FERNANDA LAGUNA: A RADICAL LEGACY.
By Francisco Lemus
A lot has been written about Fernanda Laguna and her art. Both have been categorized as naive or as deploying an underhanded strategy, but there is no ruse in her relationship to art. What constitutes art is right there in plain sight: childhood, what happened and what we make up, objects, copies with no original, poorness, and affirmations. Fernanda is like the total artist, though she wriggles out of that category as well. She is at once an artists’ artist, an artist for connoisseurs, and an artist of the people. She is known in the art community and in the feminist community, but her influence exceeds them both; neither is her only home.
Small mythical figures of the art world in Buenos Aires, the artists of the nineties declared themselves aristocrats of their own taste. Those artists had nothing; they made a lot with very little. But their subjectivity was front and center. Grand themes valorized for their heroic and testimonial quality were displaced by a morality of minorities that had rarely been so central to the local art world up to that moment. Aesthetics and politics intersected in the exercise of difference; artists focused on the relationship with what was closest at hand. They were excited by materials, processes, an idea of beauty, and the daily experiences of friendship.
In a neoliberal context hostile to bodies, that was the most radical stance possible. Jorge Gumier Maier, curator of the Centro Cultural Rojas gallery, gave words and visibility to an attitude that has persisted in Argentine art. The specific sensibility that characterized the poor and utopia-less Buenos Aires of those years seems to have been absorbed by today’s young artists. Fernanda Laguna did a great deal with the Rojas gallery legacy: she expanded it, took it out of its comfort zone, combined its characters and premises.
By 1994, the gallery was somewhat staid; Gumier Maier had developed a kind of model based on what he had done during the gallery’s first five years. But Fernanda’s exhibition that year upped the stakes, taking the Rojas brand into shakier ground, almost back to square one. Access to Fernanda’s universe of fantasies is unlimited. She speaks a language well outside the hermeticism of contemporary art; she is somewhere else, somewhere less expensive where unnecessary expenditures are eschewed. Paradoxically, Fernanda’s irruption on the Buenos Aires scene was vital to contemporary art. Her shows occasioned love as well as repudiation.