February 19, 2009 - Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art - Santiago Sierra
February 19, 2009

Santiago Sierra

Stockholm, Sweden. February 2009
Photo: Martin Runeborg
Courtesy Santiago Sierra

19 FEBRUARY – 7 JUNE 2009

Curator: Elisabeth Millqvist
Frihamnen, SE -115 56 Stockholm
Phone: +46 8 545 680 40
art [​at​] magasin3.com


Santiago Sierra focuses on Magasin 3′s location within the historical free port area and presents a selection of works dated from 1998 to 2009. Transport, merchandise and shipping, all essential elements of a port, are also important subjects in Sierra’s artistic practice and the focus of an exhibition that drones, rumbles and smells.

The exhibition’s curator Elisabeth Millqvist describes the challenging artist as follows:
“Sierra’s work leaves no one unmoved. He combines the political with the poetical and provocative in works that deal with urgently pressing contemporary issues.”

The exhibition starts outside the entrance with Door plate (2006), a work that lists all those who are barred from entering. Well inside Magasin 3, in Banana Company illuminated by diesel generator he focuses his attention on the immediate surroundings. From the balcony of the gallery a spotlight is aimed at the Banana Company, illuminating the back of the building facing the quayside. The artist describes the work briefly: “I just want to remind you of where the banana comes from.” The source of illumination, the spotlight, is powered by a diesel generator placed inside. The exhaust fumes are conducted from the premises through a hose. It winds its way 50 metres through the exhibition and makes the fumes tangible. The spaces become a sheet of paper for a long, unbroken line that together with the loud and monotonous noise insists on affirming its presence.

In addition the action One person obstructing a line of containers (Stockholm, 2009) took place at the opening and is exhibited as a video projection. Six trucks drive along the wharf. Facing them, one person stands as an obstacle. The first lorries swerves, changes direction. The person stands in the way again. Standing in the way, obstruction, is a key factor in Sierra’s oeuvre and relates to several previous works. Also emphasizing the site, the entire ground floor is occupied by a large-scale sculptural work 21 Anthropometric modules made from human faeces by the people of Sulabh International, India (2005/2006). In the warehouse building the work is presented as if it was just shipped in.

For the exhibition Sierra also thinks site-specifically in a wider sense of the term. He creates a link to Sweden and local current debate regarding the situation for Romani people, showing two pieces made in Naples, 2008. The exhibition is also present in the city, spilling over onto billboards with the work 89 huicholes (2006).

Parallel to the exhibition at Magasin 3, Instituto Cervantes (the Spanish cultural institute in Stockholm) will also show Sierra’s works. One of them is Los Penetrados (2009) that had it’s premiere in Madrid in January.

Santiago Sierra has been creating socially critical actions since the mid 1990s. When he represented Spain at the Venice Biennale he bricked up the entrance to the Spanish pavilion. He has worked with drug addicts and prostitutes, and has created an income index related to skin color. By means of formal works or staged events, he exposes and calls attention to social conditions. In these works, people become objects that can be painted, used, and organized according to different hierarchies. Often seen with their backs to the viewer, they become anonymous examples of how human dignity is an economic privilege. The artist uses the titles of the works to describe precisely what we are seeing and thereby invites us to look beyond the form or the action being performed.

A catalogue will be published in connection with the exhibition. The catalogue features a text by Lisa Rosendahl, director of the Baltic Art Center in Visby, focused on vehicles, a reccuring theme in Sierra’s work and a text by curator Elisabeth Millqvist dealing with Sierra’s new works in the exhibition in relation to the port and related previous works.

Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art
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