24 Sep 10

Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg, The Campo del Cielo Meteorites – Vol. I: El Taco. A dOCUMENTA (13) artists’ book presented at Portikus, Frankfurt/Main on September 24, 2010, at 11 am

As a prelude to the exhibition in the summer of 2012, dOCUMENTA (13) will publish a comprehensive series of publications in the upcoming two years. The first installment is the artists’ book by Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg, produced on the occasion of their exhibition at Portikus by dOCUMENTA (13) and published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. This book marks the expansive nature of dOCUMENTA (13) in respect to its research processes and its collaborative nature. It also pushes the limits of time and space of its editorial production, not only through engaging with extraterrestrial material – meteorites – but also through this engagement with Portikus almost two years before the actual exhibition in Kassel in the summer of 2012.

Theodore Ruhoff, ein Techniker an der Smithsonian Institution, neben einer Reproduktion des El Taco, an der sich eine Markierung für die bevorstehende Zerlegung befindet, um 1965. Foto: Division of Meteorites, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History,Washington D.C.

With an introductory conversation between Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Daniel Birnbaum, texts by historian Hernán Pruden, scientists Jutta Zipfel & Timothy McCoy, as well as a dialog between Simon Starling and the artists. Published by dOCUMENTA (13) and Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany,
184 pp., c. 80. col. ill., 39,80 Euro

Two thousand years BC, northern Argentina was hit by a large meteorite shower, which originated from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Stemming from a distant world, 4.5 billion years old – much older than the surface where they landed – these meteorites embody a stunning time-space paradox. Well-known to the indigenous communities of Argentina for thousands of years, the Campo del Cielo meteorites were first discovered by Europeans during colonization in the 16th century. Renewed scientific interest arose in the crater field in the 1960s, followed by consecutive excavations throughout the subsequent decades, which made the Gran Chaco region into a local landmark of great, if discreet importance. One of these meteorites, El Taco, a 1,998 kilogram specimen, was discovered in 1962 by a farmer plowing his fields, and was later retrieved by a joint scientific expedition between the U.S.A. and Argentina.

In 2006, the artists Guillermo Faivovich (born 1977 in Buenos Aires) and Nicolás Goldberg (born 1978 in Paris) started to work on A Guide to Campo del Cielo, a project that revolves around researching the cultural impact of the Campo del Cielo meteorites by studying, reconstructing, and reinterpreting their visual, oral, and written history. During their research for A Guide to Campo del Cielo, Faivovich and Goldberg found one half of the El Taco resting in the garden of the planetarium in Buenos Aires. Investigating the whereabouts of the other half, they discovered it long forgotten in the storage facilities of the Smithsonian Institution near Washington D.C. The story behind it turns out to involve three countries Argentina, the U.S.A., and Germany – each with their different cultures and politics, approaches, technological standards and institutional dynamics.

The large iron masses of the meteorites have indeed been a source of endless mystery and wonder as well as an expression of the impulse for knowledge and power over nature and culture: the Spanish conquerors who reached Argentina in the 16th century went there for precious metals. During the course of history, some of these meteorites were removed and brought to Europe as treasures or objects of scientific studies, exhibited in natural history museums. Subject of a complex history, El Taco was sectioned at the Max-Planck-Institut in Mainz, Germany: one half of El Taco ended up in Argentina, while the other half remained in the U.S.A., leading to the very different conditions the two halves are in today: one with the traces of time and weather, one immaculate and polished. The 276 kilograms of filings from the cutting procedure remained in Germany, and are currently stored at the Naturmuseum Senckenberg Frankfurt/Main. Only recently, meteorites are partially protected by the Argentinean government as part of their heritage. “El Taco’s” fate and the idea of a reunion of the two halves is the subject of the book and of the exhibition.

Guillermo Faivovich & Nicolás Goldberg and A Guide to Campo del Cielo

Based on an understanding of art as a tool for the research and recording of knowledge, the artists’ approach to the history of the meteorites includes bibliographical inquiry, archival research, and oral history through interacting with people who have been involved in the region’s history and worldwide-reaching fieldwork. They have engaged in a series of actions, including: conceiving a postal stamp issued by the Correo Argentino in 2007, itemizing the specimens currently located in the Campo del Cielo region, as well as those found in the collections of institutions from Argentina and elsewhere, which led to the photography exhibition “A Portrait of La Sorpresa and the Meteorites that are no longer in Campo del Cielo,” donated to an exhibition space at the epicenter of the meteorite shower, and contributing bibliographical material and photographs of their authorship to the archives of various institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Natural History Museum in London.

“The first artists’ book produced by dOCUMENTA (13) with Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg,” states dOCUMENTA (13) artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, “brings together their long-term investigation on the history of El Taco. For over fifty years, documenta has challenged artists and spectators to reflect about the role of art in our time: with projects such as Walter De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), for which he drilled a 1000-meter-long solid brass rod of five centimeter diameter into the ground in front of the Fridericianum, or Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks (1982), for which the artist planned and began to plant 7000 trees, each coupled with a basalt stone in and around Kassel as well as in other places around the world, documenta also serves as a gravitational and paradigmatic cultural site for a poetic reflection on the relations between humans and their relations with materials and the environment.” Furthermore, states Christov-Bakargiev, “In the digital age, where we seem to exchange immaterial, weightless goods and knowledge in a dramatic web of disconnected connectedness, the two artists reflect on weight, materiality and embodiment; on stasis, duration, and magnetism as opposed to the speed, flow, and transience of life today.” – This book is the first stage of a project by the artists that will develop further during dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel in 2012.

Since 2006, Faivovich and Goldberg
have been working on A Guide to Campo del Cielo. Over the span of 4 years they have been granted by the Ministry of Science and Tecnology of Argentina, participated in artist programs by the Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas and the Fundación Telefónica in Buenos Aires and underwent an artist residency at Frankfurter Kunstverein. Faivovich and Goldberg live and work in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Guillermo Faivovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1977. Since 2000, his work has been featured in solo- and group shows at institutions and galleries of Argentina, including Alliançe Francaise de Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA), Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), and Galería Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires. In 2003/2005, he was granted the Kuitca Fellowship held by the Universidad de Buenos Aires. In 2008/2009, he attended to HSBK Städelschule, Frankfurt/Main. He has also developed video-art exhibitions since 2002, and co-curated “Di Tella Battlefield” and “Fantasmas,” two group shows of site-specific works at the Universidad Di Tella, Buenos Aires.

Nicolás Goldberg
was born in Paris in 1978, and reared between New York and Buenos Aires. In 2000, he underwent a two-year full-time program at the International Center of Photography in New York. In 2004, his monograph El Candidato, which explored the experience of politics as spectacle by spending three months with ex-president Carlos Menem, was featured at Madrid’s PhotoEspaña. Since then, his work has been part of solo- and group exhibitions in Argentina, U.S.A, Spain, Italy, and Japan. He was awarded a International Center of Photography/J&J Fellowship and his photographs are both in private and public collections, including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA), Buenos Aires and the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts.

  • Menu
  • Menu
  • Menu
  • Menu