Monday 28 February 2011


Madame Sloane, with fashion entrepreneur Mauro Durant, showman/writer Boris Izaguirre, architect Alvaro Moreira, and fashion designer Marjan Pejoski, inside the infamous White Cubicle Toilet Gallery at the George and Dragon Public House in London

Madame Patricia Sloane, with Boris Izaguirre, getting ready to get in a taxi after a night at the George and Dragon

London was recently honoured to have the visit of Madame Patricia Sloane, the grand dame of Mexican art, who visited the british capital after forty years of absence.

Friday 25 February 2011


Martin Kippenberger's 'Magical Misery Tour', exhibited September 23 – December 4, 2004, at Gagosian Gallery, London

Martin Kippenberger's 'Magical Misery Tour', exhibited May 1 - June 13, 2009 at Capitain Petzel, Berlin

the 2004 Gagosian exhibition also included the New York Metro-Net Transportable Subway Entrance (crushed (1997), a crushed aluminum subway entrance forming part of Kippenberger’s imaginary network of underground connections. Visit the Metron-Net entrance in Syros, Greece here.

The Magical Misery Tour

Martin Kippenberger's 'Magical Misery Tour' through Brasil lasted from the 15th December 1985 to the 22nd March 1986. Three months in Brasil were too long just to be fun, it was Brasil until it hurt.

Besides Rio de Janeiro, Kippenberger also visited the North of the country, acquired a gas station by the sea in Salvador de Bahia and named it 'Tankstelle Martin Bormann/Gas Station Martin Bormann'. The rumour that this prominent exponent of National Socialism had fled to South America at the end of the Second World War was still persistent in the 1980's. With the fictionally acquired gas station, Kippenberger gave Bormann a camouflage address and the possibility of an income in exile. Kippenberger allegedly installed a telephone line and employees were obliged to answer calls with 'Tankstelle Martin Bormann'.

The spoils of this journey included diaries, posters, post cards, catalogues, a concert, records (together with Albert Oehlen), printed t-shirts, sculptures, photographs, graphics, the installation with the name 'Tankstelle Martin Bormann', and several series of paintings. These paintings feature, apart from Brasil's modernistic architectural forms, the 'round' in all its multiple variations. After his return Kippenberger said that Brazil was first and foremost round - the ever-shining sun, the curving ornamentation of the Copacabana, the round forms of women in their bikinis…

Sheets of cardboard were silk-screened and painted with advertising slogans from simple Brazilian paper napkins and product logos, together with a schematic depiction of Kippenberger's hat (A MASSA NO HELP). They were not only used for the sculptures 'Rückenschwimmer/War Gott ein Stümper/Backstroker/Was God a Bungler' and 'Baumaßnahme/Construction Measure', but also served as a basis for the 40 round Tondi and for the frames of the paintings. In Kippenberger's first monographic museum exhibition 'Miete Strom Gas/Rent Electricity Gas' at the Landesmuseum in Darmstadt in 1986, these works formed the core of the exhibition.

Kippenberger stuffed the back side of the sculpture 'Rückenschwimmer/War Gott ein Stümper/Backstroker/Was God a Bungler' with Brazilian bank notes; the monetary crisis during his visit to Brazil was a further reference to German history. Beside the evocation of a famous Nazi through the naming of an old gas station, the devaluation of the Brazilian currency in the middle of the Eighties recalled the rapid decline in value of the Reichsmark in the Weimar Republic.

