Friday, June 08, 2007

The World According to Felix

Felix Gonzales-Torres headlines the Times art section today. He has a number of works in the Venice Biennale. As the world will have it, these things are never timely. The seminal Cuban-American artist has been dead for eleven years.

To my mind, GT is an artist who has been long underrated. He is a forethinker in so many aspects of 80's-90's atr, conceptually and politically. I first saw his work in about 1995 at the Chicago Art Institute. The piece I saw was strings of light bulbs hung in varying arrays from the ceiling. The guard told me that the bulbs were left on all the time, and burnt out at random. Once they burn out of course, they are never replaced. Ironically, at the time, this very, short visit to Chicago, I was meeting a friend who was beginning to die from HIV, and experiencing dementia. I lost touch with this person.

Because I was a generation younger than Felix, I have had the blessing of never having lost a friend to AIDS, although HIV has become part of my daily vocabulary. And death, in other forms, certainly is. Perhaps that is why Felix's work is so dear to me. It's all about the vanishing, and the audience taking part in the vanishing. The audience is invited to take the candy and eat it. To take a piece of paper and keep it. To make the art disintergrate, and yet live elsewhere. Even Yoko Ono has borrowed these ideas.

But, GT is smart too. He wrote," The most sucessful of all political moves are the ones that don't appear 'political.'

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