Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded
26.06.19 | 29.09.19
Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded—a coproduction of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA) and the New Museum in New York, the venue where the work is now on exhibit—is a reconstruction of the environment created by Marta Minujín (Buenos Aires, 1943) and Rubén Santantonín (Buenos Aires, 1919-1969) in 1965 for exhibition at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. In 2015, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the work’s original production, MAMBA reconstructed it on the basis of careful analysis of documentary sources such as photographs, videos, articles that appeared in the press at the time, and the testimony of artists who had worked on the original piece. When that show closed, the artist donated the work to the museum. This show at the New Museum is the first time the work has been exhibited outside Argentina. Agustina Vizcarra, a senior producer at MAMBA and the researcher in charge of La Menesunda’s reconstruction, worked on site to provide supervision and assistance. The exhibition was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson artistic director, and by Helga Christoffersen, associate curator
La Menesunda’s labyrinth-like structure winds through eleven different situations. A sequence of spaces in different shapes—cubes, polyhedrons, triangles, and circles—are covered in an array of materials that stimulate visitors’ senses “by offering new modes of encounter with consumer culture, mass media, and urban life,” as the wall text at the New Museum explains. It goes on: “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, counts among the earliest large-scale environments made by artists.” It concludes, “Although it was created over fifty years ago, the work anticipated 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.”
To reconstruct the work required understanding the layout of the original—no mean feat since the original construction design has not survived. Specific challenges included grasping how the various environments had been organized in the space, the size of each of the rooms, the materials used to make them—which ones are still manufactured and which ones are not, and, in that second case, how to reproduce them with new material. The design and production of the new version took into account questions like durability (La Menesunda was open to the public for fifteen days and, by the end, it was in ruins). In order to be transported, each room was built separately, as its own module. While the aesthetics and atmosphere of the sixties remain, the work has been adapted to meet current museum safety standards.
Content produced by arteBA. Annual Report on contemporary Argentine art