Art Histories Seminar
Mo 17 Jun 2019 | 17:00–19:00

Juan Acha’s ‘Non-Objectualism’: A Latin American, Decolonial Art Theory?

Katerina Valdivia Bruch (Independent curator and arts writer, PhD candidate at University of Reading/ Zurich University of the Arts)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Juan Acha addressing the audience at the First Latin American Conference on Non-Objectualist Art, Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, 1981. Photo: Lourdes Grobet.

Peruvian art critic and theorist Juan Acha (1916-1995), a graduated chemical engineer, started writing about art in 1958. From 1958–1971 he was an active figure in the arts field in Lima, and between 1972 until his death he lived and worked in Mexico City, where he would develop a theory of art for Latin America. He is known for coining the term “non-objectualism” to depict conceptualist art practices in Latin America, aside from the U.S.-European conceptual art canon. Juan Acha was a solitary figure in the art scene in Lima. While the majority of artists were following the indigenismo movement, he was a keen supporter of the emerging avant-garde art scene in Lima in the 1960s.

Besides this, he developed a social theory of art, in which he connected avantgarde with underdevelopment, but also demanded a renewal in the arts with the artists as main agents for this change.The talk will introduce some of the main thoughts by Juan Acha that contributed to develop his theory of non-objectualism. It will question whether his non-objectualist art theory could be considered a decolonial positioning towards the arts, or if it was a matter of recontextualising the international conceptual art trend in the Latin American avant-garde scene of that time.

Katerina Valdivia Bruch is a Berlin-based independent curator, writer and art critic. She holds a BA in Philosophy (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú), a Cultural Policies and Management Diploma (Universitat de Barcelona), and an MA in Museum Studies and Critical Theory (Independent Study Programme, MACBA/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Katerina has curated exhibitions and organised talks and lectures for a number of institutions, including ZKM-Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld), Grimmuseum (Berlin), CCCB (Barcelona), Instituto Cervantes (Berlin and Munich), Instituto Cultural de León (Mexico), Para/Site Art Space (Hong Kong), and the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts. In 2008, she was co-curator of the Prague Triennale at the National Gallery in Prague. Besides her work as a curator, she contributes essays and articles to art publications and magazines. Currently, she is a PhD candidate of the PhD in Practice in Curating, a practice-based doctoral programme of the Research Platform for Curatorial and Cross-disciplinary Cultural Studies at the University of Reading/Zurich University of the Arts.

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