From March to July of this year the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will be holding the exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980. The exhibition will provide an overview of the positions, debates and architectural creativity of the era.
This exhibition represents a brand new chapter in the history of Latin American art and architecture as presented through the museum. Since the MoMA’s first exhibition of Latin American art, Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art, in 1940, the museum’s treatment of Latin America’s artistic output has been closely tied to the international relations of specific time periods. During the Second World War, for example, the MoMA held seven exhibitions of Latin American art as part of a diplomatic effort to counter Nazi interest in Latin America. Similarly, the last major exhibition of Latin American architecture, Latin American Architecture Since 1945 held in 1955, took place in the context of US paranoia over the spread of communism in the early stages of the Cold War.
Not only do these exhibitions shed light on international relations, they are also important resources to facilitate an understanding of how the idea of Latin America is viewed from the USA. As Patricio del Real puts it, ‘I understand Latin American architecture as a historical concept deployed from the United States…’ The very nature of an exhibition that treats the continent’s architectural history as a unified whole provides important insight into wider attitudes about the place of Latin America in the USA’s collective consciousness.
This project will assess how the upcoming exhibition, Latin America in Construction, fits into this wider history of Latin American exhibitions at the MoMA and what this means for contemporary US-Latin American relations. This project will question why now is the time for the MoMA to return its gaze to the continent and why the era of 1955-1980 is of specific importance.
George Kafka's published report can also be found at:http://www dot uncubemagazine dot com/blog/15798317