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Curator & Art

The return of the confusion: Mathias Goeritz at MNCARS

The exhibition “El retorno de la serpiente. Mathias Goeritz y la invención de la arquitectura emocional” focuses, mainly, in the artist’s Mexican period. Nevertheless, Chus Tudelilla has emphasized the vital importance that Goeritz’s presence had in Spain, as a reactivating agent of artistic modernity in the postwar era and because of the practices he started, which are the grounds of his activities in Mexico. It must be mentioned the date of 1949, year in which, thanks to Goeritz’s own initiative, the first meeting of the Escuela de Altamira took place. There, artistic freedom and non-ideological art was stood up for, ideas that would later resound in Goeritz’s work.

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Mathias Goeritz, La serpiente de El Eco, variante, 2010-2011. Assembly and polychrome cardboard. Private Collection, Madrid.

The showing organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía starts with the artist’s arrival to Jalisco that same year. The first point to discuss is the curator’s confessed decision not to arrange the exhibition by a chronological or monographic discourse. Keeping in mind that the facilities the institution has for this kind of temporary showings arent’t the most suitable in museographic terms, the result is, in our opinion, the total dissolution of cohesion and coherence which demands to the visitor a constant intellectual effort into putting together the twisted and disorganized puzzle we’re given.

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Inside the experimental museum The Eco , Mexico City Hall. Photography Ramiro Chaves

In spite of this condition, we believe to have detected three big fields in which the exhibition is built around. The first one would be the artistic activity made by Goeritz in Mexico which would lead to his emotional architecture notion, the experimental museum El Eco (1953) and public spaces occupation: Ciudad de Satélite’s Towers (1957-58), the Friendship Route (1968) and Sculptoric space center at the UNAM (1978-80). On other side, we are shown his “cultural agency” agitation, meaning projects, works and showings that attack the established social and propaganda art made by Mexican muralists, first, and Nouveau Réalisme’s “antiart” later. The third and last sphere would be disquisitions about Goeritz’s stilemas concerning the way he understood and made art: experimental, abstract, modern and mystic. All of these facets get crossed, confused and, unfortunately, sometimes seem unconnected in the bigger context. A peripheral and marginal place is left to his stay in Spain, barely two rooms completely apart from the rest. Next to them there is another one dedicated to a manifest-exhibition made by Los hartos “group”, which happened in 1961, ten year after his Spanish stay.

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View room of the exhibition El retorno de la serpiente , 2014. Courtesy of MNCARS .

We’re completely aware that work and activities made by a character like Mathias Goeritz, so dense, complex and full of aspects and ideas, can’t be reduced into a conventional and simplistic exhibit –the previous monographic about Richard Hamilton was, in this sense, a masterful example-. Nevertheless, we believe that a national and public institution like MNCARS must direct his activities to the whole population, which must be addressed, of course, as intelligent, but never as informed experts in every aspect of the showing –if this were the case, why should it be made?-. In this case, an unexplained and abstract concept has been used to be the essential structure of the exhibition, a choice that, we repeat, only produces confusion. The texts shown don’t help, by the way, to clear the situation to the lost visitor, and that’s because they’re written from shameless obscurantism.

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de Satélite en Ciudad Satélite, Naucalpan, Estado de México, made by Goeritz in collaboration with Luis Barragán. Photography ProtoplasmaKid .

“El retorno de la serpiente. Mathias Goeritz y la invención de la arquitectura emocional” is part of the recent MNCARS’s plan of exhibits and acquisitions in order to break the historiographic canon of narrations around the western and “centers”. This way we understand terms as “cultural cold war” or the confrontation with Nouveau Réalisme, although we regret that other interesting issues haven’t had development in the exhibit: there is a great number of noteworthy aspects that lead to knowledge and reflection, despite the contents being shaded by the way they’re displayed.

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View room of the exhibition El retorno de la serpiente, 2014. Courtesy of MNCARS .

El retorno de la serpiente. Mathias Goeritz y la invención de la arquitectura emocional: 12th November, 2014 – 13th April, 2015

Diego Fraile

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