The University Art Gallery presents Roberto Jacoby’s “1968: el culo te abrocho;” crude translation: “the bum I clasp you,” a twist on a hackneyed children’s rhyme. His exhibition, spotlighting the internal political and cultural aspects of the 1960s revolution in Argentina, is a precursor of the branch of “new media” conceptual art from a decade later.
The show is divided into two sections by a plain wall. The first part is an expansive room, fairly lit and airy, covered with a compilation of what, upon first glance, seems like ordinary posters.
On closer examination, they are revealed to be noticeable statements splashed in pastel and neon shades against a background of newspaper clippings, pages of tattered books and candid, black-and-white pictures. A thick, white border surrounds each frame.
Certain lines of the articles and novels are marked and bracketed with ink. It seemed the pen fell heavily on the pages — the rough, thick marks evoke feelings of the artist’s possible anger or hurried excitement.
The majority of the phrases are in Spanish. Fortunately, a cheat-sheet pamphlet is provided, which gives an excellent interpretation of the foreign words.
One piece of artwork illustrates the melancholy line “la turba triste” (the sad mob), provoking sorrow and contemplation. Empathy arises for their troubles and futile attempts.
“Todo lo solido se esfuma” takes on a 70’s groove, the letters formed like the sluggish, mushy blobs of the glowing lava lamps.
The pieces that are in English presented the phrases, “There are holes in my telephone booth.” and “We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.”
While some of the points are straightforward and in-your-face, others are obscure and random, such as the earlier two examples, due to the vague content. Maybe we are not to take them literally. Though, there is the possibility they signified the confusion with the lack of knowledge at the time.
This exhibit also delivers the theme that it’s always not so much about the words. The impression and appearance are the significant elements. The bold colors emphasize and heighten their appeal which helps to transmit their messages across to the audience.
With a libertarian aspect, the artwork refers to the intellectual masses of the decade that yearned for a utopia. Artists during those days had their work maliciously censored from the public. False information in politics disgusted many due to the illusory façade that was incurred by the corrupt, tyrannical rule of Ongania.
Next, you move onto the audio-visual portion of the exhibit. Upon a blank screen, clips of “The Hour of the Furnaces,” an eerie portrayal of the reality in Argentinean politics from the 1930s to the 1960s, is shown. Created and directed by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gertuo, the documentary imparts a heavy and impersonal vibe.
Two smaller screens display the making of the controversial film and a commentary from the artist himself, Roberto Jacoby. He explains his stint as a lyricist during the 80s for the famous Argentine new wave band, Virus, as being the origin of influence for the words of his work. Furthermore, he recounts his and fellow artists’ arrests by the police when participating in the Premio Braque protests and the art community publicly wrecking their own works.
All the components of the presentation connect back to us for these concepts seem familiar — almost too familiar. We are a generation of continuous change, reformations happening in every corner of the world. We reflect and also strive for the perfect society. Juli Carson, curator of the UAG, challenges us to ask what the legacy might mean to us now.”
It was a successful exhibition; a small collection that was nonetheless impactful. Jacoby may be baffling at times, dizzying the audience with the avant-garde proclamations and experimentation. But his vibrant hues and underlying themes offer a well-executed product.
For free, you can engage in the passionate motivations of the 60’s generation, while being more open-minded and observing and appreciating the past.