from the Rio Tagebuch by Martin Kippenberger, 1986:
"Schreiende Sonne. Sambaakzente. Kreischende, psychedelische Flammen. Sündhaft teurer Whisky. LoveKino volle Breite. Vibrierende Tänzerinnen. Mitreissende Hits, Mindestverzehr. Wochenendcocktail. Stunden des Countdowns. Endlose Darbietungen wie Haarekämmen. Grooveabteilungen. Zappelnde Scheisse. Frivole Tischbestellungen von Air-Guitars begleitet. Ausgezeichnetes Bier vom Faß. Gutgelaunte Momente, Inferninios. Mac Donalds. Krach. Mulattenpupillen. Scherbenvariante. Arschvitrinen. Aufpassende Frauen. Andere Burschen. Äquivalent für Jesus. Schrille hübsche Töchter von Papa Hemingway. Devotionalien für die Macumba. Geldwechseln. Tolle Tage. Grinsende Straßen. Verdatterte Schnelligkeit. Eis mit Cola. Cola mit Eis. Versetzte Tanzflächen. Oskar Niemeyer. Entfesselte Energien. Billig, teuer, Dollar weg, Cuzero rein, je oller, je doller. Freistilbalancen. Noch ein bisschen Geld wechseln. Vorhang zur Seite. Straßenclubs. Ekstase im Unterhemd. Jede Menge Puppen. Cooler Effekt. Vielfalt und Unbefangenheit. Dolby selber mitbringen. Palado bonno. Welch ein Traum. Die Becken rufen. Die Kellner winken uns nach. Aber das glaubt uns doch zu Hause keiner."

German to English translation using Google Translate:
"Screaming sun. Samba accents. Screeching, psychedelic flames. wickedly expensive whiskey. love cinema full width. Vibrating dancers. sweeping songs, minimum consumption. weekend cocktail. hours of the countdown. Endless performances such as hair combs. Groove departments. wriggling shit. Frivole table orders from Air-Guitars accompanied . Excellent draft beer. Cheerful moments Inferninios. Mac Donalds. crash. Mulattenpupillen. shards variant. Ass showcases. Watching women. other lads. equivalent to Jesus. Shrill pretty daughters of Papa Hemingway. devotional for Macumba. exchanging money. Great days. Grinning Off roads. befuddled speed. ice and cola. Cola with ice. Offset dance floors. Oscar Niemeyer. unlimited energy. cheap, expensive, Dollar, Cuzero pure, The older, the doller. freestyle balances change. Just a little money. curtain. Street clubs. ecstasy in a vest. bring Lots of dolls. Cooler effect. diversity and impartiality. Dolby himself. palado Bonno. What a dream call. The basins. The waiter waving to us. But we believe it to any home."

Wednesday 23 February 2011


Quilt (ivory), 10 x 360 x 360 cm, concrete, foam and metal, 2011

Quilt (Sahara), 6 x 363 x 363 cm, concrete, leather and metal, 2011

embroideries by Luisa Strina in collaboration with Alexandre da Cunha

Mrs. da Cunha, Luisa Strina, Alexandre da Cunha at the opening of the exhibition

novos paulistas, Guilherme, Cassia Tabatini, Alexandre da Cunha

trio gostoso: da Cunha, Fabio Kawallys and Marcos Farinha

Heloisa Lo and Erika Verzutti


Alexandre da Cunha will exhibit embroideries made in collaboration with Luisa Strina and a series of new sculptures. The exhibition takes place in the new space of the gallery: Rua Padre João Manuel, 755

In his work, Alexandre da Cunha appropriates objects, material and citations from traditionally distinct registers in order to transform them through a process of collage of different elements. This operation usually begins with ordinary objects found in any day-to-day existence, which are appropriated, recombined and finally inserted into a new hierarchy of value. By bringing these objects into the universe of art, the artist removes their original function, whilst at the same time raising questions related to value, circulation, intentionality, among others. In many cases, he also alludes to specific styles or movements recognised by official Western Art History, thus creating – with (self)-critical humour - a hierarchical short-circuit.

In the embroideries presented at the Fair trade exhibition, we find this very collage procedure, which includes elements from the show title right to the complex network of references which these works activate. Fair trade is a type of certification that has been increasingly used in so-called developed countries to designate the products acquired from emerging countries at sustainable prices, in which the producer receives adequate remuneration, with the aim of correcting the exploitation promoted by conventional international trade. In this case, the artist casts his own dealer, Luisa Strina, in the role of producer: it was she who, one by one, stitched the embroideries shown in this exhibition over a period of two years, by hand. However, this is not merely an attempt to reverse a certain power relationship or to underscore a supposed relationship of exploitation between dealer and artist, – as this would be a very simplistic way of addressing the intricate network of relationships that permeates the contemporary art circuit today - but a much more complex operation which promotes an oscillation between the many roles she assumes: artisan, artist, dealer, artist’s assistant.

