Magazine article Artforum International

"Site Santa Fe." (Various Artists, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Magazine article Artforum International

"Site Santa Fe." (Various Artists, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Article excerpt

New Mexico has always been about tourists - one way or another. It was settled by them, and kept alive economically for centuries (Spaniards, Old Mexicans, Texans, and Californians, in order of appearance). So it,s fitting, in a way, that "Site Santa Fe," Santa Fe,s new biennial, was currated by tourists (Bruce Ferguson and Vincent Varga) for tourists (the "contemporary art world," whoever that is nowadays). And since "place" seems to be the theme of choice for international-scale exhibitions this year, "Site Santa Fe" carries the subtitle "Longing and Belonging: From the Faraway Nearby." Which serves to locate the whole thing squarely in the midst of a larger discourse, about, among other things, being a tourist. Or at least feeling like one.

So it's also fitting that much of the best work in "Longing and Belonging" is actually about that peculiar activity of going from one place to another with no intention other than surveying the flora and fuana. Carlos Capelan's fake museum installation gives one a sense of what it,s like to actually live in a "tourist destination," where the feeling that you're just part of the attractions is occasionally overwhelming. Chie Matsui's installation works a similar vein, reproducing that `70s funk retro attempt to break with "Santa Fe Style": big cubes with little round mirrors, bright-red paint, and fun fur. Imre Bukta's installation of railroad ties, figures skating, and photos is definitely sweet, hovering in that space between "quaint" and "lovely" just like an actual tourist spot. Bruce Nauman's piece pretty exactly reproduces the experience of dealing with tourists in the New Age capitol of the world. In one room, two video monitors emit an endless discussion about talking and listening, only completely out of synch. But it was Tseng Kwong-Chi's self-portraits that seemed to be most emblematic of "Site Santa Fe's, best intentions. …

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