Marta Minujín is one of the artworld’s most vibrant and effervescent artists, as Ava Baria found out when she caught up with the artist in Buenos Aires.
Renowned conceptual and performance artist, Marta Minujín, is a flamboyant Argentine who, at age 77, shows no signs of slowing down: “I am still creating art because it is my way of living, and I can’t stop. I cannot. I will die working,” she said.
A pioneer of pop art, performance art, happenings, ‘living’ sculptures and installations, Minujín deconstructs art only to reconstruct it again, irreverently and often ephemerally, seeking to use her mediums as the message and to make artworks in real-time.
Minujín’s career began in Paris and New York (not surprisingly, she was a friend of Warhol’s), and from the mid-1960s she became one of the most energetic proponents of pop art and public art scenes in Buenos Aires. Her award-winning seminal work, ¡Revuelquese y Viva! (1964), was a construction of hand-painted mattresses that invited audience participation; her famed La Menesunda (1965), a visual labyrinth of 16 environments, saw over 30,000 visitors flocking to participate; and Minuphone (1967) was an interactive telephone booth.
It hasn’t all been lighthearted though: her Parthenon of Books (1983) was a recreation of the renowned edifice made entirely out of newly ‘unbanned’ books erected in central Buenos Aires, that became a symbol of Argentina’s awakening from the nightmare of repression. And she revisited this theme as part of the documenta 14 art festival in Kassel, Germany, inviting viewers to participate in this embodiment of confiscated cultural knowledge by bringing a book of their own to add to her creation.
Minujín’s work has won awards and accolades and she declares that she will always abide by her true belief that “everything is art.” Her studio, in the leafy San Cristóbal suburb of Buenos Aires, is flooded not only with sunshine, but also with sculptures, artworks, posters, acrylics, fabrics, and many other mediums that are a testimony to her continuous experimentation with materials and techniques.
Kitted out in a fluorescent jumpsuit and her trademark aviators, Minujín explains the purpose of her oeuvres: “Art is too elevated and it shouldn’t be. Art should be about doing; it is not about people buying it. You don’t need to understand art; you only have to live in art. I live in it.”
Continuing on this theme, she says: “All my work is for everyone; all my sculptures are designed for the outside, not for galleries. That is why I did the Encuentra a tu igual. It was called Find your Match so you could encounter your soulmate, which I made happen.’ Minujín made use of mobile technology and a drone for this work. Encuentra a tu igual started with an app, which, through a series of questions, invited audiences to find their soulmates. It was broadcast in real-time to four museums and concluded with an encounter at the Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, where the artist dropped thousands of flower petals from a helicopter onto the crowds gathered there.
‘People need this,’ she says. ‘The energy made me cry. We had 600 pounds of flower petals that rained on the crowds. This was about love. About colours. About the soul. But above all, it was about art. About instantaneous art, which I believe in. Art is everywhere.’