Magic Block / Contemporary Art from Chile



curator: Soledad Garcia Saavedra & Brandon LaBelle

scope: invitation card with program
Stiftelsen 3, 14, Bergen / Norway

Relations between the visible and the invisible operate as an underlying question and theme within artistic production. As Merleau-Ponty suggests, often the drive of art is to make visible what is often unseen, overlooked or under-appreciated. Such fundamental views though find additional ex- pression in strategies of secrecy, camouflage, dematerialization and covert occupation, reminding of the tensions inherent to visibility. At times when the freedoms of expression central to artistic work come into conflict with prevailing ideologies, invisibility may become a question of survival. By the same token, in the case of Magic Block, we exhibit artists whose aim has been to stress erasures, suppressions or the impossibility of representation, through a play of phantasmic appearance.


Magic Block seeks to explore these relations, specifically highlighting artists working in Chile over the last 35 years.1 The example of Chile offers a compelling view onto the power plays of visibility and disappearance. The dictatorship of Pinochet, from 1973 to 1989, brought forward a dif- ficult structure under which many artists struggled. And even now, in recalling its current traces. In doing so, questions of what was permissible or not lent to experimental approaches, and often the issue of what can be shown, and how or what can be seen, provided a challenging backdrop to the arts. This led to performative, ephemeral and conceptual approaches, inspiring artists to work directly in public space, while also turning inward to the experiences of private life, to gauge the politics of silence and silencing.


Examining these methods and histories, the exhibition focuses on aspects of magic, the phantasmic and the imaginary, drawing these out through works that often search for ways around the weight of history and its forgetting. Currently, these issues have led to an incessant revisit by artists onto historical matters, often relating these to individual memories, or those still not fully recalled or recovered. Explored through a constellation of issues that span from the unperceived and the missing, the life of the secret and the hidden, or towards their fantasy presence, and the impossibil- ity to fully grasp or tell, currents in contemporary Chilean art may be appreciated as pointing toward new forms of poetic and political agency.