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In the 1960s Di Tella Institute was home to Pop art all the way to those freaky sycadelic happenings. The Instituto Torcuato Di Tella,on Florida Road,900.Buenos Aires.
Culture, counter-culture, hippies and political youth, the Di Tella institute during the 60s.
Around the world, the 1960s express a time of liberation, self revolution, reinvention, freedom. Argentina was no stranger to those international trends.
It is a general thing that historians, sociologists, cultural writers and journalists address separately the cultural and political process of subversion that took place in our country during those years. If indeed the gap between Hippies and Guerrilla fighters is unquestionable, the matter of fact is that within that gap there are grounds in which we can trace a common starting point, that is, the reaction and repulsion to the state of matter of the time. Argentina was being governed by a military coupe. Social, economical and political crisis were unquestionable. However the possibilities from a brighter future, to the young generation as well as to the many political activists of all ages, were in their hands. They expressed the potentiality of a new form of society. To address properly the matter we should strip from disguise each of these movements, it’s not about long hair and drugs, nor it is about beard, moustache and red t-shirts. Art and politics, in the deep meaning of these two concepts, behold a much more interesting and rich nucleus than figurative descriptions about fashion, style and clothing in this matter.
The Di Tella Institute housed several of these movements. It was the epicenter to the Reason and Art in Revolt, the trampoline that a broad group of society saw to the construction of a better world.
Inaugurated on June, 1958, the Di Tella Institute and Torcuato Di Tella Foundation -an homage by Guido and Torcuato Jr. Di Tella to their father’s intense industrial activity- took full identity and structure throughout the 60s. The personal and proud motives that motivated the project however, were just one of the sides to the creation of the Institute and the Foundation. The fact is that these two institutions appear to us as a logical continuation and qualitative step within the evolution of a bursting intellectual and social scene in which Guido and Torcuato were beginning to play a main role in Buenos Aires, and these institutions will soon become focal points to any avant-garde aesthetic and cultural expose.
The Di Tella Institute lei motif was to promote, stimulate, collaborate and/or take part in all sort of educational, intellectual, artistic, social or philanthropic initiative, work and project, promoting all sort of research and top level studies in terms of scientific, cultural and artistic development in Argentina and Latin America as a whole. From Egyptology research and archeological recuperation of the Nubian ruins in Egypt to a Viceroyal Religious Art exhibition, the activities that took place or were carried on by the Insitute triggered Buenos Aires cultural and intellectual life in many ways. At the same time this “more traditional art and intellectual” statements were being exhibited and funded by the Institute, new, innovative and controversial artists found not only a perfect show room but also a shelter under which they could gather together and express their social point of view. This is how Leon Ferrari exhibited his anti- Vietnam war art (among the strongest images there’s a Christ being crucified atop a F-107 air force plane. Soon after Luigi Nono dedicated his concert to “one of the finest Argentines”, referring to Ernesto Che Guevara and the controversial Italian philosopher, Umberto Eco, gave a series of lectures on musical theory during 1970.
The institute was not only a shelter for avant-garde artists and social studies intellectuals, for it encouraged young, potential, outrageous and vivid individuals and groups to conquer their dreams and hopes.
A common slogan from those days summarizes the experience “With the Di Tella institute, the art became hip, trendy…alive, reaching the greater public, making a difference”.
The block that housed the Institute and a variety of cafes, stores and hang out places was soon to be christened as “Crazy apple”…
Among the most outrageous and avant-garde activities held at the Institute we can point out these as examples that can illustrate what we’ve been describing above.
In 1966 Marta Minujin shows "La Menesunda" an everyday life happening: going through a neon light tunnel the visitor, the passer by, was lead into a small room in which there were two naked people laying in bed.
Throughout the whole decade the Institute developed to be a sort of resistance institution to the censure perpetrated by the military government, hence there was a broad variety of graffiti art anti status quo.
Clorindo Testa –architect-, Gyula Kosice –sculpture- and Dalila Puzzovio were awarded prizes for their avant-garde view and works.
The first Comic book Biennial took place within the Institute’s facilities organized by the famous Oscar Masotta.
Antonio Berni, Raquel Forner, Julio Le Parc’s art works were exhibited with some of the highest ranks of visitors ever, nearly 160,000 people.
The list of outstanding artists that took part in this cultural venture are countless, this is the list of some of the most prominent names: • Antonio Berni, •Libero Badii, • Luis Fernando Benedit • Delia Cancela • Jorge de la Vega• Ernesto Deira• Romulo Maccio• Luis Felipe Noe• Gyula Kosice• Julio LeParc• Rogelio Polesello• Ruben Santantolin• Antonio Segui• Clorindo Testa
• Ari Brizzi• Carlos Silva• Alicia Perez Pe?alba• Lea Lublin• Roberto Aizenberg• Federico Manuel Peralta Ramos• Emilio Renart• Luis Alberto Wells• Dalila Puzzovio• Antonio Trotta
• David Lamelas• Juan Carlos Distefano• Marta Minujin• Susana Salgado• Alfredo Rodriguez Arias• Oscar Boni• Juan Stoppani• Edgardo Gimenez• Leon Ferrari• Mercedes Esteves• Carlos Squirru• Pablo Suarez• Oscar Palacio• Margarita Paksa• Ricardo Carreira• Pablo Mesejean• Ines Gross• Adolfo Bronowsky• Roberto Jacoby• Pablo Meniucci• Liliana Porter• Luis Camnitzer
• Osvaldo Romberg• Luis Pazos• Jorge Lujan Gutierrez• Alberto Greco• Fernando Von Reichembach• Graciela Martinez• Iris Scaccheri• Federico Klemm
But the experience of a counter culture in such aggressive and censure environment as the prevalent during Ongania’s presidency was doomed to end sooner than alter. There were indeed other factors other that the strictly political that played an important part to the Di Tella institute’s end. On one side, the economic factor played a crucial role, for the Institute was financed by the Di Tella Family company (Siam Di Tella), once the company took a bad economic turn, the financing became harder and harder to maintain. On the other, the constant attack perpetrated by the right wing politicians that labeled the institute’s activists was hippies, drug addicts and communists, or the suspicious left parties that exposed the institute as a CIA institution, lead this institution into discredit and disdain…
To us, these are just excuses for a deeper and harsher cause that we explicit above, that is the censorship and increasingly harder social repression that was beginning to take over the Argentine culture and society… In a matter of just 6 years Argentina was to go through the roughest and hardest historical episode ever, and the closure of the Di Tella institute was nothing but an indication that times were changing rapidly, and that there was no social space for counter cultures or subversion of any kind.
How did people look back then, see Photo Image Gallery of people from the 60s, there looks and styles.
people from the 1960s
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Bob Frassinetti. Copyright 2005. Roberto Dario Frassinetti.
Posted by bob frassinetti
at 12:24 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 8 June 2005 5:59 PM