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Los Angeles Celebrates Latin American And Latinx Art

The Getty Center launches a festival of Latin American art that also considers its influence on American culture and identity. In the age of Donald J. Trump, this has become doubly significant.

Crossroad in front of LA's Broad museum
Crossroad in front of LA's Broad museum
Mercedes Pérez Bergliaffa

LOS ANGELES — Finally, the international art scene is giving Latin American and Latino art (that is, art by Americans of Hispanic origin) the recognition it deserves. Last week Los Angeles and the Getty Center — one of the world's most influential art foundations — inaugurated Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, a colossal event that includes 70 (yes, 70) exhibitions of Latino and Latin American art, more than 500 performances over several months and 60 publications, all devoted to artists of our region and cultures.

The shows began on Sept. 12 in parts of Los Angeles and are to conclude next January. Argentina is present in shows including Photography in Argentina, 1850-2010, Works From Argentina and Brazil at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, and Radical Women in Latin American Art 1960-1985. Among the many Argentinian artists with works on display are León Ferrari (who died in 2013), Graciela Sacco, Liliana Porter and the photographer Annemarie Heinrich.

We are plural and diverse.

Argentine curators have also participated in this immense project, organized over four years and at a cost of more than $16 million, spent on research, production and curation. The event seeks new, inclusive ways of understanding the art and culture of our region, giving recognition to the influence of Latin Americans on some parts of the world.

The main questions surrounding all the exhibitions are, is there a clear definition of Latin American art today, and what and how are we as Latin Americans? These are difficult questions, likely without a single or simple answer. "We are plural and diverse, and these exhibitions explore just that about us," the Mexican artist Abraham Cruz Villegas commented as the events opened. He is a participant in Disney's Latin America and Latin America's Disney, at the Mack Center.

Pacific Standard's central concept is not to tell a limited history of Latin American art. There are so many stories, so many periods, places and styles happening at the same time. Its point of interest will be the visions and accounts emerging from the works and from projects undertaken with other entities, the director of the Getty Foundation, Deborah Marrow, said at the opening event. Pacific Standard will certainly change the level of attention Latin American and Latino art has received, and that, in the age of Donald Trump, is important to its artists. Several works on display muse about borders, territorial and body limits, and the conquests and limitations of rights and frontiers — particularly the one between the United States and Mexico.

There will be dissonance. There will be art.

The president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, James Cuno, said on Tuesday that art, and Los Angeles, were a force for building bridges before walls. It is one of the project's key premises, and its opening seemed to formalize two new words representative of gender inclusivity: "latinx" and "chicanx." These have increasingly come into use to highlight issues of sexism and gender divisions that cut across citizenship, identity and race.

Some of the exhibitions are veritably grand, and indicate the scope of the Getty's ambitions here. They include Golden Kingdoms, with more than 300 luxury objects dating from as far back as 1000 B.C. and the Metropolis in Latin America, surveying the modern growth of six continental cities: Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile.

The Getty Center promises that in this celebration, "there will be dissonance. There will be art." It could be the start of a cultural movement that merits close attention.

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