Project in collaboration with Galería de Arte Mexicano (GAM)
One of the fundamental differences between artistic expressions based on the idea of appropriation during the 60s and the notion of post- appropriation today revolves around history itself. The current challenge for the artist is to disCover new ways of dealing with what has been re-appropriated through both formal and thematic approaches. It is at this juncture where Stefan Brüggemann (Mexico City, 1975) presents his most recent exhibition, Monument for the Ceiling.
Brüggemann´s oeuvre is rooted in post-conceptual practices that combine media independence — characteristic of the art of the late 60s and early 70s—with market-oriented formalities and a bitter response towards the categorization of aesthetic values. Within these practices, the artist returns to the idea of appropriation as a notion in which an object, an idea or an image are used or reproduced without the consent of those who own them. Therefore, the artist not only chooses a strategy among others, he adopts one of the primary languages for artistic representations within the last thirty years.
Monument for the Ceiling is composed of ten fluorescent tube installations, which have re-appropriated one of the most iconic series of the New York artist Dan Flavin (1933-1996), Monument for Tatlin (1966-1969). The pieces are presented horizontally on the ceiling, having inverted its original position and returning the neon tube to its primary context as an industrial product dedicated to artificial lighting. Flavin had a special admiration for the design of the Russian artist Vladimir Tatlin 's work Monument to the Third International, a rotating spiral that would have been taller than the Eiffel Tower. Like all Flavin 's sculptures, this series was made with prefabricated tubes, and described by the artist himself as a joke, aware of the disparity between their modest and traditional materials and the grandeur of monumental sculpture. The irony of Brüggemann`s contribution lies in the act of turning and hiding the monument, placing it as an ordinary object and therefore re- appropriating what has previously been appropriated. Furthermore, it not only makes a comment to the work of Dan Flavin but also to the conceptual heritage that adopted the fluorescent tube as an alternative means for sculpture and installation, especially by artists of the late sixties.
With this act, Brüggemann's work contradicts cultural transfer process, which is understood as a phenomenon of artistic appropriation from one culture to another, usually taking place from a core into other geographies. A one-way only traffic of ideas between artists from the West and those of the periphery develops within this colonialist dynamic. Monument for the Ceiling shows that this traffic can also happen in the opposite direction.