An activity such as embroidery is normally associated with women who engage in housekeeping tasks and do not have a professional occupation; an image which greatly contrasts with the figure of an entrepreneurial dealer and independent woman. These objects therefore promote the encounter of two profoundly distinct worlds.

There is also another aspect at stake in this series of works, which is also related to a process of appropriating a historical art style, taking place precisely in the incorporation of a feminine skill, giving it another dimension in relation to previous works. This something is present in Mira Schendel’s Droguinhas, in Eva Hesse’s malleable pieces, in Louise Bourgeois’ fabric works and even in Lina Bo Bardi with her appropriation of popular knowledge from the Brazilian Northeastern handicraft, configuring a kind of non-linear genealogy of a certain appreciation on the part of these female artists, of the smallness (not in a derogatory sense) and impermanence of ordinary things as well as their incorporation of techniques conveyed mainly within a feminine universe.

The logic of embroidery is taken to a larger scale, thus becoming tapestry, and determining the constructive procedure of the concrete sculptures that are shown in the exhibition. The construction made up of industrial concrete bricks employs the artisanal method in which they are laid out one by one over the gallery floor. These pieces create a rigid structure, a kind of canvas or grid which is woven by the contrasting softness of other materials such as foam.

In Fair trade, Alexandre da Cunha once again uses the mundane and the popular, this time in the form of female craftsmanship and its developments in art history, bringing these into the universe of contemporary art in a kind of tribute combined with the critical humour of someone who recognises how the revolutionary potential of this production has already been exhaustively co-opted by the art circuit.

Kiki Mazzuchelli

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Saturday 19 February 2011


Tina Modotti, photographs and various documents related to Modotti’s political activities
Tina Modotti (Udine, Italia, 1896 – Mexico City, 1942)
Many of the stories surrounding Tina Modotti, photographer and agent of the Communist Party, have been based on the letters she exchanged with Edward Weston and on newspaper articles. Modotti first became a public figure when she was linked, in 1929, to the murder of Julio Antonio Mella, founder of the Cuban Communist Party. She would later be absolved of this crime when suspicion fell on the Cuban government of the time and on Communist agents from Moscow. Some of those who have written her story have done so slanting it to clear one’s own name, as did Vittorio Vidali, Modotti’s last partner, who lived in Mexico at the end of the 1920’s and worked for different agencies of the Soviet Communist Party. It was he who accompanied Modotti on the boat that took her to Europe after being implicated in the attempted murder of President Elect Pascual Ortiz Rubio in 1930, for which she was expelled from Mexico. Modotti settled briefly in Berlin and, following Vidali’s advice, moved to Moscow in 1931. There she gave up photography in order to pursue her activities as an International Red Aid agent, a Soviet organization that supported persecuted or jailed communists around the world. With Vidali, and under the name “Maria,” she also participated on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War as a Soviet envoy. Modotti returned to Mexico in 1939 under a false name. Local newspapers mentioned her again in 1942 when she was found dead of a heart attack while in a taxi, a natural death that has been widely questioned.

Harun Farocki, Respite, 2007 (left) - Han Van Meegeren, Christus en de overspeligevrouw (right)

Harun Farocki, Respite, 2007
Harun Farocki, (born in Neutitschein, in the Czechoslovakian territory annexed by Germany in 1944.)
Respite consists of a silent black and white movie that was filmed in Westerbock, originally a Jewish refugee camp established in 1939 in Holland that was turned after the Nazi occupation of 1942 into a “transit camp” where prisoners where sent to concentration camps all over Europe. In 1944 the camp’s director commissioned the imprisoned photographer Rudolph Breslauer to film a movie that would document daily life in the camp. The movie inscribes itself in the genre of corporate movies shot to enhance the images of economic efficiency and harmonious work. Harun Farocki recovers and re edits part of this material, contra positioning it with the images of concentration camps that are now anchored in the collective imaginary in order to speculate about the objectives underlying this particular documentary. Convincing German authorities to keep the camp open? Or manipulating the facts to display a positive image for the advancing allied troops to see?

