitt, and Territorio Doméstico grapple with financial systems, neoliberalism, and contemporary labor conditions in Europe, Asia, and North America.

This presentation at ISLAA builds on the 2010 exhibition The Potosí Principle: How Can We Sing the Song of the Lord in an Alien Land?, curated by Alice Creischer, Andreas Siekmann, and Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, and organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. It was significant for both its experimental curatorial approach and its examination of colonial painting, which reframed modern history by placing the South American colonies at its center. Coinciding with the 2010 exhibition, the Reina Sofía published a separate counter-project titled Principio Potosí Reverso by ​​​Bolivian sociologist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui and El Colectivo, a self-organized group of cultural action and critique, which reflected on the history of Potosí from an anthropological perspective rooted in Andean cosmologies.​​​

​Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive is a project by ​artists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, curated by Olivia Casa and Pujan Karambeigi. It is accompanied by an original booklet connecting the exhibition’s research to the site of New York, designed by Ramon Tejada, ISLAA’s Graphic Designer in Residence.

The exhibition features work by Monika Baer, Matthijs de Bruijne, Alice Creischer, Stephan Dillemuth, Juan Downey, Harun Farocki, León Ferrari, Pedro Figari, Sally Gutiérrez Dewar, Miguel Hilari, Claus Kempe, Zhibin Lin, Cildo Meireles, Melchor María Mercado, Dennis Oppenheim, Claudio Perna, Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, Juan Carlos Romero, Konstanze Schmitt, Andreas Siekmann, Territorio Doméstico, Augusto Torres, and Abraham Regino Vigo.

EXHIBITION WORKS

Still from Harun Farocki, The Silver and the Cross, 2010. © Harun Farocki, 2010

Claudio Perna, República de Venezuela—Mapa ecológico (Republic of Venezuela—Ecological Map), 1975. © the artist. Photo: Arturo Sánchez

Still from Miguel Hilari, Bocamina, 2019. © the artist

Juan Carlos Romero, La unidad dialéctica de las violencias (The Dialectical Unity of Violence), 1972. © the artist. Photo: Arturo Sánchez

Dennis Oppenheim, Removal/Transplant—New York City Stock Exchange, 1969. © Dennis Oppenheim Estate

Cildo Meireles, Zero cruzeiro, 1974–78. © the artist. Photo: Arturo Sánchez

INSTALLATION VIEWS

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

Installation view of Revisiting The Potosí Principle Archive: Histories of Art and Extraction, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York, 2023. Photo: Olympia Shannon

ABOUT THE ARTIST(S)
Alice Creischer

Alice Creischer is an artist based in Berlin. She studied philosophy, German literature, and visual arts in Düsseldorf. As one of the key figures of German political art movements in the 1990s, she has contributed to numerous collective projects, publications, and exhibitions. Along with Andreas Siekmann, Creischer has been co-curator of exhibitions such as Messe 2ok (1995), ExArgentina (2001), and, with Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, The Potosí Principle (2010), through which she has developed a specific curatorial practice that correlates with her work as an artist and theorist.

Andreas Siekmann

Andreas Siekmann is an artist based in Berlin. Since 1987, he has taken part in many exhibitions as both an artist and curator. He has worked in close collaboration since the 1990s with artist Alice Creischer, with whom he co-curated Messe 2ok (1995), ExArgentina (2001), and, with Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, The Potosí Principle (2010). 

Monika Baer

Monika Baer (b. 1964) is a German artist based in Berlin and Los Angeles. Baer’s body of work employs a diversity of stylistic and material explorations that challenge existing models of painting. Her paintings depict surreal, indeterminate experiences and landscapes, and combine figures from everyday objects and biomorphic forms to create compositions that resist narrative coherence. In 2019 Baer was awarded the Hannah Höch Prize for lifetime achievement by the State of Berlin. Her work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; Greene Naftali, New York; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany; and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Matthijs de Bruijne

Matthijs de Bruijne (b. 1967) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Amsterdam, whose practice and research often arise in collaboration with trade unions and other labor organizations. De Bruijne persistently challenges the borders of the artistic field with process-based, multi-authored, artistic-political experiments. For more than fifteen years, he has negotiated his artistic practice in a variety of social contexts and engaged in long term collaborations with social movements, groups, and organizations outside of traditional art institutions. His work has been exhibited at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.

