El Vaquero

“Accountability undermines creativity. Anonymity breeds genius.”
-El Vaquero

El Vaquero
Born in Cordoba, Argentina, ?
Lives and works ?

El Vaquero is the alias of a controversial provocateur/artist loosely affiliated with the Visceral Realists. According to accounts pieced together from various sources, El Vaquero’s father was a rancher in La Pampa, who herded sheep and cattle. Originally an academically-trained studio watercolorist specializing in landscapes, his art practice became radically different in the early 1990’s, when he was thrown from a vehicle in a horrific car accident in the centre-west of La Pampa. El Vaquero spent three days stranded in a ditch filled with patches of thorny cacti before being found by hikers. El Vaquero reportedly stated that it was there, at the brink of dehydration and starvation, that he learned about the true meaning of art. “From that point, I abandoned the rote construction of illusion for the vacuous sake of beautiful simulacrum,” he wrote in a 1998 essay. Instead, he turned to brutal and violent actions and interventions which often bordered on the illegal.

In his most recent work, he infuriated critics and museum administrators when they became unwittingly accomplices to El Vaquero’s infamous abduction and display of a local curator during the artist’s 2000 exhibition at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. In anonymous letters written to critics before each show, El Vaquero regularly cites Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben as a major influence, especially his ideas on the state of “bare life,” or that state of being separate from any political or social reality. He works under an alias, not because the illegal nature of his work requires it, but because “accountability undermines creativity,” a phrase he scandalously and surreptitiously spray-painted on large Guillermo Kuitca canvases at Ruth Benzacar Gallery in 1995. While El Vaquero has indicated in his writings an abiding affection for the Visceral Realists, in 2001, he began targeting members of the group with customized versions of his violent “Uprising” actions, taking the strategies of the Institutional Rupture to their logical, unsettling conclusion: the rupture of Visceral Realism itself. He has chronicled this series of “Uprisings” on his website. Since 2001, the members of the group disavow any formal affiliation with El Vaquero, and vigorously dispute his claim that any genuine Visceral Realist must ultimately seek the violent end of Visceral Realism.


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