Han Van Meegeren, Interieur met paar aan clavecimbel (left) – Christ with the Adultress (1930-1944) (right). Documents related to Van Meegeren’s trial (vitrine)
Han Van Meegeren, (Deventer, 1889 – Amsterdam, 1947)
Upon not achieving recognition for his own artistic work, the painter Han Van Meegeren chose to forge and sell paintings by great Dutch masters of the seventeenth century in order to silently devote himself to his talent. In 1932 he painted Man and Woman at a Spinet, a work similar to the compositions and themes of Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), which was claimed by art historian Abraham Bredius to be one of Vermeer’s greatest works, and for which Van Meegeren charged a great sum. In spite of the fact that with this work Van Meegeren perfected the baked Bakelite technique that simulated with great precision the aging surface, the painting raised suspicion among specialists and wasn’t considered a masterpiece. Therefore, the painter reassessed his strategy and decided to create a series of paintings that would fill a void in the religious period specialists maintained existed in Vermeer’s work. Among others, he painted Christ with the Adultress (1930-1944), which he sold, at the beginning of the Second World War, to Herman Goering, a high ranking officer of the German Nazi army and a compulsive art collector. In 1945, not long after the end of the Great War, Han Van Meegeren was accused of looting Dutch cultural heritage in order to benefit Nazi officers when Christ with the Adultress, attributed to Vermeer, was found in Herman Goering’s possession. Faced with the possibility of the death penalty, Van Meegeren confessed to having forged that painting and many more. During the trial, in view of the disbelief that he could create a Vermeer, he painted a new piece which absolved him of the accusation of being a Nazi collaborator. He was, however, charged with forgery and fraud.

Domingo Malagón Alea, View of Prague, Charles’ Bridge (left) and forged documents (vitrine) – Simon Starling, Musselled Moore (right)

Domingo Malagón Alea, Forged French identity document, 1959
Domingo Malagón Alea,(Madrid, 1916. Lives in Madrid)
"Look at how things have turned out, when after enduring more than a few hardships, I could have been a successful artist, if by success we understand public recognition and general applause. In the end, I don’t know if I have truly become an artist, but of course I do know that besides other technical considerations, the success of my production came about because of my ability to maintain the greatest possible discretion." Sixteen days, 14 hours a day is the time it took Domingo Malagón Alea to create one of the false documents that would allow members of the clandestine Spanish Communist Party to live and travel in defence of their cause. From 1939 to 1975, the years that Francisco Franco governed Spain, Malagón Alea carried out this labour in a secret room in an apartment in Paris. Hoping that once the dictator was overthrown he would be able to take up his career as a painter again (which he had interrupted at the outbreak of the war), the artist painted small landscapes of the places he had visited on his various missions. Malagón Alea’s art does not only centers on these paintings, which he longed to paint again in a larger format when he would be able emerge from underground and return to Spain, but also on the safe-conducts, work permits, passports, stamps, and seals that he copied by hand—including watermarks and paper marks—and creating forgeries that are less imperfect than the originals.

The Museum of American Art (MoAA), Dorothy Miller American Painting
(The MoAA is a project based in Berlin)
The Museum of American Art (MoAA) in Berlin is an educational institution dedicated to assembling, preserving and exhibiting memories of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and its circulating exhibitions in Europe during the 1950’s. From the beginning, MoMA was locally perceived as being almost entirely pro-European and indifferent towards American art. To deflect this criticism the museum organized a series of exhibitions of contemporary American art, curated by Dorothy Miller. These exhibitions, which began with 14 Americans (1946), first introduced Gorky, Motherwell, Pollock, Gottlieb, Rothko, Kline and de Kooning into the museum context. These artists constituted the most attractive and radical segment of the works introduced to the European public in the early 1950’s by the International Program of Circulating Exhibitions, established by the MoMA, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation with the aim of “promoting greater international understanding and mutual respect”. Those were strange years in art and politics. On the one hand Modern Art had to be defended from the criticism from the right (see Alfred Barr Jr., MoMA’s Director from 1929 to 1943, “Is Modern Art Communistic?”). On the other, it became apparent, especially to people like George Kennan (North American diplomat, political scientist, and historian, known as “the father of containment” during the Cold War), that American Modern Art could be used in the “cultural Cold War” as an expression of Western creativity and freedom. Nevertheless, these circulating exhibitions helped establishing the first Post- War common European cultural identity based on Modernism (abstract art), Internationalism and individualism, finally establishing Alfred Barr Jr.’s narrative—constructed in the mid 30’s, as defined through his famous diagram and later through the MoMA permanent exhibit— as the dominant history of Modern Art until today.

