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Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra

Junior Research Fellow, Queens’ College, Cambridge (2015-2018)

About my research

My research focuses on twentieth century Latin American art and visual culture, exploring synchronic developments in heterogeneous local contexts and questioning dated discussions about originality, influence, and autonomy. In my doctoral thesis I analyzed experimental artistic practices, including mail-art, cybernetics, performance, collage, and video art, by the Argentine enfant terrible León Ferrari, the indefatigable writer, activist, and performance artist Diamela Eltit, and the Polish-Mexican émigré Marcos Kurtycz. Their work poses fundamental questions about the interrelations between politics, ethics, and aesthetics in contemporary art and the need to rethink artistic praxis in the light of global flows of capital, changing technologies, and on-going reconfigurations of the political. A strong interest in aesthetic theory has led me to situate my work in dialogue with, among others, Jacques Rancière, Emmanuel Levinas, and Judith Butler. However, I also engage with less canonical thinkers in areas ranging from activism and networked communities to decoloniality. I have published on Benjamin and Brecht, the Latin American neo-avant-garde, video art, performance, relational aesthetics, and the role of religion and the sacred in contemporary art. I have also competed a book project on ‘sabotage,’ a notion etymologically associated with the production of noise.



  • Forthcoming (2017), Marcos Kurtycz: Corporeality Unbound/Marcos Kurtycz: Corporalidad al límite, Mexico City, Fauna.
  • Under review, Touched Bodies: The Performance Turn in Latin American Art.

Edited Collections   

  • 2016: Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America, NY-London: I.B. Tauris. (edited with Sophie Halart)

Refereed Articles and Book Chapters

  • Forthcoming (December 2017), “After Darkness: Sense-Expansion and the Aesthetics of New Media”, in   Erica Segre (ed), Mexico Noir: Rethinking the Dark in Contemporary Writing and Visual Culture, Oxford/Bern/New York: Peter Lang.
  • Forthcoming (May 2017), “Beyond Evil: Politics, Ethics, and Religion in Leon Ferrari’s Illustrated Nunca Más”, Art Journal.
  • Forthcoming (March 2013), “El resto es ruido: El Padre mío entre el sonido y la furia”, in Rubi Carreño (ed), La rueda mágica: Ensayos de música y literatura, Santiago: Cuarto Propio.
  • 2016: “Shaman, Thespian, Saboteur: Marcos Kurtycz and the Ritual Poetics of Institutional Profanation”, Sophie Halart and Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (eds), Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America, NY-London: I.B. Tauris, p. 1-10.
  • 2016: “Introduction” (with Sophie Halart), in Sophie Halart and Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (eds), Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Latin America, NY-London: I.B. Tauris, p. 35-57.
  • 2015: “Desnudez: Cuerpo político y exposición corporal en la obra de León Ferrari y Liliana Maresca”, Istor, 61, p. 25-68.
  • 2015: “Materia política: Marcos Kurtycz, León Ferrari y el retorno de lo (sur)real”, in Fabiola Martínez and Paula Barreiro (eds), Modernidad y vanguardia: rutas de intercambio entre España y Latinoamérica (1920-1970), Madrid: Museo Reina Sofía, p. 361-376.
  • 2014: “La cita bíblica: Iconoclasmo y sacralidad en la estética de ‘avanzada’”, Ensayos sobre artes visuales. Prácticas y discursos de los años 70 y 80 en Chile. Vol. III, Santiago: LOM, p. 133-176.
  • 2013: “Zona de Dolor: Body and Mysticism in Diamela Eltit’s Video-Performance Art”, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 21 (4), p. 517-533.
  • 2013: “Escrituras en el cielo: Una mirada a la poética (aérea) de la avanzada”, Istor, 54, p. 111-139.
  • 2012: “Matrixing (Soft)War: Parley, Network and Ritual in Marcos Kurtycz’s Letter-Bombing Actions”, Synchronicity: Contacts and Divergences in Latin American and U.S. Latino Art: 19th Century to the Present. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin.
  • 2012: “‘On ‘Shock’: The Artistic Imagination of Benjamin and Brecht”, Contemporary Aesthetics, [online], 
  • 2010: “La historia intelectual latinoamericana en la era del ‘giro lingüístico’”, Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos, [online], 
  • 2006: “El acercamiento mexicano-chileno en los días del vuelo del Cóndor”, Ágora, 3, p. 123-153.

