Marta Minujín
Argentina, 1953
Marta Minujín is an Argentine artist who was born in Buenos Aires in 1943. She is currently regarded as one of the key figures in the history of contemporary art in Latin America. Her multidisciplinary work is characterised by a Pop imaginary, an emphasis on participation, and a critical perspective—qualities that suggest an affinity with the tenets of Conceptual Art and the Fluxus movement’s focus on living art. After studying fine art at several schools in Buenos Aires, in 1961 Minujín received a grant from the French government to travel to Paris. There she discovered Art Informel, the first trend to exert an influence on her work. In 1963 she returned to France, where she came in contact with the ‘New Realists’ and reaffirmed both the Pop base of her work and her interest in performance art. A standout project from this period was her first happening, Destrucción (1963), in which her works were modified by invited guests and then burned on a bonfire. After her return to Argentina, in the late 1960s and early 1970s her work matured, and environmental installation and group performance became the main formats she worked in. Several stays in New York during that period brought her into contact first with the ‘hippy’ counterculture movement—giving rise to her fascination with psychedelic environments—and later with the artistic context of Andy Warhol, with whom she worked on a number of occasions. Social engagement became an increasingly significant aspect of her happenings, and she developed two lines of action: one she calls ‘agricultural art in action’, in which she combines art and nature, and another she describes as ‘edible art’, in which she tends to sacralise popular myths by transforming them into foods that are offered to attendees. Works from this stage include El obelisco acostado (1978), presented at the first São Paulo Biennial, El obelisco de pan dulce (1979), and La Venus de queso (1981). Two other constants in her work are resistance and political commitment, especially in the form of opposition to Argentina’s dictatorship. Projects that express a clear ideological position include Partenón de libros (1983), a full-scale iron replica of the Greek Parthenon covered with books banned in Argentina during the military dictatorship, and El pago de la deuda externa argentina en oro latinoamericano, in which the artist hands cobs of corn to Andy Warhol. In Solving the International Conflict with Art and Corn (1996), Minujín staged an exchange of corncobs with a Margaret Thatcher lookalike as a way to reflect on the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands. Since the 1990s Marta Minujín’s work has been the subject a series of historical re-examinations and has drawn considerable international attention. As a result, she has come to be seen as one of the pioneers of performance art on the world stage. This growing recognition was evidenced by a retrospective presented at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) in 2010 (Marta Minujín. Obras 1959-1989) and her participation in major group exhibitions such as Les années Pop (2001) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and International Pop (2015) at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Marta Minujín currently lives and works in Buenos Aires.