GLOBAL ART STARS AT SP BIENAL
Global art stars are in the birthday show for the SP Bienal
FROM SÃO PAULO 27/09/2011
A cow and a calf cut in half float in a tank full of formaldehyde.
This spectacle of attraction and repulsion occupies a central space in the pavilioin of the Bienal of São Paulo, at Ibirapuera.
The Britain Damien Hirst is the artist behind this literal nature-death.
His visual excesses guided a generation of “blockbuster” North Americans chosen for the exhibition “In the Name of the Artists” which celebrates 60 years of the Sao Paulo Bienal as a way to heat it up for its 30th edition, which will happen only in 2012.
In recent decades, the production from names like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Matthew Barney left behind the classical notion of artists in their Spartan studios.
They became celebrities, stretching that 15 minutes of fame so propagated by Andy Warhol.
The flirtation with the entertainment industry has become, in certain cases, marriage: Koons was married to the former Italian porn star Cicciolina, and Barney shares his life with the Icelandic singer Björk.
Their bank accounts are also worthy of stars. In the midst of the global financial cataclysm of 2008, Hirst sold R$500 million in work at an auction in London, one of the epicenters of the credit crisis.
The same year, a sculpture by Koons was sold for R$48 million and Sherman set a record with a photograph sold for R$7 million.
“It is true that these artists have enormous visibility,” says Gunnar Kvaran, curator of the Norwegian museum Astrup Fearnley, which loaned the works in the exposition. “They are like Warhol’s grandchildren who have entered the ‘star system’.”
In the show it is possible to understand how this happened.
In one painting, Koons has oral sex with Cicciolina, Sherman does a self portrait as a breast-feeding Virgin Mary and Prince reinvents the cowboy of the Marlboro commercials.
All have appropriated fragments of visual, pop and erudite culture to articulate images as seductive and eccentric as their own personalities.
Less flashy, the show also has established artists who have walked more esthetically subtle paths.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a Cuban living in the US, explores autobiographical issues in installations that dialogue with minimalism, like a big rug made of candy wrapped in blue cellophane.
Architectural issues and desolate and empty spaces are in a video by Doug Aitken, an artist who has already shown a series of shorts on the front of MOMA in New York.
Shirin Neshat, an Iranian based in Manhattan, also creates more sober video installations, in which she discusses the plight of women in Iran and invents utopian fantasies to highlight the contradictions of the Muslim world.
In the younger and no less controversial aisle of America, artists like Nate Lowman, Paul Chan, Frank Benson, Dan Colen and Terence Koh, a Chinese living in New York, reinvent notions of sculpture and video art in works critical of North American hegemony in the world and of the country’s consumerism.
Among the most controversial, Koh, famous for being a friend off the pop star Lady Gaga, has already even sold his own excrement wrapped in gold and is not shy about using sperm and other secretions as material for his compositions.
In the commemorative show, he exhibits two sculptures covered in gold and glitter, built with bees and the head of a baboon.
Translated by DAVE WOLIN