Magazine article Artforum International

Mario Garcia Torres: Stedelijk Museum CS

Magazine article Artforum International

Mario Garcia Torres: Stedelijk Museum CS

Article excerpt

The work of Mario Garcia Torres traces and restages half-hidden histories and lost moments. For example, the slide piece What Happens in Halifax Stays in Halifax (In 36 Slides), 2004-2006, explores the aftermath of a "secret piece" by Robert Barry, executed by students in Halifax in 1969; neither the black-and-white images nor the subtitles give direct clues as to the nature of this piece, which only exists, if at all, in the participants' memories. Even while taking part in the current wave of reinvestigation, and sometimes fetishization, of historical Conceptualism, Garcia Torres is noteworthy for exploring historical and political connections that exceed the limits of standard art history; a number of works from 2006 are based on the One Hotel run by Alighiero Boetti in Kabul--a war-torn city where any trace of this venture has probably been erased.

The centerpiece of Garcia Torres's exhibition (curated by Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen) at the Stedelijk Museum CS--the museum's temporary quarters while the old building is being restored and extended--was the video A Brief History of Jimmie Johnson's Legacy, 2006-2007. Toward the end, it shows color footage of three adolescents running through the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City. Garcia Torres had asked these visitors to the museum to reenact a scene in Godard's Bande a part (1964) in which the three main characters break the speed record for visiting the Louvre (previously held by one "Jimmie Johnson"). Aside from this remake, the video consists of a montage of black-and-white stills from Bande a part and other films--an earlier variation on the Godard scene from Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003) as well as museum scenes from lighthearted fare such as L.A. Story (1991) and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)--in combination with footage showing performative interventions in museums during the '60s and '70s by artists such as Vito Acconci and David Hammons.

Making no distinction between movie characters and artists, the voice-over wonders how such actions might function in the different context of today. However, with its smugly objective, disingenuously warm, and subtly patronizing tone, reminiscent of corporate videos, the voice itself seems to cast doubt on the seriousness of Garcia Torres's strategy of "rehearsing" obscure historical moments in order to see if they can still have an effect. …

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