Undisovered Amerindians

Undisovered Amerindians
In order to address the widespread practice of human displays, Fusco and Gomez-Peña enclosed their own bodies in a ten-by -twelve-foot cage and presented themselves as two previously unknown "specimens representative of the Guatinaui people" in the performance piece "Undiscovered Amerindians." Inside the cage Fusco and Peña outfitted themselves in outrageous costumes and preoccupied themselves with performing equally outlandish "native" tasks. Gomez-Peña was dressed in an Aztec style breastplate, complete with a leopard skin face wrestler's mask. Fusco, in some of her performances, donned a grass skirt, leopard skin bra, baseball cap, and sneakers. She also braided her hair, a readily identifiable sign of "native authenticity."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Felix Gonzalez-Torres combined the impulses of Conceptual art, Minimalism, political activism, and chance to produce a number of "democratic artworks"--- including public billboards, give-away piles of candies, and
stacks of paper available to the viewer as souvenirs. These works, often sensuous and directly audience-centered, complicate the questions of public and private space, authorship, originality and the role of institutionalized meaning.

"Untitled (Portrait of Ross)"

The work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres calls attention to the exhibition space as well as the economy of the art object. To many of his installations, the viewer’s participation is important to the work- the audience is invited to take pieces of candy or sheets from a stack of paper- this depleting of the stack or pile becomes a metaphor, in some cases referring to the passing of time or of life's impermanence.

Gonzalez-Torres has set up a unique system for any gallery or museum curator who decides they would like to exhibit his work. Curators, who have obtained ownership of a Felix Gonzalez-Torres piece, have signed a contract with the now deceased artist. Due to the unique character of the work of Gonzalez-Torres, a certificate of authenticity and ownership accompanies each work. These certificates include a balance of specific guidelines for recreating and maintaining the works while at the same time an open-endedness that leaves space of interpretation.

Perhaps the most well known works of Gonzalez-Torres are the Candy pieces. In exhibiting a piece like
"Untitled" (Placebo),
the certificate cites the original candies used for the piece. He instructs:

“If the exact candy is not available, a similar candy may be used... A part of the intention of the work is that third parties may take individual candies form the pieces. The individual candies, and all individual candies taken from the piece collectively, do not constitute a unique work nor can they be considered the piece.” “The owner has the right to replace, at any time the quantity of candies necessary to regenerate the piece back to its ideal weight.”

In the image on the left, volunteers and the staff at the Williams College Museum of Art install "Untitled" (Placebo).

Williams College Museum of Art Presents

Felix Gonzalez-Torres "Untitled" (Placebo), 1991
December 1, 2007-March 23, 2008

I found an interesting article that describes the installation process of “Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform), 1991. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Call it the artistic opposite of a still life: Guyton had to find a living, breathing, moving performer to be part of an artwork for the show — a re-creation of the late Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ 1991 installation “Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform).”

“It was the strangest installation process I’ve ever had,” Guyton says of his search through bars in West Hollywood and Silver Lake, adding slyly, “But it was enjoyable, of course.”

For pieces like Untitled (North), 1993 Gonzalez-Torres states that the owner can install the piece how ever they would like, and it may be installed differently each time. He only asked that they try to replace burned out bulbs with the exact or a similar bulb if possible.

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