Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Art of Writing and Writing as Political Art in León Ferrari

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2016), 93, (3), 303–326.

Abstract

The versatile and prolific artist León Ferrari (Argentina, 1920–2013) was associated with the neo-avant-garde of the 1960s, in which a group of artists blended ethics with aesthetics and fused experimentation with politics. This study is an analysis of Ferrari’s writings as visual and political art, not only for its message but also on account of their questioning epistemological concepts bearing upon the place of writing in our civilization. These writings fill a far-reaching register, and can be: 1) artificial and, thus, illegible; 2) legible, although not always decipherable; and 3) manipulations of various appropriated source texts that create an alternative writing.

El nombre del prolífero y versátil León Ferrari (Argentina, 1920–2013) se asocia con el movimiento neo-vanguardista de la década de los sesenta en Argentina, en que un grupo de artistas fundieron la ética con la estética conjugando la experimentación con la política. Este estudio es un análisis de sus escrituras, en tanto arte visual y político, no solo por su mensaje sino por cuestionar conceptos epistemológicos respecto al lugar de la escritura en nuestra civilización. Estas escrituras cubren un amplio registro, y pueden ser: 1) artificiales y por lo tanto, ilegibles; 2) legibles aunque no siempre descifrables; y 3) apropiadas de variadas fuentes que manipuladas crean una escritura alternativa.

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Buckland, Rosina, 2010. Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan (London: British Museum Press). Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan Google Scholar

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Harris, Roy, 1995. Signs of Writing (London: Routledge). Signs of Writing Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric, 1972. The Prison-House of Language (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). The Prison-House of Language Google Scholar

Jauss, Hans Robert, 1982. ‘Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître)’, in Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître) Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics Google Scholar

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Magritte, René, 1929. ‘Les Mots et les images’, La Révolution surrealiste, 12: 32. Les Mots et les images La Révolution surrealiste 12 32 Google Scholar

Mallarmé, Stéphane, 1951. Œuvres Complètes (Paris: Gallimard). Œuvres Complètes Google Scholar

Morley, Simon, 2003. Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson). Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art Google Scholar

Olea, Héctor, 2000. ‘El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari’, in Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968, 391–98. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968 391 98 Google Scholar

Pérez-Oramas, Luis, 2009. ‘León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets’, in León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets (New York: MOMA), 12–45. León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets 12 45 Google Scholar

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Ramírez, Mari Carmen, Marcelo Eduardo Pacheco and Andrea Giunta and Jack S. Blanton, 1999. Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo (Austen, TX: Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art and Buenos Aires: Fondo Nacional de las Artes). Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo Google Scholar

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Rancière. Jacques, 2007. The Future of the Image, trans. Gregory Elliott (London and New York: Verso). The Future of the Image Google Scholar

Réquichot, Bernard, 2002. Ecrits divers. Journal – lettres – textes épars – Faustus – poèmes, 1951–1961 (Toulouse, France: Presses du réel). Ecrits divers. Journal – lettres – textes Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul, 1977. The Rule of Metaphor (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press). The Rule of Metaphor Google Scholar

Ulmer, Gregory L., 1985. Applied Grammatology. Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press). Applied Grammatology. Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys Google Scholar

Wilson, Ian, 1999. ‘Conceptual Art’, in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press), p. 414. Conceptual Art Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology 414 Google Scholar

Yurkievich, Saúl, 1997. Suma crítica (México D.F.: FCE). Suma crítica Google Scholar

Zito Lema, Vicente, 1998. ‘León Ferrari: Aprovecho la libertad para expresar mis ideas’, La Maga, 339: 34–35. León Ferrari: Aprovecho la libertad para expresar mis ideas La Maga 339 34 35 Google Scholar

Alberti, Rafael y León Ferrari, 1964. Escrito en el aire (Milano: All’insegna del pesce d’oro). Escrito en el aire Google Scholar

Alfabeti della mente. Alphabets of the Mind, 2011, ed. Angela Madesani (Bologna: P420 galleria. Arte contemporanea e libri). Available at: http://www.comunicati.net/comunicati/arte/varie/ 183397.html [accessed 12 January 2016]. Google Scholar

