The account of Charles Darwin's trip (1831-1838) to South America inspired Luis Fernando Benedit with the possibility of initiating a new cultural reflection on Argentina and its historic construction. Interested in science as one of the models for the framework of reality, the artist used the texts and images of the European naturalist to serve as the basis for a new series of his work, beginning in 1986. Texts, engravings of the period, as well as photographs were the raw material for a contemporary appropriation of the adventure taken around the world on board the Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy.
Benedit is not interested in a historical reconstruction but rather in a cultural problem: the formation of the different mentalities that construct the idea of a nation. He is also interested in participating in a scientific discourse to establish objective realitites and tabulate names that order nature itself. Indians, animals, plants, customs, and tools are all classified.
Within the series From the Voyage of the Beagle, stands out a body of charcoal sketches on canvas prepared in 1987, to which Tahiti Tia Oru belongs. When the artist executed these drawings not only did he choose subjects related to the Argentine region of Patagonia, but also images of other places visited by Darwin. Chile, Brazil, New Zealand and Tahiti are unfurled in works with similar modes.
This is a series of eight works six feet square where the intimate and domestic character, traditional in drawing, is transformed into a field of great display through size, alteration of the base and visual support. They are large canvases on which the drawing is fixed with the timelessness of an engraved or printed document or a black and white photograph, but with the modernity and artificiality of his own artistic medium. They comprise monumental landscapes not only in their size but also in the presentation of an immense surrounding space around the reduced dimensions of their inhabitants. Benedit aspires to attain the extremity of nature and to present a harmoniously constructed culture of a dimension alien to Europeans. Tahiti Tia Oru is a clear example of this conceptual strategy.
Tahiti Tia Oru reveals Benedit's urgency in utilizing different mediums of expression and in seeking the base appropriate for each narrative intention. He creates combining multiple unities of information in his continuing task of modernizing history as a field of constructing identities, not in an essentialist or metaphoric sense but rather in one of national responsibilities and reflections.
Buenos Aires, April 1997
Translated by Dr. Wayne H. Finke