SANTIAGO SIERRA   300 Tonnen I 300 tons       03 I 04 I 04 - 23 I 05 I 2004      
        

   
     
 


   
    Santiago Sierra
"300 Tonnen, 300 tons", 2004
Kunsthaus Bregenz
       
       
    Santiago Sierra, who was born in 1966 in Spain and has been living in Mexico City since 1995, is one of the most controversial artists of the younger generation. By the 50th Venice Biennial 2003, at the latest, he caught the attention of a broad audience overnight when he had the main entrance of the Spanish pavilion walled up. To the visitors' indignation, Sierra rerouted entry via a dingy back door that was guarded by a Spanish police officer who only allowed passage to those who could present a valid Spanish passport. The handful of visitors who were able to comply were confronted with nothing but empty rooms inside.  
               
         
    Covered word, 2003
Spanish Pavilion,
Venice Biennial, 2003
Courtesy Galerie Peter Kilchmann,
Zürich
Construction and installation of
12 forms of 75x75x 800 cm,
organized in two spaces, 2002
Galerie Carlier | Gebauer, Berlin,
March 2002
Courtesy Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich
     
               

250 cm line tattoed on
six paid people, 1999
Espacio Aglutinador,
Havanna,
December 1999
Courtesy Galerie Peter Kilchmann,
Zürich
  These are the kinds of socio- and art-critical actions and interactions that can stir up strong emotions in an audience that has grown accustomed to aesthetic appearances. In 2000, for example, Sierra erected a floor-to-ceiling wall in the New York P.S.1 gallery's white cube - an intervention that called the border fence between Mexico and the USA to mind; behind it - hidden from the visitors' view - a minimally remunerated volunteer lived for several weeks, supplied with only food and drink that was passed to him through a narrow opening like in a prison. Another example is the performance-art action in Havana where Sierra paid several young men to allow an exactly 250-cm-long line to be tattooed onto their backs in 1999.

Sierra's conceptually precise interventions into the art system are always a shocking mix of proven and familiar minimalist forms and rules, as well as physically and emotionally moving messages of a social and socio-critical as well as art-critical import. The artist considers himself an admirer of the minimalist objects by Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris. These artists' aesthetic principles constitute the very roots of his work. But in contrast to the heroes of minimalism of the sixties and seventies, Santiago Sierra charges his work with direct, personally perceivable emotional violence, political and individual reality.
 
 



"300 Tonnen, 300 tons", 2004
Kunsthaus Bregenz
 

The concept Sierra will be realizing in Bregenz turns the loading capacity of the KUB structure into an emotional touchstone for visitors. His work is a response to the minimalist, cubic reduction of the material and formal language of the building's architecture. Weights of nearly 300 tons shall be used to tax the structural capacity of the Kunsthaus to its limit; only a restricted number of visitors will be allowed into the building at any given time. With this project, Santiago Sierra continues the approach characterizing some of his earlier minimalist works and extends his artistic strategy to the entire architecture of a building for the first time.
     
         
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