Buenos Aires Herald. Published Sunday, April 14, 2002
By Alina Tortosa
For the Herald
In what can be ironically conceived as an ultra sophisticated anthropological intellectual detective story, Cristina Piffer (1953, Buenos Aires) traces through her work, based in in-depth historical popular and academic research, the origins of violence in the Argentine national character and identity.
How does one explain and come to terms with a society that has methodically violated individual and community rights? How does one relate rampant cruelty to publicly avowed formal values? What does one do not to lose one’s mind under autistic decadent governments? One denies it and looks elsewhere, one succumbs to depression, or one thinks about these matters as a means to clarify issues and to retain an acceptable degree of mental health. The knowledge of the violence exercised by the last military government that took over in 1976, which Piffer could not understand or face, and which she tried to put away, gnawed at her piece of mind until she had to give in to the need to find out how this basically sadistic trait related to national character. This was the beginning of a painful and solitary pilgrimage going back in time through Argentine literature and history to grasp the origin of the killings and torture that went on during those crucial years that go from 1976 to 1983.
This stoical quasi-religious journey took her into the entrails of our political and economic history. Once she had the data she had to find the means to represent it in a manner that suited her as an artist, that is to say, as a good contemporary artist, by processing the information and working the outcome into pieces that did not entail an obvious description of what she wanted to say. It is for us, her public, to try to play the sleuth to decode the very elegant artwork, if we must, or to enjoy it as original minimal sculptures of rare beauty.
In this last exhibition we may see long, white slabs, vaguely suggestive of marble, that Piffer has laboriously construed by melting animal fat and solidifying it, on which are indented the letters that describe what should never have happened. Other pieces, such as serie de trenzados, lonja and the exquisite small acrylic frames, also allude to the way enemies dealt with each other in the rural atmosphere of XIX century Argentina by inflicting rituals and practices that related to the rearing and the sacrificing of cattle. A show not to be missed.
(cristina piffer / entripados, Galería Luisa Pedrouzo, Arenales 834. Until May 11).
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