Nedko Solakov, Top Secret, 1990
Nedko Solakov (Cherven Briag, Bulgaria, 1957. Lives and works in Bulgaria.)
Top Secret, created between December 1989 and February 1990, consists of an index box, filled with a series of cards detailing Nedko Solakov’s youthful collaboration with the Bulgarian state security, which he stopped in 1983. In Bulgaria, twenty one years after the changeover, the official files remain closed, and there are no publicly known documents on the artist’s collaboration. The work caused great controversy when it was first exhibited in the spring of 1990, at the height of the political changes to the long-standing Communist rule. The self-disclosing gesture in this artistic project is still unique in the context of post- Communist Europe, and since its appearance Top Secret has become an icon of its time. The forty-minute long video, which shows the artist rereading the index box’s contents, was shot in his studio in Sofia in 2007.

Simon Starling, Project for a Temporary Public Sculpture, 2009
Simon Starling, (Epsom, UK, 1967. Lives and works in Berlin and Glasgow.)
Sculptor Henri Moore and British spy Anthony Blunt are among the protagonists of a recent body of work by Simon Starling. Project for a Temporary Public Sculpture (Hiroshima) balances the weight of three half-sized replicas of Moore’s sculptures: Atom Piece, Fallen Warrior and Three Piece Reclining Figure no.2: Bridge Prop. As an early public sponsor for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Moore ambivalently accepted commissions like Nuclear Energy (1964-66) which commemorates Enrico Fermi’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (Chicago, 1942). From it, he created the smaller working model edition titled Atom Piece. The Hiroshima Museum acquired one in 1987 and displayed it until 1991 when the Japanese Hydrogen Bomb Survivors Committee objected to the fact that it was a miniature of the celebratory Chicago monument, being incongruous with the tragic history of the city’s 1945 nuclear bombings by the US. The other two sculptures, Fallen Warrior and Three Piece Reclining Figure no.2: Bridge Prop, were sold by Moore to New York businessman Joseph Hirshhorn who made his fortune by selling uranium and oil during the frenetic activities of the atomic energy commission and the beginning of the nuclear arms race. A big collector of Moore’s work, Hirshhorn donated much of his collection to the US government, whose Smithsonian Institute then established the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1966. Also included in the show are some preparatory sketches for a script that uses the traditions of the European masquerade and Japanese Noh theatre, and conflates a number of interrelated stories and characters, in an attempt to look behind Moore’s “Nuclear Energy / Atom Piece sculpture” (the latter being a smaller working model derived from the former). The script is a piece about double identities–a sculpture that was a monument to the beginnings of nuclear energy in one place (Chicago) and a memorial to the bomb in another (Hiroshima); an art historian who was also a spy, a Cold War villain, Auric Goldfinger, named after a real life architect, Erno Goldfiinger; a sculpture that was at once a reference to an elephant skull and a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament poster of a human skull and a mushroom cloud, and many other double lives besides…

Melvin Moti, No Show, 2004
Melvin Moti, (Rotterdam, Holland, 1977, Lives and works in Holland)
During World War II the Nazis conceived a master plan designed to systematically loot artistic works from all over Europe. These were plundered from museums, collectors’ houses (mainly Jewish) and then sent to Germany where they were to engross the European art museums that Hitler intended to build. With the Wehrmacht’s entrance into Russia in 1941, the Hermitage’s works were evacuated through railways to Sverdlovsk in the Urals. In No Show (2004), Melvin Moti recreates the guided visit of San Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum held by Pavel Gubchevsky for Red Army soldiers in 1943. Through his own narration Gubchevsky evoked the grandeur of the museum and its masterpieces. The gesture displayed a scenario in which spoils of war became the plot’s protagonist and the ideological value of every nation’s heritage was brought to light.

