Portrait of Antonieta Sosa

Born in 1940 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 de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas in Caracas, and studied psychology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In 1962 she enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating from its visual arts department in 1966. She then returned to Venezuela, where she made her artistic debut in 1967.

Sosa's early works, such as the geometric objects in her exhibition Siete objetos blancos (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 the experimental dance group Contradanza, inspired by principles developed by the Polish theater 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, 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 (b. 1943), Alfred Wenemoser (b. 1954), Yeni y Nan (Jennifer Hackshaw, b. 1948, and María Luisa González, b. 1956), and Carlos Zerpa (b. 1950).

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 inches. 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 Sosa's projects these objects also reference important art historical precedents. Conversely, the artist looks for more spiritual phenomena, which she described as "uncategorized experiences and concepts for which certain rituals are necessary."#

Since 1994 Sosa has taught at the Universidad Nacional Experimental de las Artes (previously known as the Instituto Universitario de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armando Reverón) in Caracas. She was awarded the Venezuelan Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas in 2000 and an achievement award by the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, in 2014. Her work is included in the collections of, among many others, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; CIFO; and Galería de Arte Nacional, Museo de Bellas Artes, and Fundación Noa Noa, Caracas.

—Dorota Bizcel

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1969 Siete objetos blancos, Ateneo de Caracas

1978 Sillas y mariposas, Galería La Trinchera, Caracas

1980 Conversación con baño de agua tibia, Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas

1985 Del cuerpo al vacío, Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas

1998 Cas(A)nto, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas

Selected Bibliography

Bouzaglo, Nathalie. "Immaterial Discomforts: Antonieta Sosa, from the Body to the Void." Text and Performance Quarterly 35, nos. 2–3 (2015): 158–76.

Del cuerpo al vacío: Una situación de Antonieta Sosa. Caracas: Galería de Arte Nacional, 1985.

Fernández, Franklin. "Interview: Antonieta Sosa." Bomb—Artists in Conversation, December 18, 2009. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/antonieta-sosa.

Ramos, María Elena. Cas(A)nto: Una propuesta de Antonieta Sosa. Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 2000.

Ramos, María Elena, and Armando Rojas Guardia. "Antonieta Sosa." In Diálogos con el arte: Entrevistas, 1976–2007, 279–307. Caracas: Equinoccio, 2007.