Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded
June 26 – September 29 2019
In June 2019, the New Museum presented an exhibition by the epoch-defining Argentinian artist Marta Minujín (b. 1943, Buenos Aires) in the Museum’s Third Floor Gallery. “Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded” presented the US debut of the artists most iconic work, La Menesunda.
For six decades prior to the exhibition, Minujín developed happenings, performances, installations, and video works that greatly influenced generations of contemporary artists in Latin America and beyond. Minujíns work combined elements of experimental theater, film and television, advertising, and sculpture to create total environments that placed viewers at the center of social situations to confront them with the seductiveness of media images and celebrity culture. The artist emerged in the 1960s as one of the strongest voices in Argentinian art, her simultaneously monumental and fragile works challenged conventions of art while testifying to her unyielding engagement with both radical artistic forms and the artifices of popular culture. Minujín’s capacity to inspire awe and surprise solidified her reputation as a pioneer of Latin American conceptual art.
This exhibition marked the US debut of her most renowned work, La Menesunda, which Minujín devised with artist Rubén Santantonín in 1965 at the Instituto Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. The work led visitors on a circuitous journey through eleven distinct spaces. This intricate, interactive labyrinth sought to provoke visitors and spur them into action, offering new modes of encounter with consumer culture, mass media, and urban life. While La Menesunda was created as a direct response to street life in Buenos Aires—the title is slang for a confusing situation—the work, alongside that of Christo, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Niki de Saint Phalle, and others, counted among the earliest large-scale environments made by artists. Although the work was created more than fifty years ago, it prefigures the contemporary obsession with participatory spaces, the lure of new pop-up museums, and the quest for an intensity of experience that defines social media today.
The exhibition was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Helga Christoffersen, Associate Curator.
La Menesunda was co-produced by the New Museum and the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires.