Tag Archives: Guggenheim Museum

Choices – Erika Verzutti

I was struck by the work of Erika Verzutti and artist from Brazil, in hindsight. I suppose that’s a good thing because it implies a resonance. For instance her work Venus on Fire references Venus of Wilandorf a fertility figure, sometimes called the nude woman, which dates back to 28,000 and 25,000 BCE and is one of the first art sculptures ever found. You sense it’s relation to history and blackness. When looking at it you feel it with out touching it. It was one of the few pieces that felt of the earth and organic structure. She inverts it, standing it on it’s head which can mean so many things in it’s context, the context of curation and the context of modern contemporary art.

Painted Lady

The work Painted Lady is the personification of a woman. Verzutti uses fruit and found objects, something that people can relate to, and sculpts it into what we recognize as breast and the limbs of a woman. She talks a lot about being local and not being disadvantaged because of not being a part of something. This is much like the experience of women, particularly those of color. Her work to me is about access, certainly this work which reminds me a lot of African sculpture. She uses things essential like food in this case, because we all eat it. We immediately recognize the sensual quality of this work and interact with it on a level that is base human.

Verzutti has a video segment on Artist Talk in which she talks about curation and choices.
In this talk she curates a few pieces within the curation of Under The Same Sun . The pieces she selects are the pieces most associated with found objects or the earth. This is telling about how she sees the world and the things she’s exploring in her work.

Erika Verzutti | Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil from Wexner Center for the Arts on Vimeo.


Erika Verzutti is interested in the formal qualities of things found in nature, and her work reveals the beauty and symbolic power of common objects with enigmatic properties. The intuitive and material qualities of Verzutti’s sculptures, collages, drawings, and paintings recall the mid-20th-century Neo-Concretist movement in her native Brazil, which rejected mechanized and overly intellectual approaches to art making in favor of a sensual, intuitive relationship between the artist and the object.

Verzutti initially studied industrial design (focusing on graphics) at the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo, and subsequently studied fine arts at Goldsmiths College, London. Her installation Pet Cemetery was exhibited at Galeria Fortes Vilaça (São Paulo) in 2008 and her work was the subject of an exhibition at the Centro Cultural São Paulo in 2012, the same year her Lilliput was shown on New York’s High Line. She is participating in the 2013 Mercosul Biennial (Porto Alegre, Brazil).

Carnegie Museum of Art


“Dignity has no nationality” and “Can you hear me?” under the same Sun

Under the Same Sun was the name of the most recent Guggenheim exhibition that explored the scope of Contemporary Art in Latin America. “Under the same Sun” also seems a very appropriate phrase to use in the title of an article that analyses the work of two artists from the lower part of the continent and the influence that the local-global binomial have had in their work.

Tania Bruguera is a Cuban contemporary artist, mostly focused on performance and conceptual art. At present time, she works between Chicago and La Havana.

Jessica Kaire is a Guatemalan contemporary artist, mostly focused on performance and conceptual art. At present time, she works between New York and Guatemala.

There is no need to point out the obvious similarities, but by looking closely at Bruguera’s and Kaire’s work -specifically at Dignity has no nationality and Can you hear me? respectively- an interesting dialogue between their discourses can be appreciated. Let’s just start by describing both pieces:

Dignity has no nationality is a public project (a collective performance?) that challenges the idea of nationality and borders. Guggenheim’s website describes Bruguera’s proposal:

“The artist and her collaborators will be stationed outside the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to gather signatures on postcards addressed to Pope Francis. Referring to Vatican City as a place that was “born as a conceptual nation without borders,” these cards request that the Pope grant citizenship to all immigrants as a concrete gesture of support and protection. Members of the public who are unable to visit the museum may also contribute their signatures online at dignityhasnonationality.org.”


On the other hand, Can you hear me? was a series of performances and their respective video-record, in which Jessica Kaire recreates identical settings in both sides of Skype conversations she held with Guatemalan friends and family while being in New York. In her website, the Guatemalan artist explains her project as follows: “This low-tech project is an exploration of the dissolving of boundaries through new technologies. It also presents an opportunity to alter our spacial and temporal awareness.”


Image courtesy of Jessica Kaire’s website

After this brief introduction, we can start digging deeper on these projects similarities and specificities.

First, let’s go over what these artists share: Both were born in countries with a rough political history and a significant diaspora (which somehow they are part from), both are currently based in the U.S., globalization and its influence on identity are part of both personal quest, and both embrace technological and social practices’ languages and aesthetics (petition signing and Skype conversations) to create their pieces.

As there is some common ground between both pieces, there are also differences on the way they approach to the subject matter (understood as the intersection between identity, migration, and globalization). Dignity has no Nationality tries to detach identity from its geographical and national constrains. Can you hear me? explores the role of geographical distance in preserving identity, which in this case is not necessarily a national or geographical one, but one that builds up from personal, intimate relationships.

One could say these are variations on the same theme, but while Tania’s proposes a political approach, Jessica’s offers a more ludic one. The former poses again Debord’s and Benjamin’s questions about the role of art and its possibility to promote change. The latter puts those questions aside (at least in this particular piece) and focuses on the experience, on the now.

Bruguera’s and Kaire’s selected pieces ignite several reflections regarding the nature of art, its purposes, its formats, its environment. One thing is certain; a blog post is not enough to express the understanding one can get from posing both pieces “under the same Sun.