Hot! Contemporary art from Chile

Mario Navarro

Mario Navarro

Elder brother of Ivan Navarro, Mario Navarro uses film, photography, actions and installation to re-appraise Latin America's recent past through oblique focus on half-buried incident and historic episodes.

A principal figure of interest for Navarro is Stanford Beer, a British cyberneticist who, in 1971 answered a request from President Allende to develop a futuristic information technology system designed to regulate the Chilean economy.

Although partially completed, the project was never fully implemented, and the so-called 'Opsroom' at its heart destroyed on Pinochet's seizing of power.

The unrealised promise of the Opsroom and its symbolic link to a fleeting new socialist state is the subject of various works by Navarro, including the video piece Los Sueños de Stafford Beer (The Dreams of Stafford Beer, 2007. left), and performative/installation works such as Two Rooms (below) created for the 2006 Liverpool Biennial (below).

Mario Navarro

Two more recent pieces, Barba del Diablo (Devil's Beard) and Dos Islas (Two Islands; both 2011) again address the failure of utopian ideals and social projects in South America through reference to a little-known event that took place in Argentina in the 1950s.

Ronald Richter (1909–1991), was a Nazi physicist who emigrated to Argentina after World War II.

In 1948, he convinced President Juan Perón that he was able to construct a nuclear power station that would supply the country with cheap energy.

The top-secret project was developed at huge expense on the small island of Huemul, located near the city of Bariloche in southern Argentina.

Nevertheless, having publicly announced the success of the experiments in 1951, the Argentine government was soon forced to concede that Richter had either forged his findings, or grossly underestimated their capacity.

Today, the delapidated remains of the research centre remain hidden in the island's jungle, a poignant reminder of a political fracaso and broken dream.



Malu Stewart

Malu Stewart, South American contemporary art

Malu Stewart's recent practice centres on a pictorial investigation of some of the best-known icons of art history.

Revisiting these works via a wide range of techniques, materials and formal strategies, Stewart explores the familiar in a quest for the new.

If, fundamentally, the enterprise seems uncomfortably akin to projects typically undertaken in school art classes, the results are sometimes surprisingly revealing.

An adaptation of one of Monet's feted 'Waterlilies' series is made entirely from twisted pipecleaners (left).

Oscillating between full-blown kitsch, trompe l'oeil spectacle and a faithful representation of the original, Stewart's work is art as entertainment, forcing us to consider just much how much - rightly or wrongly - Monet's overly exposed masterpieces also fall into such a category.

Malu Stewart, new art from Chile

How does the weight of pre-conception and expectation attached to celebrated paintings alter the way we view them?

In attempting to re-map the territories such works occupy, Malu Stewart goes some way towards answering this question.


next: Mónica Bengoa and Ignacio Gumucio

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