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Mauricio Gatti

Venue: 11th Berlin Biennale c/o ExRotaprint

Was also part of: exp. 1

Mauricio Gatti

Born 1941 in Montevideo, UY – died 1991 in Montevideo

Mauricio Gatti was a young artist who was held prisoner in military barracks in Montevideo together with other Uruguayan anarchosyndicalists in 1971. From there, Gatti wrote and drew letters to his three-year-old daughter Paula, explaining their separation through a story about jungle animals who once lived and worked together but are now held against their will in a zoo.

Smuggled out of prison by Martha, his then wife and Paula’s mother, the letters were turned into a book. En la selva hay mucho por hacer [In the Jungle There Is Much to Do] was first published in Uruguay in 1971 by members of the anarchist commune Comunidad del Sur, where Gatti had previously worked as a ceramist and printmaker. Through its poem-like narrative, the story ultimately affirms that children are capable of understanding their own history, and that we all have agency when our freedom is threatened. In the jungle that Gatti describes, species live in abundance and collaborate for the greater good of society. These elements of Gatti’s work have been preserved and continually retold in shifting forms of collective resistance.

In the 1970s and 1980s, new editions and translations were made of the original book—largely by organizations supporting exiled communities of political refugees. In every case, the book was selfpublished by very small editorial houses or political organizations that recognized the importance of spreading the work as a necessary story, as a contemporary weapon of solidarity. Those who republished it, almost always without permission, did so in the spirit of understanding it as a story that cannot be owned but that must belong to everyone.

Amelia Bande

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