The exhibition is part of a cycle of work in which the artist Voluspa Jarpa sought to understand the way in which foreign agencies and governments have operated outside the law, time and again, in Latin America and Europe. False Flag proposes a review of declassified US intelligence files on Latin American countries during the Cold War and a review of a series of documents revealing the existence of Secret Armies (Stay Behind) implemented by the CIA and NATO to prevent the advance of the left in post-war Europe, revealed under the name of Operation Gladio, during the 1990s in Italy.
The declassified CIA files in fourteen Latin American countries cover a period from 1948 to 1993. The documents -which relate to the recording of intelligence information on long-term political operations- are presented in a large installation that allows to appreciate their volume and main characteristics. Many of them are crossed out and censored and, because of these graphic marks, can no longer be considered merely as texts to be read but acquire the status of images to be observed. The installation plays in that diffuse space between text and image, history, lies, censorship and disinformation. On the other hand, from postwar Europe, a series of secret documents are presented that were leaked to the public in the mid-1990s, revealing the existence of secret armies that carried out low-intensity attacks with the aim of shocking the population and thus influencing the historical development of the continent. The history of Operation Gladio -the code name for one of these operations active in Italy from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s- is full of blind spots, ambiguities and violence without culprits, a history in which the Strategy of Tension was tested and perfected.
The exhibition also problematizes the contents of American Minimalist art, contrasting the austerity and formal asceticism of that movement with the historical violence in which the style developed and for which it failed to account. Indeed, at the same time as the great political operations were taking place in Latin America and Europe, North American artistic and academic institutions were promoting and disseminating Minimalist abstraction as their artistic avant-garde. The exhibition includes works that quote Donald Judd, which are materially intervened with intelligence documents.
In this series, Voluspa Jarpa asks: When and how can the course of the history of a collective be changed, how are these operations carried out, what happens when a leader is removed from his place of political representation and another illegitimately takes his place, in what directions is the collective history of Latin American and European societies manipulated?
The pieces are composed of archival, secret, public and judicial documents where the premise that “an intelligence operation is successful when it does not allow for the reconstruction of what happened” is made clear.
These works point to some of the interventions that occurred during the so-called Years of Lead, a time when foreign agencies developed complex tactics to control public opinion by using fear, false propaganda and double talk, provoking horror with false-flag terrorist attacks to achieve their geopolitical and corporate ends. The exhibited works present an aspect of the Cold War relating to the use of language, secrets and false discourse, which questions the possibility of thinking, assimilating and feeling part of a history that is fundamentally based on lies, developed from intelligence planning to the mass media, strategically manipulated so that, in the heat of the incidents, a first account of the shock serves to veil the truth and its complexity through public commotion.
Photos: Filippo M. Nicoletti
COLLECTIVE EXHIBITION "ISOLITUDINE"
BAM - BIENNALE ARCIPELAGO MEDITERRANEO
CURATED BY: BEATRICE MERZ
Serie Lo que ves es lo que es / Judd Vertical
(What you see is whai it is Series / Judd Vertical)
10 folded stainless-steel modules and 54 laser-cut acrylic plates
Serie Lo que ves es lo que es / Judd Cubos
(What you see is whai it is Series / Judd Cubes)
6 MDF cubes coated with stainless steel, engraved phrase, and 6 acrylic blocks containing 17 laser-cut documents
- 2016, 2019
Strips printed on backlight film
Todo se desvanece en la niebla
(Everything fades into the fog)
29 stainless steel folders with documents printed on paper
Yo no soy un hombre, soy un pueblo
(I am not a man, I am the people)
Marker, graphite pencil, and digital print on polyester paper
Printed paper, polished steel with silkscreen and laser-cut acrylic
Adhesive graphic on wall, graphite drawings on paper and bronze coats of arms
PHOTOS: Filippo M. Nicoletti