The New Museum will present an exhibition by the Argentinian artist Marta Minujín (b. 1943, Buenos Aires) on view in the Museum’s Third Floor Gallery from June 26 to September 29, 2019. Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded” presents the U.S. debut of her most iconic work, La Menesunda.
During the past 60 years, Minujín has developed happenings, performances, installations and video works that have influenced generations of contemporary artists in Latin America and beyond. Minujín combines elements of experimental theater, film and television, advertising and sculpture to create total environments that place viewers at the center of social situations, confronting them with their own political and cultural reality and the seductiveness of media and celebrity culture. Emerging in the 1960s as one of the strongest voices in Argentinian art, her simultaneously monumental and fragile works challenged artistic conventions while testifying to her unyielding engagement with radical artistic forms and the artifices of popular culture, which have undoubtedly solidified Minujín as a pioneer of Latin American Conceptual art.
In 1965, at the Instituto Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Minujín and Rubén Santantonín devised the now-legendary environment La Menesunda. This intricate labyrinth sought to provoke visitors and spur them into action, offering new modes of encounter with consumer culture, mass media and urban life. 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, demonstrating how Minujín 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.
Occupying the Museum’s Third Floor, La Menesunda is composed of 11 distinct spaces through which visitors move, one at a time. Entering the work through a doorway in the shape of a human silhouette, visitors must then climb a set of stairs and proceed through a series of narrow hallways and staircases, discovering new spaces and situations intended to surprise and shock along the way. Moving through an environment simulating human intestines, a refrigerator, and the interior of a woman’s head, visitors will encounter live performers and moving parts triggered by the visitors’ own actions; they will emerge transformed by an encounter with unexpected textures, forms and sensations.
In 2015, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires presented a reconstruction of La Menesunda. The New Museum’s presentation of the work by Argentinian artist Marta Minujín, coproduced with the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, will mark the second recreation of this installation, and its first-ever presentation in the United States.