LEON FERRARI @ Recat, Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theater, Los Angeles, SEP 16 – DEC 17, 2017
SEP 16 – DEC 17, 2017
León Ferrari: The Words of Others: León Ferrari and Rhetoric in Times of War
Recat, Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theater, Los Angeles
September 16 – December 17, 2017

"The Words of Others: León Ferrari and Rhetoric in Times of War" is the most significant solo exhibition of work by Argentine artist León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 1920 – 2013) in the U.S. and features the first full performance of his seminal 1967 publication Palabras Ajenas (The Words of Others).

The exhibit, developed with the cooperation of the Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari; Arte y Acervo (FALFAA), focuses primarily on Ferrari’s influential practice from the 1960s to the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on Ferrari’s literary collages, most notably Palabras Ajenas, an important Vietnam era anti-war piece written in the form of a dramatic script. Ferrari created the work by cutting and assembling texts and quotations from various sources, including news agencies, history books, the Bible, and speeches by such political and religious figures as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert McNamara, Pope Paul VI and Adolph Hitler.

The September 16 durational performance in the theater at REDCAT is the first time the entire piece will be performed. Partial readings have been held at the Arts Lab in London (1968) and in Buenos Aires at the Larrañaga Theater (1972). A cast of 30 readers will create a "chorus" of contemporary voices to interpret the text, which represents an essential political piece of Ferrari’s body of work, and constitutes a tribute to him as an artist and a defender of culture, democracy, and civil rights. Ferrari's literary collages share the experimental impulse of figures such as Julio Cortázar and Bertolt Brecht in literature and theater, as well as the political unrest of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

The exhibition features several of Ferrari’s fundamental early works, including Carta a un general (Letter to a General) (1963), Dios (God) (1964) and El árbol embarazador (The impregnating tree) (1964), along with numerous later pieces, such as Juicio Final (Last Judgment) (1985), Relecturas de la Biblia (Re-readings of the Bible) (1984-1988), Congreso (Congress) (2002) and Hongo nuclear (negro), (Nuclear Fungus (Black)) (2007), which trace a history of war and political and religious aggression. In addition, an extensive repertoire of documents are included in the exhibition. This documentation reexamines historical interpretations of Ferrari’s artistic production, including entirely unknown and unpublished material about the two partial performances of The Words of Others in London and Buenos Aires.

Two new publications accompany the exhibition: a bilingual catalog of 300 pages and more than 120 images, published by JRP|Ringier, including new critical essays that analyze Ferrari's relationship with theatrical experimentation, photojournalism, religious iconography, and figures of power and authority of the 1960s and 1970s. Authors include: Pedro Asquini, Agustín Díez Fischer, Ruth Estévez, Cora Gamarnik, Andrea Giunta, Miguel A. López, Jose Antonio Sánchez and an interview with Leopoldo Maler. After rigorous research and translation, REDCAT and X Artists' Books have published the first complete English edition of The Words of Others.

Ferrari considered his literary collages to be a central element of his practice, yet many remained unpublished or had minimal circulation as limited editions or sketchbooks. The exhibit re-visits many of Ferrari's literary collages, research and analysis of his personal letters, and the sources that inspired his visual and textual creations, revealing the influence of experimentation through writing in all of his practice.
León Ferrari, The Words of Others: León Ferrari and Rhetoric in Times of War - ISBN 978-3-03764-508-6
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