Connecting the Peripheries: Artistic strategies of Marcos Kurtycz and Joseph Beuys in the Americas. Performance Art in the 1970s and 1980s
Katarzyna Cytlak | Art historian
28 de março, 18h
NOVA FCSH, sala 1.11 (Edifício B1)
By applying the theoretical frame of transnational and decolonial approaches to art history, this presentation proposes the analysis of artistic strategies adopted by two European artists in the Americas. Referring to Hal Foster’s term “artist as an ethnographer”, marking a paradigm shift in the art of the seventies regarding cultural politics, and above all, the politics of alterity, this paper will focus on the case of a Polish/Mexican artist Marcos Kurtycz, who emigrated to Mexico in 1968. Originating from a bi-religious Jewish and Catholic Polish family, in his art, Kurtycz explored the Mexican and Polish, Catholic and Jewish cultural components of his identity. Moreover, the identification with the “other” culture – the Polish one in Mexico and the Mexican one in Poland – became his strategy to construct his artistic myth. Several quotations of customs and rites from the Polish folklore, customs, and popular Catholic ceremonies became his artistic strategy aimed at distinguishing himself on the Mexican scene. Joseph Beuys’s performance I Like America and America Likes Me (Coyote) that took place at René Block Gallery in New York in May 1974 serves to problematize the character of transatlantic cultural exchanges. This performance will be compared with Beuys’s collaborations with the Argentinian artist Nicolás García Uriburu in 1981 (Coloration of Rhine) and in 1982 (Thousand Oaks, initiated at the documenta 7, in Kassel). By presenting the analysis of Beuys’s performances from the Latin American perspectives, the analysis will show the limitations and dangers of an artistic dialogue proposed by the German artist. By bringing together those two case studies, this presentation aims to respond to some urgent questions: Could any transatlantic artistic dialogue with American artists be considered non-hierarchical? How does one deal with an artistic production that transcends national, regional, and cultural boundaries? And, finally, how the Latin American decolonial theory could be applied/could be not applied, not only in the contemporary debate in global art studies, but in practice – while constructing new narrations in art history.