Architecture of Madnesss – Arquitecturas de la locura. 2002, dir. Gabriela Salgado and Ricardo Pons. (University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art). Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland, 1973. Le Plaisir du texte (Paris: Editions du Seuil). Le Plaisir du texte Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland, 2002. Variaciones sobre la escritura (Barcelona and Buenos Aires: Paidós). Variaciones sobre la escritura Google Scholar

Bryson, Norman, 1981. Word and Image. French Painting of the Ancien Régime (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Word and Image. French Painting of the Ancien Régime Google Scholar

Buckland, Rosina, 2010. Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan (London: British Museum Press). Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan Google Scholar

Camnitzer, Luis, 2006. ‘Lettering, Latrines and Literati’, in León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Cosac Naify), pp. 384–86. Lettering, Latrines and Literati León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 384 86 Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1976. Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press). Of Grammatology Google Scholar

Drucker, Johanna, 1994. The Visible Word. Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press). The Visible Word. Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 Google Scholar

Dworkin, Craig, 2011. ‘The Fate of Echo’, in Against Expression. An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, ed. Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press). The Fate of Echo Against Expression. An Anthology of Conceptual Writing Google Scholar

Epplin, Craig, 2012. ‘Concrete Scrawls. The Wires and Words of Leon Ferrari’, Third Text, 26.6 (November): 713–28. Concrete Scrawls. The Wires and Words of Leon Ferrari Third Text 26.6 713 28 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 1999. ‘On Judgments and Excrement’, in Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo (Buenos Aires: Fondo Nacional de las Artes). On Judgments and Excrement Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2000. La bondadosa crueldad (Buenos Aires: Argonauta). La bondadosa crueldad Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2005.Prosa política (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI). Prosa política Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2006. León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo: Cosac Naify/ Imprensa Oficial). León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008a. ‘Contra el infierno’, in León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 (México DF: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes), 99. Contra el infierno León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 99 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008b. Entrevista con Adriana Malvido, in León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 (México DF: Inst. Nacional de Bellas Artes), pp. 46–52. Entrevista con Adriana Malvido León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 46 52 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008c [1988]. Imagens (Sao Paulo: Ed. Licopodio [Ediçoes Exu]). Imagens Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008d [1967]. Palabras ajenas (Buenos Aires: Ed. Licopodio). Palabras ajenas Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008e. León Ferrari: Todavía quedan muchos creyentes que convencer. Una charla con Fernando García (Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual). León Ferrari: Todavía quedan muchos creyentes que convencer. Una charla con Fernando García Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2006. ‘Chronology’, en León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Cosac Naify/ Imprensa Oficial), pp. 394–422. Chronology León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 394 422 Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2008a. El caso Ferrari (Buenos Aires: Ed. Licopodio). El caso Ferrari Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2008b. ‘Lines, Plans, and Sound-Drawing: León Ferrari, Sao Paulo, 1979–1986’, in León Ferrari Obras/Works 1976– 2008 (México DF: Inst. Nacional de Bellas Artes), 62–76. Lines, Plans, and Sound-Drawing: León Ferrari, Sao Paulo, 1979–1986 León Ferrari Obras/Works 1976– 62 76 Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2013. ‘Cronología’. [Online – León Ferrari website.] Available at: http://www.leonferrari.com.ar [accessed 30 August 2013]. Google Scholar

Harris, Roy, 1995. Signs of Writing (London: Routledge). Signs of Writing Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric, 1972. The Prison-House of Language (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). The Prison-House of Language Google Scholar

Jauss, Hans Robert, 1982. ‘Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître)’, in Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître) Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics Google Scholar

Lacan, Jacques, 1988. ‘The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious’, in Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader, ed. David Lodge (London: Longman House), 80–106. The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader 80 106 Google Scholar

Link, Daniel, 2012. ‘León Ferrari, la experiencia exterior’, in León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia. (Buenos Aires: MALBA), 11–26. León Ferrari, la experiencia exterior León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia 11 26 Google Scholar

Magritte, René, 1929. ‘Les Mots et les images’, La Révolution surrealiste, 12: 32. Les Mots et les images La Révolution surrealiste 12 32 Google Scholar

Mallarmé, Stéphane, 1951. Œuvres Complètes (Paris: Gallimard). Œuvres Complètes Google Scholar

Morley, Simon, 2003. Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson). Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art Google Scholar

Olea, Héctor, 2000. ‘El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari’, in Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968, 391–98. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968 391 98 Google Scholar

Pérez-Oramas, Luis, 2009. ‘León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets’, in León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets (New York: MOMA), 12–45. León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets 12 45 Google Scholar

Playboy Magazine, 1969. The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan, March. [Online – versión edited by Phillip Rogaway.] Available at: http://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/spring07/mcluhan.pdf [accessed 4 August 2013]. Google Scholar

Ramírez, Mari Carmen, 1999. ‘Tactics for Thriving on Adversity: Conceptualism in Latin America, 1960–1980’, in Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s (New York: The Queens Museum of Art), pp. 53–71. Tactics for Thriving on Adversity: Conceptualism in Latin America, 1960–1980 Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s 53 71 Google Scholar

Ramírez, Mari Carmen, Marcelo Eduardo Pacheco and Andrea Giunta and Jack S. Blanton, 1999. Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo (Austen, TX: Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art and Buenos Aires: Fondo Nacional de las Artes). Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo Google Scholar

Rancière. Jacques, 2004. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, trans. Gabriel Rockhill, Afterword by Slavoj Zizek (London: Continuum). The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible Google Scholar

Rancière. Jacques, 2007. The Future of the Image, trans. Gregory Elliott (London and New York: Verso). The Future of the Image Google Scholar

Réquichot, Bernard, 2002. Ecrits divers. Journal – lettres – textes épars – Faustus – poèmes, 1951–1961 (Toulouse, France: Presses du réel). Ecrits divers. Journal – lettres – textes Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul, 1977. The Rule of Metaphor (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press). The Rule of Metaphor Google Scholar

Ulmer, Gregory L., 1985. Applied Grammatology. Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press). Applied Grammatology. Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys Google Scholar

Wilson, Ian, 1999. ‘Conceptual Art’, in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press), p. 414. Conceptual Art Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology 414 Google Scholar

Yurkievich, Saúl, 1997. Suma crítica (México D.F.: FCE). Suma crítica Google Scholar

Zito Lema, Vicente, 1998. ‘León Ferrari: Aprovecho la libertad para expresar mis ideas’, La Maga, 339: 34–35. León Ferrari: Aprovecho la libertad para expresar mis ideas La Maga 339 34 35 Google Scholar

Alberti, Rafael y León Ferrari, 1964. Escrito en el aire (Milano: All’insegna del pesce d’oro). Escrito en el aire Google Scholar

Alfabeti della mente. Alphabets of the Mind, 2011, ed. Angela Madesani (Bologna: P420 galleria. Arte contemporanea e libri). Available at: http://www.comunicati.net/comunicati/arte/varie/ 183397.html [accessed 12 January 2016]. Google Scholar

Architecture of Madnesss – Arquitecturas de la locura. 2002, dir. Gabriela Salgado and Ricardo Pons. (University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art). Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland, 1973. Le Plaisir du texte (Paris: Editions du Seuil). Le Plaisir du texte Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland, 2002. Variaciones sobre la escritura (Barcelona and Buenos Aires: Paidós). Variaciones sobre la escritura Google Scholar

Bryson, Norman, 1981. Word and Image. French Painting of the Ancien Régime (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Word and Image. French Painting of the Ancien Régime Google Scholar

Buckland, Rosina, 2010. Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan (London: British Museum Press). Shunga: Erotic Art in Japan Google Scholar

Camnitzer, Luis, 2006. ‘Lettering, Latrines and Literati’, in León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Cosac Naify), pp. 384–86. Lettering, Latrines and Literati León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 384 86 Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques, 1976. Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press). Of Grammatology Google Scholar

