This article, by the Argentinean critic and academic Damián Bayón, is about the exhibition he organized with critics Jacques Leenhardt from France and Roberto Pontual from Brazil at the Maison de L’Amérique Latine (Paris). Frente a la máquina included works by many Latin American artists working in different styles, expressing their relationship with the idea of “the machine” if not always with the object itself. In his opinion, though their relationship with machines might be naïve, they use them in literal ways. He includes in that category the Venezuelan Kinetic artists Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez who, in many of their works, use “a machine” as a tool to move articulated parts. He also includes “the optical” Argentinean artists Julio Le Parc, Marta Boto, and Gregorio Vardánega. He discusses machines he calls second rate, “rebellious machines” that, according to Pontual, mock “machine-ism” while taking advantage of what machines have to offer. He also mentions the Peruvian artist Fabián Sánchez, who makes strange insects out of dismantled and reassembled sewing machines, and the Argentinean Jack Vanarsky, who uses Paul Bury’s slow mechanisms to create a form of still lifes. Under the umbrella of the influence—whether helpful or destructive—of the machine, he mentions the Chilean artist Roberto Matta and his scientific fictions, and the figurations of the Uruguayan José Gamarra, the most politically committed of all. He then introduces a category in which the machine is conspicuous by its absence, represented by the Brazilians Frans Krajberg and Arthur-Luiz Piza, plus of course the Argentinean Madí artists and the Chilean Marta Colvin.
Bayón provides some self-criticism of the organizers’ work: the selected artists were all over forty-five years old and there were none from Central America or Mexico, though he explains that the tendency to work with or against the machine happens mainly in South America. The article conveys a certain “anti–North American” bias, explaining that the artists were widely acknowledged in Europe (especially in France) because they were seen as being associated with the Cuban Revolution and the huge support it enjoyed in left wing intellectual media.