Hito Steyerl, November, 2004
(Munich, 1966. Lives and works in Berlin.)
November deals with what was once known as Internationalism but is nowadays considered terrorism. The video is centered on the figure of Andrea Wolf, a friend of the artist who participated in her first movie (a feminist martial arts feature) and who later became an active member of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) women’s army. Even when November’s starting point is a fiction now represented as a document, it is not a documentary about Wolf or the situation in the Kurdistan. It deals with the responsibility that accompanies both recuperating such libertarian gestures and postures and valuating the way in which these are employed, reflected and often manipulated by popular culture –particularly cinema-through the circulation of images.

Jill Magid, Becoming Tarden, 2009
Jill Magid (Bridgeport, USA, 1973. Lives and works in New York.)
“The secret itself is much more beautiful than its revelation.” Becoming Tarden In 204, artist Jill Magid was commissioned by the Dutch secret service (AIVD) to create a piece that would reveal the “human face” of the institution. During the next three years she met with 18 spies who volunteered to be interviewed, but remained anonymous even to her. The project resulted in a variety of forms, among them a novel called Becoming Tarden—Tarden being a character in Jerzy Kosinski’s book Cockpit, an agent (a “hummingbird”) whose real identity is kept from other agents and is often disguised as a cultural official, a business man, an artist or writer. Up to forty percent of Magid’s manuscript was censored by the AIVD, as they felt the identities of their agents were being exposed. After negotiations with the organization, she agreed to let them seize the body of the novel after being exposed—under glass and out of reach—at Tate Modern in London. She kept for her self only the Epilogue and Prologue.

Francis Alÿs’s participation at Emergency Biennial in Chechnya. February, 2005
location unknown
Francis Alÿs, (Belgium, 1959. Lives and works in Mexico )
When, in 2005, Francis Alÿs sent to Chechnya a piece of embroidery by Alighiero Boetti which he had obtained from a private collector in exchange for a drawing of his own, the artist thought that Boetti “might have been pleased to see a work of his return to the land his ancestor fought for three centuries ago.” Alÿs was referring to Giovanni Battista Boetti, a self-styled prophet who went by the name of Mansour, and led the Chechnyan resistance against the imperial expansion instigated by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century. Alÿs’s gesture raises the question of how a work finds its proper place once the artist puts it into circulation, since there is nothing to guarantee that the Boetti piece will remain in Chechnya and become part of its artistic legacy. Furthermore, by focusing on the circulation of cultural values, Alÿs’s action leads us to reflect on how an artwork is dislocated and relocated until it safely reaches a destination. Since there is not a lot of evidence as to Alÿs’s act, nor to the current whereabouts of the piece, this seems to suggest that the creation of a flow of information and the conditions for its intended journey may be more significant than its ultimate destination.


A Place Out of History
Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
September 25, 2010-March 6, 2011

A group exhibition featuring artworks by Francis Alÿs, Harun Farocki, Jill Magid, Domingo Malagón Alea, Tina Modotti, Melvin Moti, The Museum of American art (MoAA), Nedko Solakov, Simon Starling, Hito Steyerl and Han Van Meegeren.
Curated by Magalí Arriola in collaboration with Magnolia de la Garza.

The Facts:
In 1939, Carmen Ruiz Sánchez, formerly known as Tina Modotti, disembarked at the port of Veracruz. As a final gesture, the actress-turned-photographer abandoned her spot behind the camera, alleging other kinds of political priorities.

On October 29, 1947, Dutch painter Han Van Meegeren was tried for collaborating with the Nazis—a crime that was punishable by death in Post-War Netherlands—and sentenced to a year in prison for forgery.

In 1979, Sir Anthony Blunt, a member of the British intelligence service, and respected art historian was revealed to be the fourth man in the “Cambridge Five” — a group of spies that worked for the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In the spring of 1990, amid all the political changes brought about by the fall of the Communist regime, Nedko Solakov exhibited his work Top Secret, a kind of public confession detailing his collaboration with the Bulgarian Secret Police.

In 1998, Andrea Wolf (alias Sehît Ronahî), a friend of Hito Steyerl’s who starred in one of her early films, was killed in action as she fought for the Kurdistan liberation movement.

