Guatemala From 33,000 km:
Contemporary Art 1960 - Present
Organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960–Present traces multiple routes of artistic development in Guatemala during the last half-century through the current moment. Groundbreaking in nature, this project introduces practices and oeuvres that have, by and large, remained invisible, and brings light to an understudied territory vis-à-vis the artistic lens. Responding to a relative lack of information on the country’s cultural contributions and rich artistic production, the exhibition proposes nine overarching themes, clustered to provide a general framework from which to understand key moments in Guatemalan art history. The exhibition’s title is inspired by a tour-de-force painting by artist Efraín Recinos (1928–2011), alluding to distance (both geographical and psychological) and portraying his signature Guatemalita, an anthropomorphized map of the country, painted in 1960.
Guatemala from 33,000 km presents over 100 works of art from more than 75 artists, created from just after the start of the civil war in 1960 to the present day. The vast range of artwork in the exhibition–spanning diverse media, formal languages, and perspectives–demonstrates that even during the worst years of repression and war in their country, artists, both as individuals and collectives, continued to create visual expressions that not only mirrored but directly engaged the sociopolitical situations of their time, albeit often through muted languages and conceptually oriented presentations. The exhibition considers the onset of the civil war in 1960 as a starting point, identifying this period as a catalyst for the emergence of contemporary artistic practices that became critically engaged with the country’s cultural, political, and historical context.
Rather than a straightforward, chronological account of Guatemalan art history, the exhibition is choreographed as a constellation of overlapping references and dialogues between artworks, artists, and time periods taking place in Latin America, linking them to broader global art phenomena of this era. The clusters that serve as a guiding structure are: Art and Politics; Art Histories; Formal Experimentation; Gender Perspectives; Land, Landscape, and Territory; Popular Cultures; Racisms and Identities; Religion, Spirituality, and Metaphysics; and Violence and Trauma.
Guatemala from 33,000 km spans across three venues–MCASB, Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop, and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art–with each presenting a selection of work that references one or more of the clusters: MCASB hosts the majority of works around art, politics, and the resulting violence; Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art focuses on issues of
Guatemala from 33,000 km is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.