September 18, 2009 · Print This Article
Artnet News reported yesterday on the controversy kicked up by Cuban artist (and University of Chicago faculty member) Tania Bruguera, whose performance on Aug. 27 at the Facultad de Bellas Artes at the Universidad Nacional de Columbia in Bogota caused an uproar. As part of a larger piece dealing with Columbian history and politics, Bruguera offered lines of cocaine to her audience, some of whom took the bait and consumed what turned out to be authentic (and, apparently, “good stuff” according to those audience member who partook). Here’s an excerpt from Artnet’s story:
Bruguera’s performance, which took place on Aug. 27 at an auditorium of the Facultad de Bellas Artes at the Universidad Nacional, drew enough of a crowd that it was transmitted outside to spectators via a large screen. According to various accounts, it began with three figures — representing, the artist said, a right-wing paramilitary fighter, a left-wing guerrilla and a refugee displaced by the long-running conflict in Colombia — all speaking simultaneously into a microphone. However, whatever they were trying to communicate was overshadowed when the second part of the show began, with an assistant wading into the crowd carrying a tray laden with lines of coke, presenting it for the audience’s consumption.
Reactions at the time were mixed. According to a student who was present, writing in El Tiempo, at first the event was assumed to be a joke, until several members tested the drug, and proclaimed it to be “good stuff.” At this point, some spectators joined the festivities, and others walked out (mainly the older crowd seated up front, El Tiempo’s correspondent says). Some audience members warned those who were doing the drugs that they were participating in illegal activity, while others continued to try and watch the stage action. Following the commotion, Bruguera herself took the stage, thanking her Colombian audience and exiting. And according to reports, the police were called.
Artnet also links to a YouTube clip of Bruguera responding to critics at a panel after the performance, which I’m including directly below for you Spanish speakers and body-language readers. The clip shows an angry audience member who, according to Artnet, describes herself as an “activist, journalist, artist and direct victim of the violence” and vehemently criticizes the piece for its superficiality.
Bruguera was part of the MCA Chicago’s “Diversity and Contemporary Art” panel that took place a few weeks ago on September 9th. I wasn’t able to make it – but I’m curious if this particular performance was brought up at all during the discussion. Did any of you reading this attend? For that matter, if you happened to have been present at Bruguera’s performance in Columbia, by all means let us know what you thought of it in the comments. We’re trying to reach Ms. Bruguera directly to get the artists’ side of the story, and will keep you posted.
Our midweek roundup of clips from the art and culture blogosphere, in descending order of respectability:
*The Art Newspaper interviews Luc Tuymans, whose nationally touring retrospective exhibition is co-organized by MCA Chicago Director Madeleine Grynsztejn.
*Hrag Vartanian visits America’s oldest continuous art colony.
*The Met’s “workshop Velazquez” turns out to be the real thing.
*A new chance to see what Jasper Johns called “the strangest work of art any museum ever had”: Duchamp’s Etant Donnes at Philadelphia Museum of Art.
*What?? Bjork and Matthew Barney split? Over Elizabeth Peyton? Gawker asks its readers if there’s any truth to the gossip, and is met with a resounding ‘who the fuck cares.’
*And finally, (this one’s for you Christopher): actor/starchitect-fucker Brad Pitt is rumored to have spent 50,000 pounds designing and building the perfect Gerbil domicile for his childrens’ pet rodents (via Unbeige).
This week: Duncan and Richard talk to Madeleine Grynsztejn, the new Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago!
Stolen liberally from the MCA website, with a bit of BAS embellishment:
Grynsztejn was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and London, England. She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and received her BA in art history and French from Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her MA in art history from Columbia University. She is a former Helena Rubenstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a 2007 graduate of the Getty Foundation’s Museum Leadership Institute. Grynsztejn has written, lectured, and taught extensively on contemporary art. She served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Galeria de Arte Nacional in Caracas, among other agencies. She acted as a juror for the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the Munich Kunstpreis in Germany, and the Tiffany Foundation Biennial Awards. She has also served on the advisory committees for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the American Center in Paris. She is fluent in English, Spanish, and French. Her husband, Tom Shapiro, is a marketing consultant and a damn nice guy. Yes, Bad at Sports added the “damn nice guy” part, the MCA would never be so inappropriately casual in a blurb! How dare us. The nerve! It’s true though, he really is nice. [Read more]
Ready, set, go:
*The Victorian Poetic Home.
*The story behind Klan-themed Quilts.
*Most major art museums are still dramatically lacking diversity.
*Love, love love this: Little People: a Tiny Street Art Project; see above image for an example.
*Art21 has a really interesting article on the issues that arise when installing and conserving Jenny Holzer’s works.
*White House Canvas: Rachel Somerstein analyzes an overlooked aspect of the White House’s much-buzzed about new art picks: their unusual (for the White House, anyway) emphasis on Abstraction. (Via Hrag Vartanian).
*In Malibu, California, someone actually busts out the phrase “go back to the Valley!” in all stupid seriousness. You go, L.A. Urban Rangers!
The Getty Museum on Fire? Not so far, according to the latest L.A. Times report. Thankfully the Center’s evacuation seems to have gone smoothly. Sad to say, but this kind of disaster is a regular occurrence in SoCal, and it’s not the first time the Getty’s been threatened by advancing flames. Here’s hoping everything’s back to “normal” quickly. For the rest of what’s been happening so far this week, read on…
*Jason Foumberg of NewCity reports on the cessation of Individual Artist Grants this year, and in forthcoming years, from the Driehouse Foundation.
*Arts Stimulus Funding and the Art Economy: Hrag Vartanian at Art 21 explains it all for you (extremely clearly and well; especially useful for those of us who suck at math).
*In Chicago, interest in building a South Loop art scene is on the rise, but can it really happen in this economy? (Chicagoist).
*Lynn Becker does it again: my fave architectural blogger gleefully deconstructs the wedding photos of a fab young couple who got married at the Art Institute (Edward Lifson took the gorgeous pics). Edited to add: I only just realized that “Lynn” is a he! Whoops.
*Sarah Jessica Parker talks to Artnet about her partnership with Bravo on The Untitled Artist Project (via Art Fag City, who also has an exclusive interview with the show’s casting director Nick Gilhool).
*Gallerist/blogger Edward Winkleman’s book “How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery” to be released July 14th by Allworth Press. Click here to preorder the book on Amazon; Bad at Sports interviews Winkleman about running his own art gallery on Episode 169 of the podcast here.
*Check out the British Council and Whitechapel Art Gallery’s The Fifth Curator competition, for aspiring curators outside the U.K.