Marking the Territory: Performance, video, and conceptual graphics in Chilean art, 1975-1985
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In this dissertation I examine the links between the body and the territory in Chilean Performance Art, video practices, and conceptual graphics between 1975 and 1985. During ten years in the midst of Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, the body and national space were two notions intimately tied to a range of new art forms in which different concepts of identity were negotiated. In the works of Carlos Leppe, Eugenio Dittborn, Carlos Altamirano, Lotty Rosenfeld, and Gonzalo Mezza the corporeal was understood as a space where the repressive political regime could be contested and the self's contradictory relation to the territory and nation be exposed. By analyzing these artists' works and revising the major theoretical and critical writings of the time, particularly those of Nelly Richard, Ronald Kay, and Justo Pastor Mellado, as well as their appropriation and reinterpretation of Poststructuralist and Psychoanalytic theories, this dissertation proposes that carnality and cardinality were joined in the experimental Chilean art of the seventies and early eighties as a form of contesting borders and identities. This work traces varied maps linking artistic and political vanguards while revising the relationships between nationalism and territory in Chilean art of the time by applying a methodology derived from the social history of art, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology. Different theories of space, nationalism, geography, and embodiment are explored to better understand the context and significance of conceptual art in Chile. As the dictatorship was demarcating its own borders regarding Chilean identity, artists were using conceptual languages to define the boundaries of a new national art and create models of social intervention that countered the images of prosperity, progress, and equality advocated by the regime. Using concepts derived from graphic arts and expanding them into everyday life in order to generate different social inscriptions, these artists attempted to demonstrate the instability of borders in the processes of identity construction.