AboutThis is the first major UK presentation of the works of Grupo de Artistas de Vangardia (Argentina) and Loompanics Unlimited by Bik Van der Pol (Netherlands). Although visually very different, the ideas, approach and debates explored through their works are remarkably similar, encouraging the viewer to consider such ideas as power, economic disparity, the State and the social role of art.
Grupo de Artistas de Vangardia, formed in the 1960s, created some of the most important examples of political and investigative art in Latin America. This exhibition, co-produced with Graciela Carnevale, a member and participant in the group's projects, brings together an archive of photographs, manifestos, reports and documentation of their activities.
An early work by the group, Experimental Art Cycle (Rosario,1968), was a series of individual exhibitions that challenged the conventional role of the gallery, placing art within a wider context. On the opening night of Carnevale's exhibition, she locked guests in the exhibition space. They only escaped when a passing member of the public smashed the gallery's glass window.
Later, they developed Tucumán Arde (1968), a project and exhibition exposing hardship in the Tucumán region caused by the then Argentine government's repressive economic programme. The exhibition became the central alternative outlet of counter government information and, after being displayed for two weeks in Rosario, it was shown in Buenos Aires, where the police closed it down on the opening day. Due to government censorship many of the artists ceased practising their art for many years, some for good.
Bik Van der Pol (Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol) have been working together since 1995. They explore the potential of art to produce and transmit knowledge, and often reuse and reactivate the work of others to find new connections and points of interaction.
A publishing and bookselling company, Loompanics Unlimited (1975-2006) specialised in unusual and controversial books, manuals that âyour mother and the state would rather you didn't read'. Presenting a selection of 140 books from Loompanics Unlimited, from Money-Making Opportunities, Fake I.D.'s, to How to Start Your Own Country, Bik van der Pol cause us to explore our own limitations in relation to freedom of speech, censorship and private responsibility. A selection of books are available for visitors to read during the exhibition.
Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia's Tucumán Arde Archive has been exhibited at Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel 2007; Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires 2006; Witte de With, Netherlands, 2005 and Museum Ludwig, Cologne 2004. Craciela Carnevale (1942, Argentina), has exhibited at Documenta 12, Kassel, 2007; Centro Cultural de Espania, Argentina, 2003; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wifredo Lam, Cuba, 2001; C.C.B. Rivadavia, Argentina, 1999.
Bik Van der Pol live and work in Rotterdam. Recent exhibitions include PLUG-IN 28, Pay Attention, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2008; For Reasons Of State, ISP Whitney, New York, 2008; Moscow Biennale, Mosow, 2007; Fly Me To The Moon, New Riijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2006.