Stephan Dillemuth

Stephan Dillemuth (b. 1954) is a German artist who works across installation, video, performances, paintings, documents, and publications. His work investigates what it means to live as an artist within a capitalist society and imposed valuation structures. Dillemuth’s practice spans manifesto-writing, teaching, object-making, and painting. His work has been exhibited at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark; Galerie Nagel Draxler, Cologne; American Fine Art, New York; and Secession, Vienna, among others.

Juan Downey

Juan Downey (1940–1993) was a Chilean artist known for his pioneering video work as well as his drawing, digital media work, installation, painting, performance, and printmaking. His work is epistemologically open and transdisciplinary, demonstrating the richness of his experimentation with different technologies in the context of the information and technological revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Downey’s videos often critique the purported objectivity of ethnographic observation and documentation. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, among others.

Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki (1944–2014) was a German filmmaker, author, and lecturer who began making films in the late 1960s. His work addresses practices of labor and the production of images through a political lens that often confronts the persuasive properties of the cinematic medium. Farocki’s later works explore the concept of operative images—images created for military intelligence and surveillance as opposed to public consumption. In 2009 Tate Modern held the first major retrospective of Farocki’s films, and in 2011 the Museum of Modern Art hosted the first comprehensive US solo exhibition of his work.

León Ferrari

León Ferrari (1920–2013) was an Argentine conceptual artist. His artworks often attracted controversy due to its critiques of the Argentine government, the imperialist West, and the Church. His practice encompassed painting, collage, sculpture, poetry, and printmaking. Ferrari’s works are represented in several major collections, including those of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana; the Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zurich; and the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City.

Pedro Figari

Pedro Figari (1861–1938) was an early modernist painter from Uruguay and a multifaceted intellectual of the Generación del Novecientos. Figari was a prominent lawyer, writer, and politician until the age of sixty, when he started his artistic practice and began to devote himself completely to painting. His works depict folk dances, rituals, and celebrations; gaucho life; and Argentine pampas, as well as the Afro-Uruguayan communities of Montevideo.

Sally Gutiérrez Dewar

Sally Gutiérrez Dewar works with expanded formats in a hybrid field between contemporary art, visual essay, and non-fiction film. From a critical and feminist position, her artistic projects explore the ways of inhabiting and resisting in geographies where sentient beings and objects are also social actors in the networks and crises of globalization. Gutiérrez Dewar teaches art at the University of Salamanca and the European University of Madrid. She has been a member of several film festivals and art grant juries. Her art projects have been shown at international film festivals, galleries, museums, TV channels, NGO's, government agencies and universities. Her work is in the collections of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, and the CDAN Centro de Arte y Naturaleza.

Miguel Hilari

Miguel Hilari (b. 1985) is a filmmaker and artist of German and Aymara descent based in La Paz, Bolivia. His practice is concerned with memory, migration, and histories of colonialism and labor, especially related to Indigenous people of the Andean region of South America. His films have been exhibited at festivals, museums, and movie theaters worldwide, including the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany; Visions du Réel, Nyon, Switzerland; and Film at Lincoln Center, New York.

Cildo Meireles

Cildo Meireles (b. 1948) is a Brazilian conceptual artist known for his installations, many of which express resistance to political repression in Brazil. Meireles’s participatory work of the 1970s included subtle modifications of objects ranging from Coca-Cola bottles to paper money, with the aim of circulating critical public opinions in the midst of the strict censorship imposed by Brazil’s military dictatorship at the time. His more recent large-scale pieces encourage a phenomenological experience through the viewer’s interaction. Meireles’s work is in the collections of Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Melchor María Mercado

Melchor María Mercado (1816–1871) was a Bolivian artist from Sucre. During his long deportations as a political prisoner—which took him to faraway corners of the Bolivian territory— he createdÁlbumde paisajes, tipos humanos y costumbres de Bolivia (Album of Bolivian Landscapes, Human Types, and Customs, 1841–69). The album contains 116 watercolor illustrations in which Mercado depicts the customs of mid-nineteenth century Bolivians and scenes of their daily lives. They also depict rural and urban landscapes, work tools, plants, and animals. The album is preserved by the Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales de Bolivia and was published in 1991.

