Friday, January 11, 2008

santiago sierra

I'm hoping to get up to London tomorrow to catch a couple of exhibitions, and one of the prospective shows is Santiago Sierra's latest at the Lisson Gallery. I've not seen much of his stuff previously, but my interest is very much piqued by Siobhán's interesting examination of his themes and approaches over the years, and in the strong anti-establishment current which runs through (and perhaps contradicts) his art.

Here's Siobhán, over at her Wigglymittens blog, on one previous work of his:

"Sierra takes the idea of exclusivity and the art gallery to an extreme. In 2003 he was chosen to represent Spain in the Venice Biennale. He erected a brick wall at the entrance of the Spanish pavilion, and set up a customs style checkpoint. You could only enter the pavilion if you possessed a Spanish passport. Once inside, the gallery space was barren and empty, but the point of the piece was not the space itself, as with the Lisson piece, it was what access to the space symbolized. The idea that the art gallery was run on a closed set of values put forward in ‘Inside the White Cube’ is what Sierra put into question in this piece, swapping one value system, based around art, for another one, based around nationality and normally common at border controls."
And here are some of Siobhán's thoughts from the end of her piece.

"If Santiago Sierra’s work were situated outside of the gallery context, it would not be art; it would be the everyday- people working in bad jobs for little money. Sierra needs the gallery space to give his work context, and however much he rails against it, it is vital in validating the pieces he makes as being art, therefore however much Santiago Sierra claims to challenge and highlight exploitation and power structures he still relies on institutions and people with the power to give his work context. Although he appears to be than biting the hand that feeds, he's merely sucking at it with toothless gums."
Click here to read her post in its entirety.

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