Drucker, Johanna, 1994. The Visible Word. Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press). The Visible Word. Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 Google Scholar

Dworkin, Craig, 2011. ‘The Fate of Echo’, in Against Expression. An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, ed. Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press). The Fate of Echo Against Expression. An Anthology of Conceptual Writing Google Scholar

Epplin, Craig, 2012. ‘Concrete Scrawls. The Wires and Words of Leon Ferrari’, Third Text, 26.6 (November): 713–28. Concrete Scrawls. The Wires and Words of Leon Ferrari Third Text 26.6 713 28 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 1999. ‘On Judgments and Excrement’, in Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo (Buenos Aires: Fondo Nacional de las Artes). On Judgments and Excrement Cantos paralelos. La parodia plástica en el arte argentino contemporáneo Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2000. La bondadosa crueldad (Buenos Aires: Argonauta). La bondadosa crueldad Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2005.Prosa política (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI). Prosa política Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2006. León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo: Cosac Naify/ Imprensa Oficial). León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008a. ‘Contra el infierno’, in León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 (México DF: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes), 99. Contra el infierno León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 99 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008b. Entrevista con Adriana Malvido, in León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 (México DF: Inst. Nacional de Bellas Artes), pp. 46–52. Entrevista con Adriana Malvido León Ferrari. Obras/Works 1976–2008 46 52 Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008c [1988]. Imagens (Sao Paulo: Ed. Licopodio [Ediçoes Exu]). Imagens Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008d [1967]. Palabras ajenas (Buenos Aires: Ed. Licopodio). Palabras ajenas Google Scholar

Ferrari, León, 2008e. León Ferrari: Todavía quedan muchos creyentes que convencer. Una charla con Fernando García (Buenos Aires: Capital Intelectual). León Ferrari: Todavía quedan muchos creyentes que convencer. Una charla con Fernando García Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2006. ‘Chronology’, en León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006, ed. Andrea Giunta (Sao Paulo, Brazil: Cosac Naify/ Imprensa Oficial), pp. 394–422. Chronology León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954–2006 394 422 Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2008a. El caso Ferrari (Buenos Aires: Ed. Licopodio). El caso Ferrari Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2008b. ‘Lines, Plans, and Sound-Drawing: León Ferrari, Sao Paulo, 1979–1986’, in León Ferrari Obras/Works 1976– 2008 (México DF: Inst. Nacional de Bellas Artes), 62–76. Lines, Plans, and Sound-Drawing: León Ferrari, Sao Paulo, 1979–1986 León Ferrari Obras/Works 1976– 62 76 Google Scholar

Giunta, Andrea, 2013. ‘Cronología’. [Online – León Ferrari website.] Available at: http://www.leonferrari.com.ar [accessed 30 August 2013]. Google Scholar

Harris, Roy, 1995. Signs of Writing (London: Routledge). Signs of Writing Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric, 1972. The Prison-House of Language (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). The Prison-House of Language Google Scholar

Jauss, Hans Robert, 1982. ‘Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître)’, in Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Poiesis: The Productive Side of Aesthetic Experience (Construire et Connaître) Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics Google Scholar

Lacan, Jacques, 1988. ‘The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious’, in Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader, ed. David Lodge (London: Longman House), 80–106. The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader 80 106 Google Scholar

Link, Daniel, 2012. ‘León Ferrari, la experiencia exterior’, in León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia. (Buenos Aires: MALBA), 11–26. León Ferrari, la experiencia exterior León Ferrari. Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia 11 26 Google Scholar

Magritte, René, 1929. ‘Les Mots et les images’, La Révolution surrealiste, 12: 32. Les Mots et les images La Révolution surrealiste 12 32 Google Scholar

Mallarmé, Stéphane, 1951. Œuvres Complètes (Paris: Gallimard). Œuvres Complètes Google Scholar

Morley, Simon, 2003. Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson). Writing on the Wall. Word and Image in Modern Art Google Scholar

Olea, Héctor, 2000. ‘El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari’, in Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968, 391–98. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. El poetar dibujante de León Ferrari Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918–1968 391 98 Google Scholar

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Sarabia, Rosa