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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 (December 2017), Marcos Kurtycz: Corporeality Unbound/Marcos Kurtycz: Corporalidad al límite, Mexico City, Fauna.
  • Under contract (Rutgers University Press, 2018), Touched Bodies: The Performative 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

  • In Press (March 2018), “Beyond Evil: Politics, Ethics, and Religion in Leon Ferrari’s Illustrated Nunca Más”, Art Journal.
  • 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.
  • Under review, “Beyond Empiricism: Rolando García’s Theory of Complex Systems and the Epistemological Consequences of a Non-linear Universe”, in María del Pilar Blanco and Joanna Page (eds), Latin America at the Vanguard: Science and its Imaginaries, Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
  • Under review, Transparency, Occultation, and the Division of the Visible in Contemporary Mexican Public Art: The Case of the Pillar of Light in Mexico City.
  • 2017. “Wake in Guangzhou: Steps for an Ecological Aesthetics.” Afterall 44:65–74.
  • 2017. “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. “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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 2010. “La historia intelectual latinoamericana en la era del ‘giro lingüístico’”, Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos
  • 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. 
  • 2011. “De violencia, estética y otras fuentes de pánico”, Distintas Latitudes
  • 2010. “El cuervo devorado. Pensar la censura desde la microhistoria”, Distintas Latitudes
  • 2009. “Angustia en Nueva York. El expresionismo abstracto y su circunstancia”, Opción, 153, p. 23-30.
  • 2008. “Miedo y carmín”, Punto en línea, 12 

Curatorial Work

  • March 2018: “Reality Machines”, an exhibition on fake news and post-truths societies, CRASSH, Cambridge.
  • Jan 2017: “Financial Architectures”. Exhibition featuring the work of Mexican artist and architect Arturo Ortiz Struck, Chalton Gallery, London. 
  • Jan – May 2016:  Photography Exhibition: “365 por los 43 de Ayotzinapa”. CLAS, University of Cambridge.