Starting in 2005, in Buenos Aires, as an initiative for the exchange of portfolios between artists from Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, the project was developed during its first ten years with the objective of cataloging Latin American art agents and spaces. Throughout this period, 17 residencies were held, which were conducted on a digital platform between 2010 and 2015, with approximately 2000 registered users, including artists, curators, researchers, art spaces, galleries, institutions, and artistic projects.
The Lastro website also published calls for submissions, events, discussion forums, and critical essays on contemporary art and culture in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Cuba. In addition to online mapping, the project also consisted of a library of nearly 900 titles, including catalogs and books on contemporary art, art history and sociology, published in South American countries and Cuba.
Study groups and workshops
After completing its first decade of operation, the platform also began to lead collective projects. The residences and exhibitions Lastro em Campo – percursos ancestrais e cotidianos (Lastro in the Field – ancestral and daily pathways, 2015/2016) and Travessias Ocultas – Lastro Bolivia (Hidden Crossings, 2017/2018) were conducted using self-management dynamics for fundraising, travel logistics, and conceptual lines of research.
Recently, one of the topics Lastro has devoted itself to is the study of anti-colonial processes in Latin America through study groups and workshops. The Grupo de Estudos Lastro (Lastro Study Group) is a collective for study and production in art, writing, and activism. The group has been meeting in São Paulo on a weekly basis since 2017, based on a common interest in deconstructing hegemonic narratives and employing as a work dynamic the production of works, political-aesthetic exercises, and publication of fanzines.
Discussions and developments are prompted by readings of authors from the global South, film reviews, web content, and everyday situations. Identifying itself as an intention to break the pattern, Lastro exists – and resists – as a strategy for the collective, using experience as a tool for dialogue. In short, a project that is free and autonomous in its connections.
Beatriz Lemos works as a curator and researcher specializing in networking. She is the creator of the research platform “Lastro – free exchanges in art”. Currently, she coordinates the autonomous programs, Lastro Al Janiah (series of initiatives at the Palestinian restaurant and cultural space in São Paulo), and the Lastro Study Group at the Casa do Povo (SP).
Translated from Portuguese by Zoë Perry.