Between 2005 and 2008, the artist Jill Magid interviewed several undercover agents from the Dutch secret service, after receiving an invitation from that country’s Security and Intelligence Service to create a work of art that would give the agency a human face.

On January 25, 2009, Milo Rau asked a certain Walter Benjamin, the selfproclaimed official spokesperson of the Museum of American Art, “If there is a place out of History (even if it is just the history of Art), what kind of stories are told there?”

The Plot:
A Place Out of History emerges as a kind of platform or stage set where there converge a whole series of stories in which false identities, secret agendas, official versions and half-baked truths all played an active role—though almost always from behind the scenes—in the definition of specific political scenarios and movements. The exhibition explores the exploits, mishaps and setbacks in the life and work of legendary figures, covert individuals and key institutions in art history, including Tina Modotti, Domingo Malagón Alea, Anthony Blunt, Han Van Meegeren, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

The undercover operations and hidden agendas in which our characters participated draw on concepts such as identity and authorship, authenticity and forgery, infamy and glory. They spotlight the convergences and discrepancies between art practice and political acts, as a tool for activism and resistance, as well as for the instrumentalization of a history that at times seems to have been written in advance, the narrative reconstructions and mediatic restitutions of which have blurred the lines dividing the inside and outside, and also dividing fiction and reality.

This dialogue among contemporary artists, historic pieces and archival documents falls into a line of research that questions the neutrality and autonomy of artistic expressions, as well as art history’s constructive strategies and forms of enunciation —and, one should add, those of the curatorial practice and discourse as a reconnaissance tool which contributes to the writing of a historic moment.

Thursday 17 February 2011


Wilfredo Prieto, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus at Kunsthalle Lissabon

Wilfredo Prieto
Paisagem com a queda de Ícaro
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
Kunsthalle Lissabon
10.02.2011 | 19.03.2011

Kunsthalle Lissabon is proud to present, for the first time in Portugal, the work of Barcelona-based Cuban artist Wilfredo Prieto. Prieto's work reveals a critical position resulting from the discrete modification of everyday objects. These subtle interventions result in an image in which the artistic gesture becomes almost invisible and political issues are often addressed. Even though the artist doesn't aim at entertaining the viewer, humor often becomes an important part of his practice, not as a goal in itself, but rather as the result of his critical distance or the unconventional relation established with the topics or media he chooses to approach.

In Landscape with the fall of Icarus, his new project for Kunsthalle Lissabon, Prieto reinterprets in an ironic, yet playful manner, the homonym painting until recently attributed to Pieter Bruegel. In Greek mythology, Icarus succeeded in flying, with wings made by his father Daedalus, using feathers secured with wax. Ignoring his father's warnings, Icarus chose to fly too close to the sun, melting the wax, and fell into the sea and drowned. In the painting, his legs can still be seen in the water, as he struggles not to drown. Wilfredo Prieto thus departs from the work of Bruegel to explore and reflect upon the idea of landscape, its connection to reality and its relevance as a privileged discipline in Art History. Landscape with the fall of Icarus will take place outside Kunsthalle Lissabon's physical space, in Praça da Alegria, an iconic square in central Lisbon.

Wilfredo Prieto was born in Sancti-Spíritus, Cuba, in 1978. He lives and works in La Havana, Cuba and Barcelona, Spain. Having graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), Havana, Cuba, some of his recent solo shows include Atado a la pata de la mesa, Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo (CA2M), Madrid, Spain (2011); Negro, Mate, Seco, NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona, Spain (2010); Mountain, SMAK, Ghent, Belgium (2008); Dead angle (Lost Bills), Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France (2006); Mute, McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Canada (2006); Mucho ruido y pocas nueces II (a lot of noise and a few nuts), MUSAC, Leon, Spain (2005). His work was featured in several group shows, namely Lisson presents 4, Lisson Gallery, London, UK (2009); Stowaways, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, USA (2009); That Was Then... This Is Now, PS1 MOMA, New York, USA (2008); Environment: Perils, Promises and Perplexities, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2008). Prieto also participated in several biennials such as the 29th Sao Paulo Biennale, the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, Thesaloniki Biennial, I Singapore Biennial and the VIII, IX and X editions of the Havana Biennial and Biennale Cuvée, Linz in 2009. He was awarded with The Cartier Foundation Award in 2008. Wilfredo Prieto is represented by Nogueras Blanchard.

