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April 24 2009 6 24 /04 /April /2009 14:38

For his exhibition at the Magasin 3 until June 7 in Stockholm, the alterglobalist photograph and video director Santiago Sierra will continue to awaken us to exploitation of men by men, non application of the right of human, and other critical socials conditions.

Capitalism, labor and exploitation are the main topics Sierra is interested to work on, he truly believes in the social importance of the artist. His actions provokes sometimes controversy: when he paid drug-addicted prostitutes from Brazil in their drug of choice to let them have a line tattooed across their backs, or when he covered ten Iraqi immigrants in insulating polyurethane foam and waiting for it to harden. But the artist also believes in our power of reflection, of being able to see behind those performances his struggle for human rights.

The work exhibited is constituted by the traces and documentation of two new actions he made in relation with the location of the Magasin 3, next to the port. Videos are also displayed inside. With Santiago Sierra, no need of explanations, the title lead us to reflect on the significance of the content, beyond the form : "OBSTRUCTION OF A LINE OF CONTAINERS BY A PERSON", "BANANA COMPANY ILLUMINATED BY DIESEL GENERATOR" are two performances that deal with topics dear to the artist, transport, trade and truck. The catalog of the exhibition highlights all the process of the work.

Those two actions are accompanied, in the gallery entrance and on billboards all around the city, by “89 HUICHOLS” a series of black and white photographs. They are unusual portraits of the Huichols tribe, in not showing their face but for instance a neck, a scare, a back; the silence of the pictures are shouting the intolerance they undergo. About this work, Sierra said : “The interesting thing is also that when you have somebody… when you don’t see the face of somebody, their position becomes more active, you know, you have to think why does she not show me the face, you know. And in a world full of images, this image, which is an anti image in a way, becomes full of meaning, because the person has to create what the person doesn’t see.”. Furthermore, putting those photographs on billboard, pervading the everyday life of the citizens, create a contrast to the commercial portrait they usually have on. The effect is radical, a kind of ambiguous guilt emerge from us, even if we might not even know who the Huichols are…

The Huichols is one of the last tribe of North America who kept their pre-Columbian traditions. They are very religious and don’t use the concept of money, which word doesn’t even exist in their language (The Wixarikal). The community continues to do very ceremonies and sacrifices, necessary to their beliefs. They live and work in extremely bad conditions, and have to fight against the Government and the farmers around who don’t respect their land right and their traditions.

The Huichols are not the only group of people Sierra is interested in. “184 PERUVIAN WORKERS”, made in Santiago de Chile, 2007 and “100 BEGGARS” made in Mexico City, 2005 are examples of this same work which provoke in us an uneasyfealing. The curator Elisabeth Millqvist wrote in the catalog :  “The disturbing quality of Sierra’s works lies not in the gap between me and the Other but in the unbearable recognizing of another human being.”

Santiago Sierra was born in Spain in 1966. This exhibition is the first extensive presentation of the artist in Sweden. His work can be seen concurrently at Political/Minimal, Kunstwerke, Berlin, and The Living Currency, Tate Modern, London amongst others. In London he is also showing the new work Death Counter. Sierra has exhibited extensively at venues such as the Venice Biennale (2003, 2001); ARS 01, KIASMA, Helsinki (2001); KunstWerke, Berlin and PS1, New York (2000).

[Visuals : Above : Santiago Sierra, "OBSTRUCTION OF A LINE OF CONTAINERS BY A PERSON", Anillo Periférico Sur. Mexico City, Mexico. November 1998. Below : Santiago Sierra , view of a billboard in Stockholm, "89 HUICHOLES", San Andrés Jalisco. Jalisco, Mexico. January 2006. Collection Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall.]

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