Catalogue Essays, Opinion Articles and Art Criticism

  • 2016: “Move and Get Shot: la política post-humana de la imagen”, Campo de relámpagos.
  • 2015: “Kurtycz's Critical Dictionary”, Archaeologies of Destruction, 1958-2014, curated by Jennifer Burris Staton, Haveford, PA. 
  • 2015: “El rumor del oleaje/A Murmur of the Waves”, Brandon LaBelle and Soledad García (eds), Magic Block/Block Mágico: Contemporary Art from Chile, Berlin: Errant Bodies.
  • 2014: “An Art of Flight, an Art of Pursuit: Notes on Mail Art, Fugitiveness, and Bombs”, Post. Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art Around the Globe. MoMA. [online]
  • 2011: “De violencia, estética y otras fuentes de pánico”, Distintas Latitudes, [online]
  • 2010: “El cuervo devorado. Pensar la censura desde la microhistoria”, Distintas Latitudes, [online]
  • 2009: “Angustia en Nueva York. El expresionismo abstracto y su circunstancia”, Opción, 153, p. 23-30.
  • 2008: “Miedo y carmín”, Punto en línea, 12, [online

Book Reviews

  • 2012: “Hugo Vezzetti, Sobre la violencia revolucionaria. Memorias y olvidos, Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 2009”, Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos, [online]

Selected Conference Papers

  • “Agoraphobia No More. Preliminary Notes on the Possibility of the Public”, Reimagining Public Space in Mexico: Relationality, Collectivity, Community in Art and Beyond”, Trinity College, Cambridge, January 2017.
  • “Move and Get Sot: La vigilancia automatizada y la política post-humana de la imagen”, Tecnologías de la imaginació. Imagen vigilante/Imagen vigilada, Laboratorio de Arte Alameda, August 2016.
  • “The Blinded Webcam: Automated Surveillance and the Politics of the Super-Panopticon in Contemporary Mexico”, Science and Culture in Theory and History: Latin America, France, and The Anglophone World, Cambridge, July 2016.
  • “A Crow Devoured. Literary Journals and the Microhistory of Censorship in Argentina under Military Rule”, Re-Vistas and the Expanded Present: New Approaches to Latin American Periodical Culture, Trinity College, Cambridge, July 2016.
  • “Between the Folds: Eroticism and Poetics in Marcos Kurtycs’s Book-Works”, 34th International Congress, Latin American Studies Association, New York, May 2016.
  • “Huecos: Housing Developments in Mexico City’s Suburbs and the Forensic Traces of Finance-led Architecture”. Art/Money/Crisis, Cambridge, April 2016.
  • “¿Ciber-ética?: Cibernética, tecnocracia y la búsqueda de un gobierno no-humano en el México contemporáneo”. Ciencia, cultura y modernidad en América Latina, Buenos Aires, April 2016.
  • “Transparency, Occultation, and the Distribution of the Visible in Contemporary Mexican Public Art: The Case of the Pillar of Light in Mexico City”, The Strategies of Cultural Dissent, Resistance, and Autonomization in Closed Societies, Moscow, April 2016.
  • “The Pillar of Light in Mexico City and the Precariousness of Transparency”, 33rd International Congress, Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015.
  •  “The 1978 Wold Cup in Argentina, from within Its Political Prisons and Clandestine Detentions Centres” (with Ilan Lew, École Hautes Études Sciences Sociales, Paris). XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014.
  • “Sacred Dissensus: The Latin American Neo-Avant-Garde (Re)reads the Bible” (Session: Religion and the Avant-Garde). 102nd CAA Annual Conference, Chicago, February 2014.



  • 2016: “Encounters between Ethnography and Conceptualism in Latin American Art” MPhil in Latin American Studies, CLAS & Undergraduate course: “Modernism, Postmodernism and After”, Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge      
  • 2016 & 2017: “Religion and Politics in Post-Dictatorship Southern Cone”, with Patrick O’Hare, MPhil in Latin American Studies, CLAS, University of Cambridge
  • 2015 & 2016: “The Uses and Abuses of Theory in Cultural Studies” MPhil in Latin American Studies, CLAS, University of Cambridge
  • 2015 & 2016: “Vicente Huidobro and the Chilean Poetic Avant-Garde” Course: “Latin American Culture”, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Cambridge.
  • 2013 & 2015: “Video Art and Performance in Latin America” Undergraduate course: “Modernism, Postmodernism and After” Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge
  • 2014: “Biblical Rereadings in Contemporary Latin American Art and the Critique of Modernity”. Undergraduate module on “Latin American Art”, University of Chicago

Supervisor (TA)

2011-2016: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Cambridge

  • Course SP5: “Latin American Culture and History” Second year undergraduate course on nineteenth- and twentieth-century history and cultural production. Course: SP12: “Latin American Culture”
  • Final year undergraduate course on twentieth-century Latin American art and literature until the 1970s. Course: SP13: “Contemporary Latin American Culture”
  • Final year undergraduate course examining post-1970s Latin American visual culture, literature, memory and fil

2014-2015: Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge

  • Course: “The Display of Art: The Politics of Display”. Core course for final year undergraduates on the politics of artistic display since the late 19th century.

Theses supervisor                                            

2012-2017: I have supervised several final year and year abroad undergraduate dissertations on avant-garde aesthetics, the body, and post-dictatorship history and memory, science fiction, among other topics, in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.