Wednesday 16 February 2011


Keith Wilson's 'Zone 1' sculpture based on the shape of the mid section of the Piccadilly line

exhibition view

Charles Avery, drawings and scene inside glass box

Phoebe Unwin's paintings

The Maureen Paley corner, Wolfgang Tillmans' photograph and 'Truth Study Centre' and Maaike Schoorel's paintings (to the right)

photocopies on Wolfgang Tillman's 'Truth Study' Centre tables, Guatemala hole, homosexuals in Iran

Maaike Schoorel's almost invisible paintings

Gwendoline Christie, Princess Julia and the George and Dragon at Nathaniel Mellor's film 'Our House, Episode 2'

Olivia Plender's 'The Lost Works of Johan Riding', archive on a fictional filmmaker

Ian Kiaer, 'Melnikov Project'

Spartacus Chetwynd, 'The Folding House', performance stage

Karla Black's floating pink sculpture and Varda Caivano's paintings

Varda Caivano's paintings

Juliette Blightman, 'so a day is not really a day because each day is like having another day and they begin to have nothing', subtle intervention and lecture-performance loosely based on Fassbinder's 'Fear of Fear'

Sarah Lucas' 'Nuds' nylon tights sculptures and Becky Beasley's 'Korrrektur' series photographs

Harroon Mirza's sound sculpture with footage of Joy Division's Ian Curtis and his song 'She's Lost Control'

Christian Marclay's 'The Clock'

Simon Martin, seated Olmec figure from the Sainsbury Collection and 'Untitled (after Sol Le Witt)'

curators Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton being interviewed...

Press Release:
British Art 7
In teh Days of the Comet
The British Art Show is widely recognised as the most ambitious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art. Organised by Hayward Touring, it takes place every five years and tours to four different cities across the UK. Now in its seventh incarnation, British Art Show 7 opens in Nottingham, and tours to the Hayward Gallery in London and galleries across the cities of Glasgow and Plymouth.

Curated by Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton, the 39 selected artists have been chosen on the grounds of their significant contribution to contemporary art in the last five years. All artworks included have been produced since 2005 and encompass sculpture, painting, installation, drawing, photography, film, video and performance, with many artists creating new works especially for the exhibition.

The Curators write:

"British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet looks to art made in the period 2005–10, paying particular attention to the ways in which artists make use of histories – be they distant or proximate, longingly imagined or all too real – to illuminate our present moment. While current scientific theory posits that comets are nothing more than elliptically orbiting clumps of dust, ice and gas, utterly indifferent to our affairs, they remain powerful reminders of the way in which our species has attempted to understand experience through the measuring of time, the writing of history, the belief in cosmological influence, and the notion of a deterministic universe. The comet alludes here to the measuring of time, to historical recurrence, and – in the commonly counter-clockwise movements of these heavenly bodies around the sun – to pocket universes and parallel worlds. The comet is a sign mistaken for a wonder, be that cataclysm or rapture, and a figure of looping obsession. It is something that is always with us, no matter that it is sometimes far out of sight.

The subtitle of the seventh British Art Show is taken from H.G. Wells's 1906 novel In the Days of the Comet, set a century ago in 1910, the date of Halley's Comet's last-but-one apparition. The British socialist and science-fiction writer imagines the appearance of a comet over the United Kingdom, which releases a green gas that creates a ‘Great Change' in all mankind, turning it away from war and exploitation and towards rationalism and a heightened appreciation of beauty. Notably, this shift in understanding is achieved not through human agency, but through an ineffable alien force. What is significant about Wells's title, however, is that the ‘days' to which it refers are not only those of an enforced Utopian transformation, but the whole of recorded history. The comet's recurrent nature, and its orbiting of the same sun as the Earth, draws together the past, present and perhaps even the future too. Britain has always lived ‘in the days of the comet."

Lisa Le Feuvre & Tom Morton, 2010