Open lecture | Katarzyna Cytlak | 28 mar.

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.



Marcos Kurtycz, Mil de calaveras, 1987. Archives of Marcos Kurtycz, Mexico City. Courtesy of Ana María García Kobeh.


Katarzyna Cytlak
Katarzyna Cytlak is a Polish art historian based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, whose research focuses on Central European and Latin American artistic creations in the second half of the 20th century. She studies conceptual art, radical and utopian architecture, socially engaged art, and art theory in relation to post-socialist countries from transmodern and transnational perspectives. In 2012, she received a PhD from the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Cytlak was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina (2015-2017). She worked as a researcher and professor at the School of Humanities, at the University of San Martín, Argentina (2018). In 2018 and 2019, she participated in the CAA-Getty International Program. Selected publications include articles in Umění / Art, Eadem Utraque Europa, Third Text, and RIHA Journal. She is a grantee of the University Paris 4 Sorbonne, the Terra Foundation for American Art (Washington, New York, San Francisco) and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art de Paris.