Bridging past, present and future: media art from Latin America 

Triangle of Sacrifice / Guely Morató Loredo (BO), Photo: Sonandes

Artists honoured with the CIFO x Ars Electronica Award address environmental problems and present innovative projects.   

According to the UN report, 62 million tonnes of electronic waste were produced in 2022 alone. But in Rosario City, Argentina, discarded electronic devices are being turned into art. “Mutualidad de Fantasmática Electrónica” is the name of the project that was honoured as one of two winners of the Ars Electronica x CIFO Awards 2024, which has been awarded since 2022. CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation) and Ars Electronica have been working together since 2021 to bring Latin American artists closer to an international audience. The artists will be nominated via a closed call by the CIFO advisory board, which is made up of several internationally recognised art professionals, curators and artists, to submit concepts for productions. The nomination is valid for two consecutive years, during which an artist can apply and present up to three different projects per year. The selected projects can then be realised with the prize money and presented for the first time during the Ars Electronica Festival as part of the theme exhibition.   

In 2024, the festival’s motto is “HOPE – who will turn the tide” and the CIFO x Ars Electronica Award projects add a special Latin American perspective to this discourse. The artistic realisation and subject matter of the award-winning and presented art projects are completely different and thus demonstrate the versatility of Latin American media art. However, both point to important themes and problems associated with technological development, and thus also the possibility of improvement – hope.  The exhibition is the result of an intensive creative exchange between CIFO, Ars Electronica and the artists, who are thus accompanied in the artistic and technical realisation of the projects.  

In the spirit of a stimulating and inspiring dialogue, this exchange allowed us to build hopeful bridges by delving deeper into the themes of the projects.

Christl Baur, Head of Festival
Mutualidad de Fantasmática Electrónica / Federico Gloriani (AR), Credits: Federico Gloriani

With “Mutualidad de Fantasmática Electrónica”, a unique installation is created through the process of collecting and recycling: re-soldered parts of discarded electrical appliances become a projector that creates a phantom image of these very objects – from electric kettles to headphones. For this project, a group of local electronics artists are working with five different MediaLabs in Argentina to reintroduce components from discarded appliances into the art and technology community. The installation thus plays with different levels of time by linking the past of the technical devices with possible alternative visions of the future. Federico Gloriani, who was invited to submit the project with his community, is inspired by the Mutualidad Popular de Estudiantes y Artistas Plásticos. This community of artists from Rosario City translated the principles of the labour movement into art in the 1930s. A tradition of social and artistic commitment is thus transferred to the modern era of electronic art and sustainability and presents an answer to the question “Who will turn the tide”.   

Triangle of Sacrifice / Guely Morató Loredo (BO), Photo: Sonandes

The second award-winning work is called “Triangle of Sacrifice”.  In this work, curator, artist and researcher Guely Morató Loredo sheds light on the far-reaching effects of extensive lithium extraction in the so-called “lithium triangle” between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. This will be intensified by the impending energy transition and increasing electromobility. The name of the project refers to the term “sacrifice zone”, which is given to regions in which life is massively impaired by changes due to the overexploitation of resources. The work consists of a central sculpture surrounded by an immersive soundscape. Salt water drips onto the sculpture, causing it to erode over a long period of time. The frequency at which the water drips is determined by data from lithium extraction in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. The work thus illustrates the impact of lithium extraction on the environment in these regions.  “Triangle of Sacrifice” questions “neo-extractivism” in Latin America, i.e. the state-sponsored extraction of raw materials, as well as greenwashing. However, this project also focuses on working with the community, with Morató Loredo, as curator of the current research project Wak’a, uniting communities to actively tackle the challenges of extractivism together and drive forward future change.   

Following the premiere of the two projects at the Ars Electronica Festival, they will become part of the CIFO collection and will also be shown in an exhibition at the Museo Universitario de la Universidad de Antioquia (MUUA) from 26 October 2024 to 27 April 2025. The two art projects symbolise creative collaboration across borders and draw attention to grievances by combining art and technology, but also provide inspiration for shaping the future.   

You can find out more about the CIFO x Ars Electronica Awards here.

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