Juan Acha, peruvian art critic

In his approach to visuality and the interaction between art and the ideas of image and culture, Acha was among the first to understand the advent of visual studies as a way of understanding changes in perception and in artistic genres themselves. Juan Acha presented himself as a theorist of contemporary art and of the Latin American condition. He called for the immaterial, unsalable works proposed by cultural guerrillas. He sought to draw attention to the de-hierarchization of the arts, the strong spectator participation, and the transformation of third world societies, in response to which artists should replace self-concern with a freer practice, ready to participate in the feast of the art world and take part in what he called revolutionary progress. One of his key questions—how is an artistic product generated?—seemed to remove him from art history, which he perhaps mistakenly conceived as a formal exercise lacking the capacity to generate social and anthropological interpretations. In his diatribe against art history, he tested new classification systems, concluding that it is possible to dispense with the long list of “isms” and chronologies, and think in terms of four groups that define twentieth century avant-gardes and movements: abstraction, objective realism, non-objectualism, and conceptualism. All of these systems clash amongst each other and technology runs through them, causing the outside to enter art or, in other words, introducing distribution and consumption. So, what is this ideology that mediates between the material basis of society and artistic-visual changes? Acha’s answer suggests that it is the technocratic ideology that changes materials and transforms human sensibility. “Technocratic ideology does not concern Latin Americans,” he said, which is why ideological mediations are different in the case of Latin America. The underlying issue according to Acha is nationalism, “the crux that runs through all Latin American art” and has surprisingly, in the Peruvian’s critics view—led to its only major transformation: Mexican muralism. Nationality and national identification run through all of it, he argues. In the chapter on crafts, he describes Latin America as a place where high art coexists with design and popular art, principally with the rural arts or crafts that play a key role in the transformation of urban culture, decreasing its dependence on external models. In this sense Acha supports and shares Aníbal Quijano’s disquisition, which defends a Latin American urban popular culture influenced by local traditions as an alternative to a dependent urban culture immersed in external models. Crafts are one of the forms of art, and perhaps they can no longer position themselves as pre-capitalist production, given that they are increasingly integrated into capitalism. Acha spoke about this with García Canclini, Mirko Lauer and Ticio Escobar, who had reflected on the subject of crafts. He tried to increase the flexibility of conclusions, affirmations, and axioms regarding them and their integration as one of the fundamental pillars of the system of the arts in Latin American cultures. In the introduction to Las culturas estéticas de América Latina, Acha began with a general perspective on art. In simple and direct language, he said that Latin American scholars should focus on national realities instead of insistently looking to Western aesthetics, and that they should particularly avoid considering them universal. He notes that in order to know Latin American art it is necessary to strike a balance between aesthetic knowledge of different cultures and the need to navigate using comparative tools for exploring visual cultures. It is a monumental, impossible task, but an interesting and valid one. In Acha’s view, Latin American aesthetic culture was not just the sum of national aesthetics, but also the exchange of artistic projects, experiences, and knowledge in our countries. Aesthetic diversity was his theoretical pillar, and he certainly dismissed the notion of aesthetics as a purely Western body of thought. http://post.at.moma.org/content_items/749-juan-acha-a-latin-american-perspective-on-art Juan Acha plantea que a partir de 1920 se intensifica el nacionalismo y cambia de curso. Esta fecha, para los latinoamericanistas, es el despertar de un latinoamericano que se acepta diferente a los Occidentales y que quiere serlo de acuerdo con nuestra realidad colectiva. Para ese entonces, aparecen los indigenismos, los internacionalismos y las actitudes en busca de la superación dialéctica de los avances de los países desarrollados. Pero no basta con elegir la opción dialéctica, que supere el indigenismo y el internacionalismo, y buscar la identificación latinoamericanista como la mejor instancia de conocer y de transformar nuestra realidad si antes no resolvemos los problemas semánticos en torno a los términos identidad e identificación; latinoamericano y latinoamericanista. http://vereda.ula.ve/historia_arte/artelatinomode/juanprin.htm