Costa was one of the most important artists and critics working in Latin America in the 1960s. With Roberto Jacoby and Raúl Escari, Costa coauthored the important manifesto “Un arte de los medios de comunicación” (“An Art of Communications Media”) in 1967, which launched a period of artistic experiments with mass media. Names of Friends: Poem for the Deaf-Mute was shot by Costa’s friend Hannah Weiner on Super 8 in 1969. The film shows a fragment of the artist’s face while he mouths the names of fifty-three of his international friends, ranging from acquaintances to collaborators, including notables like the poet Octavio Paz, the critic and curator Lucy Lippard, and the artist Marisol. While a lip-reader might be able to decipher the names, Costa makes no sound, and the viewer must contend with the movement of Costa’s lips and tongue. As a mode of delivering information, speech is emptied of its content and staged as a bodily sketch: lips in motion.
Gallery label from Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, September 5, 2015–January 3, 2016.