Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Medina: PERIFERICO CARACAS / ARTE CONTEMPORANEO

Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Medina: PERIFERICO CARACAS / ARTE CONTEMPORANEO

Article excerpt

In 2003, the private owners of a copy of Rodin's Monument to Balzac, 1898, removed it from a courtyard of the Caracas Athenaeum, apparently fearing politically motivated vandalism. The next year, demonstrators knocked down the figure of Christopher Columbus from the Monumento a Colon en el Golfo Triste, erected a century earlier to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the explorer in the Americas. Daniel Medina has recorded those dramatic events in his native city by culling from the Internet a photograph of each of the eviscerated public sites, which he then included in an installation titled Lo qua es del pueblo va pa'l pueblo y lo que es del cura va pa 'la igiesia (Give to the People What Belongs to the People, and Give to the Priest What Belongs to the Church) (all works 201.2). He hung the images on opposite walls, each in front of a small patinated-plaster figure of a baseball player throwing a ball, apparently directly at the picture. In the wake of heated public debates in Venezuela following the disappearance of the statues, the work was the most overtly political piece in Medina's recent show, elegantly curated by Felix Suazo; it seemed to detect early alarming signs of a "cultural revolution" being launched against the old bourgeois, colonial society in his country. But the installation was characteristic of Medina's conceptual approach: He often addresses the changing fate of monuments and emblematic edifices, as well as the public perception of current events and the way they are chronicled in ephemeral records, which, nevertheless, endlessly circulate in souvenir shops, on newsstands, and on the Web.

Medina seems not to be satisfied with being a passive witness to the changes around him; in fact, he appears to want to participate in them--to "throw a curveball" in their direction, suggesting an action whose purpose may be deliberately unclear. …

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