artist / participant
Mario Garcia Torres approaches his work with a playful – and sometimes nostalgic – take on the history of Conceptual art, unlocking many of its forgotten narratives to bring forth new ideas and meanings. Through his interventions, slide projections, films and installations, Garcia Torres rethinks the tradition in a more personal way, animating events in recent history with a curiosity that is both critical and sensual. An archaeologist of cultural history, Garcia Torres is developing an aesthetics of information.
What Happens in Halifax Stays in Halifax (in 36 Slides) (2004-2006) revisits a half-buried moment in the history of Conceptual art. In 1969, David Askevold, at the time an instructor at Halifax's NSCAD University, asked his students to enact a Robert Barry project that required the students to keep a secret. Garcia Torres arranged a reunion of some of the students who participated in the original occasion, and the documentation of this event, along with black-and-white photographs of Halifax's mundane cityscape and sites associated with the project, became the final public presentation of the work. The photographs are subtitled; work and image combine to form a kind of essay on the limits of memory and immateriality. For What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger (2007), Garcia Torres examined Martin Kippenberger’s attempts to establish a Modern Art Museum on the Greek island of Syros, creating a discursive portrait – half travel log, half proposal – of one of the more quixotic episodes in the history of contemporary art.
Other works go beyond Garcia Torres’s interest in Conceptual art. A Brief History of Jimmie Johnson's Legacy (2006) is based on a character in Jean Luc Godard’s nouvelle vague classic Bande à Part – a Jimmie Johnson who purportedly held the record for the fastest tour of the Louvre. Garcia Torres re-enacted a scene in the film in which three people challenge this record, filming his characters running through the halls of the Museu Nacional de Arte, Mexico City. The resulting work is a hybrid between homage, performance and documentary film. In 2004, he began a long-term project called I Promise . . ., a work that monitors his daily practice as an artist. Whenever he stays in a hotel, he uses the hotel stationery to write a variation on this note: ‘I promise to do my best as an artist, at least for the next [period of time] ‘ The promise is always signed and dated, but the period of time fluctuates depending on the artist’s mood. The work demands that Garcia Torres write a letter to the owner of the piece each time he stays in a hotel. Recently, the artist collaborated with musician Mario Lopez Landa to record a melancholy folk song based on the work, called ‘I Promise Every Time’.
Mario Garcia Torres was born in 1975 in Monclova, Mexico and is now based in Los Angeles, California. He has exhibited in many group and solo exhibitions, including the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (2008), Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2007), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2007), Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2007), Venice Biennale (2007), Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004, 2005 and 2007), MCA Chicago (2007), Tate Modern, London (2007) and the Moscow Biennale (2007). He was the recipient of the Cartier Award at the Frieze Art Fair (2007).
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Mario Garcia Torres