7º International Meeting of
Experimental, Sound & Visual Poetry
Edgardo Antonio Vigo: The prestige of the doubt
By María José Herrera (Argentina)
Edgardo Antonio Vigo was a rare, unconventional artist, and this is clear in his work and in the different projects he undertook. He lived in La Plata –a city that is further away from Buenos Aires than it might seem- a city with an intense life of its own that takes great pride in its cultural independence from the Capital of Buenos Aires. From and based in La Plata, this city was the setting that Vigo truly related to. At the beginning of his career, he actively participated in the institutional framework offered by this environment: salons (competitive shows) and prizes. But he was always a free spirit. Though he certainly could have formed part of different cooperative undertakings, it is hardly likely that he would have coincided with the perspective of the majority. That is what made him an artist. Aware of the difference between mass and communal, Vigo worked intensely to disseminate that different form of perception that comes along with the everyday implementation of creativity. He believed that creativity was gift that everyone had, but that not everyone practiced, and he committed himself to act as a medium for those who might comprehend this point of view. An endeavor on a very human scale.
Vigo saw art as the ability to shake up our own experience of the world. As a result, it was clear to him that the ideas and objects that emerged from this practice could not be the same as those destined to fill galleries and museums. Or at least not in a permanent form. His rejection of all things institutional is a rejection of the alienation that coverts the extraordinary into commonplace, or, inversely, the canonical into something distinct. The antidote to this constant search for the center to which institutions aspire is to reserve a prestigious position for doubt. That inexorable doubt that appears before every decision that we make and that is rapidly extinguished by what reason dictates should be.
His vitalist attitude left its mark in his work. Paradoxically, his disdain for noble materials was as heartfelt as the meticulous craftsmanship he applied to simple materials. Vigo was obsessed by the possibility that his works could be touched, and all throughout his career he proposed different options to encourage this. From arte manipulable (art that can be manipulated) to his Concrete compositions, to the “Hacia un arte tocable” (Towards a Touchable Art), manifesto from 1968/9, the artist’s work was impregnated with a set of rules that was diametrically opposed to the habitual treatment of objects found in museums, and he made participation the aim of the aesthetic experience.
In this manner, he professed:
“an art with errors that produces a distancing from exquisiteness. Taking full advantage of what an aesthetics of “amazement” has to offer, through “incidents” –the primary act of creation- in order to be turned into –in a popular form already- enveloping movements –or in individual form- a congruence of purpose-, in attitude. An expansive art, with catchy humor, that facilitates the spectator’s –active- participation, via absurdity. An art that signals in such a way that the everyday escapes from the sole possibility of being functional. No more contemplation, but activity. No more exhibition, but presentation. Where stable, fixed inert matter takes on the movement and change necessary in order to constantly modify the image. In short: contradictory art.”