While in ISA you made several public art works, many of them iconic in your career. Who were your professors then and how do you think they encouraged your interest in public intervention?
This was the time when I was working with Eduardo Ponjuán, with René Francisco and with Gustavo Pita. It was the stage in which I was questioning all the education, the artistic teaching I had received. I had studied painting, where you are limited to a representational square and, in that square, you empty your interpretation of reality. While in the university, we questioned the limits of art, of art-life relationship, where “going outside” the outlines of art is, where does a work begin and were does it end. And a series of pieces that had much to do with public intervention, with landscape, emerged from this debate, something I am retaking today.
I would like to bring up three works that are not thematically related. They do not even belong to the same moment, but a curious relationship emerges between the outside space – let us call it public – and the inner space of the museum or institution where they were shown. The pieces are Mucho ruido y pocas nueces (Much Ado about Nothing, Galería Habana, 2003), Línea ascendente (Ascending Line, Frieze London, 2007) and Sin título (Alfombra Roja) – Untitled (Red Carpet, the version exhibited in the Tamayo Museum, Mexico DF, 2013). Once I see them, all these pieces make me feel the need of rereading them, because you do not know if they are to be read from outside to inside or in the opposite direction. Can you talk about the outer-inner space relationship we find in these pieces?
(…) for me to reading art may be understood just like eating. You sit at a table where you have all the pieces of cutlery, a comfortable chair, wine in a fine cup to savor it better. You are going to eat with the adequate fork which helps to oxygenate the food and all those details introducing you into the comfort of experience. We know the museum is the place to see art. You have space, silence enough, adequate lighting, distance and all the elements conditioning your experience in that space. But when you eat in the street and other less suitable or less comfortable circumstances, a different experience takes place: you eat with your hands or you tear out pieces of the sandwich while riding the bike, because you are hungry or you are in a hurry, and the pleasure of that food is different. It is not the place to eat: that is why the meaning of the food changes, but it may be equally enjoyable. Perhaps you are eating while the sun or the wind is on you and a different pleasure emerges, the same reading art may have in another context, outside.
How did the idea of the Circo triste (Sad Circus, 2012), your intervention in the last edition of the Biennial, come up?
The intention with Circo triste was to create an inner space in the outer space. To make a striking show in the center of the city and that all that aesthetics of the show would stay in the appearance, because the inner image of the circus is dramatic. After all, it was an empty circus, abandoned by its own workers, a space with no life. For me, it was rather a reflection on the cultural institution, on the social and political institution: it was reflecting that point of crisis, of abandonment, a checkmate moment. Here, I am interested on the idea of failure as a concept, and being able to freeze this instant in which the show ends and the audience departs leaving the stage in an absolute stand by, where it is precisely that vacuum what is generating the contents of the piece. As if taking a photogram of what nobody saw or what was overlooked in a film and thus making the image eternal.
- Wilfredo Prieto: In the Line of Sight. Fragments of an unpublished interview, spring, 2014