Exhibition at Amant Foundation, NY, USA (July 2-Sept.4 2022) https://www.amant.org/exhibitions/17-clara-ianni-education-by-night
The exhibition reflects on the political and economical relationship between the US and Latin America, from Cold War to the present, through the use of culture as a parapolitical instrument. Taking as starting point pedagogical films about Latin America that were made for schools in the United States between in the period, the exhibition connects past and present, addressing the ways that culture contributes to shaping ideas of progress and the future of Latin America. These learning films often used corporate footage to portray the region as a territory of endless resources, open to new ideas of progress and modernity. They boasted rhetoric emphasizing the inherent cultural commonality between the North and South of the Americas. They boasted rhetoric emphasizing the inherent cultural commonality between the North and South of the Americas. By promoting a sense of solidarity, these media supported the economic interests of the U.S., who essentially saw the region as a provider of cheap labor and raw materials as well as a valuable export market.
Revisiting them, and the context of its productions, the exhibition reflects on the myth of progress as a common horizon, and the way that culture served to shape such imagination, paving the road to imperialist, colonial, and extractivist practices.
With a newly commissioned video Night Geography, as well as a selection of archival texts, short movies, documents, and drawings, this capsule exhibition traces echoes of that period in the present in a non-linear manner. It lays bare how pedagogy and culture have often been instrumentalized as political and ideological tools for furthering asymmetrical relations of dependence. The exhibition comprised two rooms, the one in the picture above and a video room. The exhibition unfolds a long-term research initiated in 2017, with the video “From Figurativism to Abstractionism”.
[the exhibition is part of the long-term project “Brasil Brazil”]
The “Openings” is a film composed of all the opening animations from learning documentaries about Latin America, made by the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), during the Cold War. These films boasted a rhetoric emphasizing the inherent cultural commonality between the North and South of the Americas. While promoting a sense of solidarity, those films essentially portrayed the region as a provider of cheap labor and raw materials as well as a valuable export market. Often mixing conventions of pedagogic documentaries with amateur travelogues, these documentaries were produced with recycled footage from US corporations. The animations that introduce each of these films were designed by Walt Disney Studios, overlapping conventions of cultural industry, play, pedagogy, politics, and economy overlap.
Eyes and Ears South
paint on the wall
Mural made with the inverted graphic art from the article “Eyes and Ears South”, published in the pedagogic booklet “See and Hear”, in 1945, by the Office for Inter-American Affairs. The article speaks about the pedagogic films made by the OOIAA, introducing Latin American countries to US audiences, during the Cold War. This leaflet accompanied the audiovisual pedagogic material made by the Office. It instructed the teachers on how to use the audiovisual material and how to start discussions in the classroom using them as mediation. In the exhibition space, the graphic art from the magazine was turned into a mural – inverted. The inverted direction of the arrow and the upside-down sentence Eyes and Ears South play with the positionality of the one who sees, the one who hears, and the ones who are seen, and heard. It proposes a detour that also questions notions of centrality and margin, north and south. A copy of the article was displayed in the exhibition space too.
vinyl on the wall
List of all objects (nouns) mentioned in the “The Rockefeller Report on The Americas”, coordinated by Nelson Rockefeller to the US Government, in 1969. In that year, after Rockefeller’s invitation, more than 100 researchers and scholars traveled through Latin America to survey different aspects of the region. The report covers several issues in the Latin American context – economic, political, military, religious, cultural, and technological, at the moment when several civil-military dictatorships were established in the region, with the extensive support of the USA. By selecting all the nouns from the document, the project creates an assemblage of materials and objects that were being looked at and subjected to interest, vigilance, and scrutinization. By selecting the nouns, by creating this literary sculpture, the work also unveils, by the negative, the kind of interest invested in the act of observing and reporting. It also reflects on the idea of knowing and how to know.
The work consists of a vinyl text running on the exhibition walls. It consists of a long sentence listing all those objects mentioned in the report. The nouns appears translated in 3 languages: English (from the original document), Portuguese, and Spanish (both languages largely spoken in the continent).