Methods of secrecy, camouflage, and underground occupation run throughout artistic practice, and remind us of the tensions at the center of creative expression. Often freedom of expression conflicts with prevailing ideologies, or the cultural climate demands more covert forms of production. Either way, strategies of invisibility point toward a pervasive thread throughout the recent legacy of art practice. In addition, we can appreciate how a relation between the visible and the invisible more generally operates as a core question or operation within art production. As Merleau-Ponty suggests, often the drive of art is to make visible what is often unseen, overlooked or under-appreciated.
Following such perspectives, Magic Block aims to explore these concerns, specifically highlighting artists working in Chile from over the last 30 years. The example of Chile offers a compelling view onto the power plays of appearance. The dictatorship of Pinochet, from 1973 to 1989, brought forward a difficult structure under which many artists struggled. In doing so, aspects of what is permissible lent to experimental approaches, and often the question of what can be shown, and how and what we in fact can see, provided a challenging backdrop to the arts. This led to performative, playful and conceptual approaches, inspiring artists to work in public space, to engage in public questions, and to explore the boundaries of the body, often by gauging the power plays of silence.
Examining these experiences, 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. Currently, these issues have led to an incessant revisit by artists on historical matters, or individual memories that still haven’t been fully recalled or recovered. Explored through a varied repertory of issues that span from the unperceived and the missing, the life of the secret and the hidden, or towards their fantasy presence, or the impossibility to grasp and tell, currents in contemporary Chilean art point toward new forms of agency.