Teresa Burga: Profile of the Peruvian Woman (1980-1981)
January 16 – April 20, 2014
Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico
The institution's press release follows:
Teresa Burga (Iquitos, Peru, 1935) is one of the representatives of the renovation of Peruvian art during the sixties and seventies. As part of the Grupo Arte Nuevo (New Art Group) (1966-1968) and subsequently developing her individual practice, she was one of the precursors of the dissolution of the art object incorporating experimental processes and new creative strategies to produce a rigorous body of conceptual work.
The project undertaken by the artist for the SAPS is the materialization of a sculptural sketch that was part of the project Perfil de la mujer peruana (Profile of the Peruvian Woman), created in collaboration with Peruvian psychologist Marie-France Cathelat during 1980-1981. The project was originally presented in 1981 during the I Coloquio de Arte No-Objetual y Arte Urbano (1st Symposium of Non-Objectual and Urban Art) at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellín, Colombia; months later it was shown in an exhibition at the Banco Continental in Lima, Peru; by the end of that same year, the full investigation came together as a published book. The recovery of this project seeks to revisit a reflective process encouraged by an artistic proposal–one that analyzes the status of women from their affective, psychological, sexual, social, educational, cultural, linguistic, religious, professional, economic, political and legal aspects–that took part of second-wave feminism in Latin America.
The completion of the original project involved the collaboration of various specialists, government entities and corporations that supported not only the structuring of the survey and its results, but also with the required logistics. Thus it was possible to effectively convey the participation of a representative group that reflected the situation of Peruvian women at the end of the military dictatorship (1968-1980), and the beginning of the period of violence the country endured until the late nineties. In parallel with the sociological relevance of the results obtained and its consequent impact on the political level while inserting into the public sphere discussions on topics hitherto muted–mainly related to sexuality and in particular to abortion–the translation of statistical data into conceptual art language would place this interdisciplinary proposal against the grain of the bulk of Peruvian art, at the time still dominated by nationalism and late modernism.
Teresa Burga declared since that the artwork should focus its primary concern on information and its derivative processes, resulting in “open works” with non-permanent nor absolute intentions. The artist, best understood as a proponent, should aim to maintain a neutral position regarding the possible formal evolvement of the proposal–which she projected using diagrams, charts and schemes–and so, in many cases their physical execution resulted in the involvement of third parties. For the presentation of Perfil de la mujer peruana (Profile of the Peruvian Woman) in 1981, various collaborators were responsible for the formal outcomes of the surveys. Among them, the project included the production of a quipu that registered data from the professional profile; mannequins that confronted the standard female image versus average anthropometrical data of Peruvian women; as well as videos, audio recordings and slides.
The sketch for the sculpture now presented at the SAPS–a diagram of the female reproductive system that became the image of the project– was never made into an object because at the time, the artist couldn’t find a way to produce the piece. Hence the inscription on the sketch: Proyecto no realizable. Escala 1/x (Non Realizable Project. Scale 1/x), through which Teresa left the possibility of producing it in ambiguous terms.
Thus, in the context of a series of research projects aimed towards the recovery of Latin American historical figures, we retrieve Teresa’s non-object-based approaches, paradoxically producing an object. This allows us to revisit and update an artistic practice anchored to the historic and social context from which it emerged while reassessing the strategies of use and display of information in contemporary art.
- Tatiana Cuevas