The art world weeps the departure of Graciela Sacco

Yesterday, social networks were overflowed with farewell messages to the beloved and renowned Argentinean artist Graciela Sacco, whose work has transcended borders for years. She passed away on November 5th, aged 61, after an arduous battle against cancer.

The Argentinean artist worked with several techniques, such as photography, video and installation. She studied Fine Arts at the School of Fine Arts of the National University of Rosario. Later in her career she taught about the issues of 20th century Latin American art and preceded an experimental art workshop.

About her work

Controversial issues such as migration, exile, social conflicts, daily battles with political and social violence, together with the media and advertising, were the subjects that Graciela Sacco constantly addressed in her work. Basing her work on thorough theoretical and practical research, she took a particular interest in conceptual artistic movements and the diverse art production in her country. Therein lied her will to continuously link art to life.

Among her main influences the effect of advertising, its language ​​and mechanisms are worth mentioning, perhaps the reason why she tries to break the limits of public spaces, exposing her work to the world, making it visible so that everyone is able to appreciate it, analyze it, and question it. She wished for people to feel identified and question her work and life, in the framework of what she called Urban Interferences.

Check out Graciela Sacco’s interview by Marcos Kramer for the 64th edition of AAL’s magazine in 2014

Light and shadow being her raw materials, Graciela used diverse photographic techniques, as well as heliography (an early photography technique that used natural sunlight  to reproduce diffuse porous images, yet incredibly subtle). She reproduced monochrome images with this technique, created on the surface of several materials. For one specific project she selected press photos that depicted scenes of encounters with repression forces and printed them on a series of wooden boards, which were presented to the public supported vertically on a wall, so as to recompose the in a fragmented and dynamic way.

Media images were also a common element in her installations, where protests and cries were presented as universal archetypes, in such a way that the documentary quality of the images became symbolic actions, like optical experiments (due to light, time and space), that commemorated the suffering of her time.

The most noteworthy milestones of her career include her participation in the Venice Biennale in 2001, where she used photocopies as a tool to print two eyes on white paper, which were later glued in various locations of the city on walls, steps, etc. These eyes were passive, curious, indifferent, emphatic, and even unfriendly, but they still invite the viewer to conduct a search. She also participated in the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1996, at the Mercosur in 1997, in Havana in 1997 and 2000, in Mexico in 2000 and in Shanghai in 2004.  She took part in several international art fairs like Art Basel Miami and Arco Madrid.

Finally, her work was exhibited at the Bienalsur. Her pieces are still being showcased at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Salta (MAC). Moreover, in the context of the project ¿Quién fue?, she installed different large prints in several train stations in Latin America as part of the biennial’s program.

Nothing is where you think it is.

Posters with open mouths, awaiting a spoonful of food, emitting a silent cries, reminding us that they/we are there. They are similar to street ads, but this time they are placed on the facade of the Bank of the Republic of Bogotá’s Art Museum. Upon entering the museum, these mouths can be found again on top of spoons or as postcards, in different formats and situations.

The entire museum is transformed into a space for reflection of contemporary issues, such as migrations or the importance of the minimum vital space. This anthology of Graciela Sacco’s work (with pieces that date back to 1993), create an atmosphere in order for the viewer to become immersed in its content, filled with questions on urgent global issues.

Light, shadows, space, time and movement are used to capture the themes in her work. In them, she constructs, speaks and discusses. Analogue and digital photography; heliography, to transfer images into different surfaces. Reproduced and multiplied media images. These are examples of  the diverse urban interventions she carried out in schools and squares in Argentina, Brazil and Europe, covering the streets with prints featuring her characteristic open mouths. They are diverse manifestations intended to reclaim human rights. And above all, diverse struggles that are identical (and deeply rooted), relevant to every country in the world, such as hunger, repression, demonstrations, and peace.

Graciela Sacco: “Soy la primera espectadora de mi obra y también la primera en impactarme”… Entrevista realizada por Julio Sapollnik, Ed. 41 Revista AAL

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