Tucumán Arde [Tucumán Is Burning] is the best-known collective production of the emerging vanguard groups in Buenos Aires and Rosario, and it took place during the political and artistic radicalization of artists in 1968. Its design implied a complex process of investigation and counter-information, along with a massive media campaign. As an important part of the investigation, a group of about twenty artists (mostly Rosarians) traveled to Tucumán for a second time in October 1968. Once in the province, and supported by trade-union members, journalists, and other collaborators, the artists developed an underground account of the social situation of the sugar mills (closed by then), schools, hospitals, and so forth, seeking information that would prove the falsehood behind the official campaign regarding the so-called Operativo Tucumán. Multiple media, including tape recordings, photography, and film, were used. In order to prevent the obtained information from falling into the hands of law enforcement agents, the artists sent the results to the city of Rosario on a daily basis, where a group of collaborators would process them.
One of the objectives of the Tucumán Arde exhibition was to produce an “over-informational” event in the mass media, which was expected to result in large-scale public repercussions. The various references to and articles about the successive phases of Tucumán Arde in dailies, general-interest journals, and political publications, both national and international, demonstrate the success of this strategy in reaching the mass media.
The first Tucumán trip,in September 1968, by four artists (Rubén Naranjo and Juan Pablo Renzi, from Rosario, and Roberto Jacoby and Pablo Suarez, from Buenos Aires) had two purposes: to establish contact with labor, social, and student leaders, and to establish contact with cultural officials. In addition to launching their strategy through the mass media, this initial phase of the work was intended to set the scene for the arrival of a larger contingent of artists.