Text by Marco Scotini
Thursday, January 18, 2024
6:00PM - 9:00 PM
19.01.2024 - 08.03.2024
Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, Milan
Via Privata G. Ventura 6 - Via Massimiano
As from Thursday 18 January 2024, the spaces of Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani will host the latest works by artist Santiago Sierra (Madrid, 1966). Presented at LA VORÁGINE are two diverse yet complementary explorations, Los Embarrados (2022) and The Maelström (2023).
The efforts of 1300 workers and a set consisting of 275 m3 of heavy mud covering a 2414 m2 space as well as a looped 30’ minute chant accompanying a new black and white video piece by the artist, shot in The Gambia in May 2023 span over the two floors of the gallery.
On occasion of Sierra’s 2005 installation House in Mud, the floors and walls of the German institution Kestnergesellschaft in Hannover were covered and smothered in 320 cubic metres of soil - a mixture of mud and peat - alluding to the neighboring Masch Lake, an artificial water reservoir commissioned by the government and created in order to compensate as an unemployment-relief program in the 1930s. In 2022, the artist reenacted his piece in monumental dimensions in Paris as Los Embarrados, which became a temporary decaying stage, a sunken boggy pit, for invited elite spectators to witness a luxurious show, acting as radical commentary on labour and worker rights.
“Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. [...] The rest of the world, [....] most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden. The gardeners should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden [...] the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden. The gardeners have to go to the jungle”. Extracted from a speech by Josep Borrell – EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – the infernal hymn repeats itself until the video, central to the exhibition, grows into an all-consuming, kaleidoscopic vortex. On the floor and against the wall, young Gambian footballers mimic police arrest stances as if choreographed, a whirlpool of silhouettes; their faces undisclosed.
LA VORÁGINE responds to violent economies of exploitation as Sierra’s recruited workforce, comprised of individuals from distinct geopolitical and ethnic backgrounds as well as marginalized groups, devote and sell their precious time and power to dismantle authoritative narratives, breaking down oppressive societal structures and threatening capitalism’s seemingly irreversible current state.