Is it still important to talk critically about Surrealism today? This avant-garde episode of international art history has been revisited over and over again, from tributes and revivals to critical works and retrospective exhibitions. From a purist, restricted view, Surrealism is reduced to a datable European movement that ended in the mid-20th century. For others, the term is a tradable currency, a flexible category used to label anything that exceeds an “average” or realistic representation of things—a superfluous application that doesn’t consider the historical grounds on which the concept was developed. Between these two poles, there’s a vast area that demands a renewed approach. It is within that space that Objeto Móvil Recomendado a las Familias, an exhibition on Argentinian Surrealism at OSDE Espacio de Arte in Buenos Aires, occurs.
Curator Santiago Villanueva states in the first lines of the exhibition’s text that there was no specific outline or agenda for the Surrealism movement in Argentina. The most concerted attempt to establish a Surrealist group in the country took place in 1939 (fifteen years after Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto) with Grupo Orión, a collective of visual artists that couldn’t maintain a stable and unified aesthetic project for long. Their dissolution was imminent. Ambiguity, however, can nevertheless provide a fertile ground for possibilities, and that is precisely what Objeto Móvil Recomendado a las Familias tries to prove: When no one is looking at the margins and without strict limitations on parameters, loyalties, and particular interests, things can be built.
Surrealism never actually left the Argentinian art scene. It coexisted with many manifestations in different stages and moments—at times more visible, while at others, segregated by the indifference of institutions and the art market. Instead of following a chronological order or sticking to an aesthetic script, the artworks included in this exhibition follow a survival model (in the way that Georges Didi-Huberman conceives it), where images gain and lose force in a continuous and anachronistic fluctuation. Their arrangement by the exhibition’s designer and artist, Osías Yanov, asks spectators to take an active place in viewing the works. Yanov installs a series of dark metallic structures that can either frame or disrupt the visitors’ stare, depending on where they stand. With this specific display, what are we supposed to look at? Should we identify similarities and discontinuities? Do these structures gather the artworks into one big picture? The museographic resource challenges the exhibition’s spatiality.