Antonieta Sosa

1940 | New York, United States

Venezuelan visual artist.

Born in New York to Venezuelan parents, Antonieta Sosa grew up mostly in Venezuela, and as a young woman took ballet lessons, audited art classes at the Escuela Técnica de Artes Visuales Cristóbal Rojas in Caracas, and studied psychology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In 1962 she enrolled at the University of California in Los Angeles, graduating from its visual arts department in 1966. She then returned to Venezuela, where she made her artistic debut in 1967. Her early works, such as the geometric objects in her exhibition Siete objetos blancos [Seven white objects, 1969], mapped her ongoing interest in the relationships between space, objects, and bodies, including the bodies of the artist and the audience as well as nonhuman bodies. In 1973 she cofounded with Hercilia López (born in 1947) the experimental dance group Contradanza, inspired by principles developed by the Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski. She has continued to integrate movement and performance into her artistic practice. Her actions and situations — Conversación con baño de agua tibia [Conversation with warm water bath, 1980] and ¿Y por qué no? [And why not?, 1981] — posit her as a pioneer of performance and conceptual art in Venezuela together with artists such as Pedro Terán (born in 1943), Alfred Wenemoser (born in 1954), Yeni y Nan (Jennifer Hackshaw, born in 1948, and María Luisa González, born in 1956) and Carlos Zerpa (born in 1950).

A. Sosa conceives of the body as an instrument for understanding space. In 1990 she invented her own measurement system based on her height: the anto (an abbreviated version of her first name), which equals exactly five feet, four inch. As she stated, her aim was to “remove [herself] from systems of [masculine] power.” Since 1978 a chair and subsequently other everyday objects, such as a table and a house, have been constant referents and tools in her work, mediating between the body and the world as well as the real and the abstract. In many of her projects these objects also reference important art historical precedents. Conversely, the artist looks for more spiritual phenomena, which she described as “uncategorised experiences and concepts for which certain rituals are necessary.” Since 1994 A. Sosa has taught at the Universidad Nacional Experimental de las Artes (previously known as the lnstituto Universitario de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armanda Reverón) in Caracas. She was awarded the Venezuelan Premio Nacional de Arles Plásticas in 2000 and an achievement award by the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in Miami, in 2014. Her work is included in the collections of, among many others, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Galería de Arte Nacional, Museo de Bellas Artes, and Fundación Noa Noa, Caracas.

Dorota Biczel

© Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985

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