The Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Features Exhibit “Video Art in Latin America”

September 29 2017

Since the 1970s, artists of Latin American countries have used video art as a form of expression and social commentary. The history of video art has different points of emergence, earlier in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico and later in Central America and the Caribbean. On September 17, the exhibit “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” opened at LAXART in Los Angeles, and features 68 works of video art by various artists spanning 40 years of history, including many videos which have never been seen in the United States.

As co-curator of the exhibit, University of Utah Art & Art History Associate Professor Elena Shtromberg has spent almost five years working on this project. Shtromberg has done extensive research on video art and in her first book, Art Systems: Brazil and the 1970s, which has a chapter dedicated to the emergence of video art in Brazil. This research inspired her to explore the history of video art in other countries throughout Latin America.

“I was particularly drawn to how video artists navigated censorship measures in authoritarian regimes during the 1970s and 80s and the relationship of video to other forms of mass media production,” she said.

Shtromberg began this project with Glenn Phillips, curator at the Getty Research Institute and her co-curator on this project, in 2012, and they took their first research trip to Mexico. Since then, they have visited over 12 cities and spoken to hundreds of artists, curators, critics and scholars, compiling an archive of materials they found and were given.

She says, “Artists who work with video in Latin America have demonstrated a social and political commitment that makes their work a unique reflection of the period they worked in.”

The exhibit encompasses the rich history and significance of this medium organized into six subjects: The Organic Line; Defiant Bodies; States of Crisis; Economies of Labor; Borders and Migrations; and Memory and Forgetting. While “Borders and Migrations” covers much of the current politics of the U.S./Mexico border, this section of the exhibit also explores the borders of the globalized world.

“Consider the border, for example, between Brazil and Guiana, one that is not often talked about but one that presents a unique set of circumstances given that Guiana is a French Territory.”

“Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” sets out to explore the intersections of Latin America with the Latino communities in California. Shtromberg has a vision to bring the exhibit to Latin America (and would love to bring it to Salt Lake), but could only do so with proper funding. “If we travel the show then we would need to raise funds to cover the honoraria of close to 70 artists, by far the most expensive item line in our budget.”

Shtromberg hopes that all who attend will experience a wide range of emotions surrounding the subject “including fear, understanding, empathy and discomfort, as well as laughter!” PST:LA/LA opened on September 17 and runs through December 16.

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