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Insertions into Ideological Circuits

  • Meireles C
    With his Insertions into Ideological Circuits -- banknotes and soda pop bottles bearing non-authorized inscriptions, recycled back into their distribution systems, in the early 1970s-- Cildo Meireles was one artist who pioneered other worlds or "circuits" where art could be sustained and prosper, with a deliberately impaired coefficient of specific visibility. I see this recycling work as exemplary of repurposing art-sustaining environments rather than expanding the existent ones. To an extent comparable to Torres Garcia, Meireles has inspired a generation of practitioners in Latin America, anxious to restore art's use value, which they insert directly into spheres of activity often far from the northerly artworld. Buenos Aires-based artist and activist Hugo Vidal's ongoing "insertions" are exemplary of this usological turn, and are embedded in that art-historical lineage as well as the political context of democratizing Argentina's public sphere. Vidal has made it his task to ensure that Julio Lopez -- a desaparecido who survived the dictatorship and who was again "disappeared" after being called as a witness in 2005, despite an ostensible return to democracy -- does not disappear from public memory. Using the label of the popular LOPEZ brand of wine as a kind of free signifier, and supermarket shelves as a kind of frame, he stamps the words "Aparición con vida de Julio," and leaves the readymade label to complete and punctuate the demand. In a kind of literal way, he allows the subaltern to signify. This type of intervention, though discrete in one respect, operates very much on the 1:1 scale, and is strikes me as exemplary of the promises of social practice. - Stephen Wright