Arqueologías de destruccíon / Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014

Arqueologías de destruccíon / Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College

Marcos Kurtycz, Artefacto Kurtycz, 1982. Courtesy of private collection. Photo: Adolfo Patiño, Facultad de Artes Plásticas U.V., Xalapa, Veracruz.
March 7, 2015
Arqueologías de destruccíon / Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014

March 20–May 1, 2015

Opening: Friday, March 20, 4:30–7:30pm

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
Haverford College

370 Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041

T +1 610 896 1287

In a 1976 interview with New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins, composer John Cage proclaimed, “I am going toward violence rather than tenderness, hell rather than heaven, ugly rather than beautiful, impure rather than pure—because by doing these things they become transformed, and we become transformed.”

Arqueologías de destruccíon/Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014 is an aphoristic engagement with such desire in artistic practice. While posited in the words of Argentine artist and destructive art proponent Kenneth Kemble as an “experiment, a tentative endeavor…imperfect and muddled, and above all, too heterogeneous,” the exhibition is nonetheless bound by specific chronologies and territories. 1958 marks the earliest work in the show, the date of an assemblage film that artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz made by hacking apart a Castle Films Newsreel. 2014 is not just the date of the most recent work, Eduardo Abaroa’s Notes on the Total Destruction of the National Museum of Anthropology, it also indicates how ideas engaged by artists working with destruction continue to resonate in in art, in the polity, and in our own physical frailty.

If this iterative chronology is the first framing for the exhibition, the second is linguistic. No exhibition has focused on how ideas of destruction in art functioned within a Latin American geographic, cultural, and political context. This absence is notable given the rise of political turmoil, technologies of violence, American interventionism, and militaristic regimes across the continent during this same period. In this context, a constellation of artists sought to neutralize the potential horror of such change by displacing destruction into the symbolic realm of art. As Luis Camnitzer observes in his 1998 essay “The Sixties,” the 1954 bombings in Guatemala politicized a generation years before “those that saw the light in the bombs that fell over Vietnam.” By focusing on artists with either familial roots or life experience in Latin America, this exhibition begins to address this critical gap. At the same time, such focus does not equate to an argument for either exceptionality or isolationism. Indeed, one of the sharpest congruencies between the otherwise distinct practices at play is an experience of exile. Personal histories of transplantation and movement—of finding oneself a stranger at home—shape strategies of destruction as much as responses to broader geopolitical tragedies and political shifts. Arqueologías de destruccíon/Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014 traces these evolving histories in sculptural, photographic, sound, and time-based works by six artists: Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Kenneth Kemble, Marta Minujín, Ana Mendieta, Marcos Kurtycz, and Eduardo Abaroa.

Curator: Jennifer Burris Staton

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication designed by Thumb with Camille Sacha Salvador, New York, featuring essays in English and Spanish by Justin Hoffmann, Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra, and curator Jennifer Burris Staton.

Public programs
Gallery talk with curator Jennifer Burris Staton and artist Eduardo Abaroa
Friday, March 20, 4:30–5:30pm


Arqueologías de destruccíon/Archaeologies of Destruction 1958–2014 is made possible with support from the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Mellon Creative Residencies Program.


About Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
An integral part of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is the principal venue for the Haverford College Exhibitions Program, which aims to extend cultural literacy through the display and analysis of work across visual and material media.

Envisioning exhibition spaces as active workshops for the exploration of visual culture, the exhibitions program partners with faculty, students, and visiting curators to design exhibitions that connect curricular interests and scholarship with contemporary artistic practice. In so doing, the exhibitions program encourages intellectual inquiry and artistic innovation in the Haverford community and greater Philadelphia region.

Press contact
Matthew Seamus Callinan, Associate Director, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions: [email protected]


Archaeologies of Destruction at Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College

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March 7, 2015

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