Dennis Oppenheim

Dennis Oppenheim (1938–2011) was an American conceptual artist who worked across performance, sculpture, photography, and earth art. Addressing experiential phenomena, nature, and societal structures, Oppenheim’s work sought to pose questions and break out of traditional modes of sculpture. Throughout his career, he expanded the definition of art—as idea, intervention, fleeting moment, or large monument—and pushed it beyond the realm of the gallery. He was pivotal in contributing to the foundational and defining moments of multiple art movements, incorporating varied materials, styles, and themes in his work.

Claudio Perna

Venezuelan artists Claudio Perna (Milan, Italy, 1938 – Holguín, Cuba, 1997) is a key figure of Latin American conceptual art and a pioneer of a form of transdiscipline that he called “Art=Life=Science.” He was one of the most relevant Venezuelan photographers and historians of his time, as well as the founder of the Audio-Visual Archive of the country. His artistic practice revolved around investigations of human geography and scientific methodology, his relation to psychiatry, local magical thinking, popular culture, and his interest in mass media.

Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala

Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (1534–1615) was a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling the ill treatment of Indigenous people in the Andes during colonial Spanish rule. One of his most notable works,El primernueva corónica y buen gobierno(The First New Chronicle and Good Government, ca. 1615) is considered the most accurate existing graphic depiction of Indigenous life in the colonial Viceroyalty of Peru. It consists of more than five hundred hand-drawn illustrations that blend with a written narrative, forming an integral part of the work.

Konstanze Schmitt

Konstanze Schmitt is a visual artist and theater director from Germany who works across performance and installation. Her documentary and biographical work often responds to political contexts and explores possible realizations of utopias. She has collaborated with actors, dancers, architects, organized domestic workers, experts in the field of human reproduction, and others. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues, including HAU 3, after the butcher, the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, and the Latvian Center for Contemporary Art.

Territorio Doméstico

Territorio Doméstico is a collective based in Madrid that consists of organized domestic workers, individuals, and activists, especially migrant women. The group advocates for the rights, dignity, and appreciation of domestic workers and the labor that they enact for others in a system that often devalues their work and makes it invisible and precarious.

Augusto Torres

Augusto Torres (1913–1992) was an Uruguayan artist and the eldest son of Spanish Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-García. Torres developed an artistic practice and style based in a visual structure that was guided by a system of ratios and proportions, as well as geometry, principles that he gleaned from the Cubism and Purism movements.

Abraham Regino Vigo

Abraham Regino Vigo (1893–1957) was one of the most prominent artists of Buenos Aires’s first avant-garde during the 1940s. Born in Montevideo, at the age of twelve Vigo started working with his father, a painter and decorator, in Buenos Aires. Like his father, he studied painting at the Sociedad Estímulo de Bellas Artes. During his lifetime, Vigo’s work was shown both in solo and group exhibitions, and he received several awards and prizes. His articulation between artistic practice and political militancy represented a modernist approach within his local art context. Vigo primarily employed graphic techniques such as woodcuts, etchings, and drawings, and were featured in magazines, newspapers, and books.

ABOUT THE CURATOR(S)
Olivia Casa

Olivia Casa is a curator and writer, whose work focuses on art of the Americas from 1960 to the present. She is currently Curator and Exhibition Program Manager at the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA). She has previously worked on and contributed to publications and exhibitions at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, the Jewish Museum, the Walther Collection, the New Museum, and ISLAA, among other institutions.

Pujan Karambeigi

Pujan Karambeigi is a PhD candidate at Columbia University, where he focuses on the relation between anticolonial struggles and genres of painting in the Global South between 1955 and 1979. His research has been supported by the DAAD, the German National Academic Foundation, the 2018–19 Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Curatorial Fellowship, and the Frieda B. and the 2022–23 Milton F. Rosenthal Art History Fellowship. He sits on the editorial advisory board of Jacobin and regularly publishes art criticism in magazines such as Art in America, ARTMargins, Texte zur Kunst, Artforum, and Mousse, among others.

The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) supports the study and visibility of Latin American art.
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Copyright © 2023 Institute for Studies on Latin American Art
The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) supports the study and visibility of Latin American art.

Tue–Sat: 12–6 PM Sun–Mon: Closed
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