The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
(BAM/PFA) presents Mario García Torres: Je ne sais si cen est la cause, What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Stronger, and Some Reference Materials, which features work by an artist who communes with earlier generations of artistsparticularly conceptual artiststhrough a variety of means. García Torres repeats or reperforms the original gestures of these artists, obsessively researching and representing documentation of their work, and in some cases imagining conversations with deceased artists. His work looks to recent history, in both its anecdotal and official articulations, to make connections between the present moment and these artists of past generations who, in his words, were fundamentally trying to legitimatize a different way of conceiving art. Mario García Torres: Je ne sais si cen est la cause, What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Stronger, and Some Reference Materials, which is curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas and is the artists first solo exhibition in the United States, opens February 22 and runs through May 17, 2009.
The exhibition includes two works. What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Stronger takes the form of a subtitled slideshow to chronicle García Torress attempt to revive the Museum of Modern Art Syros (MOMAS), initiated by the artist Martin Kippenberger in an abandoned building on the Greek island in 1993. Similarly, Je ne sais si cen est la cause, a new commission, has a little of the character of a travelogue, with images of distant places tied to anecdotal occurrences. In this case, instead of subtitles, he uses the device of the folk song to construct an alternative lore surrounding the creation of murals by the artist Daniel Buren at a resort hotel in the US Virgin Islands.
García Torres has spent years researching these murals, piecing together facts from various sources and traveling to the abandoned site to experience and document the murals firsthand and trace anecdotal information about the hotels troubled history. He has unearthed archival materials, from the few extant photographs of the murals at the time of their making, to Burens disparaging letter to his family, to a record made by the hotel with the famous steel band musician Pedrito Altieri in a blatant promotional effort. García Torress resulting work narrates the history of the project through the reframing of fragmentsobjects culled during his research, a tropically inflected pop song composed of one of Burens letters (created with musician Mario López Landa), slideshows of the murals in situ. His subjective documentary approach presents this work not as an isolated instance in Burens career, but as inextricably tied to questions about European influence in the Americas, and how the context of landscape and tourism informs these proto-conceptual works. In all his work, he approaches historical episodes with a deeply subjective sense of the documentary. His interest is not solely in reconstructing obscure incidents, but in the operations of recollection and mythmaking on quieter, almost cameo-like narratives from the recent past that have not been solidified, canonized, classified, and codified by history.
Mario Garcia Torres was born in 1975 in Monclova, Mexico, and is now based in Los Angeles, California. Solo exhibitions include Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kunsthalle Zurich; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He has participated in group exhibitions at venues such as CAC Vilnius; Yokohama Triennale 2008; De Appel, Amsterdam; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Barbican Gallery, London; 52nd Biennale di Venezia; Frankfurter Kunstverein; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris; MCA Chicago; Tate Modern, London; Artists Space, New York; and the 2nd Moscow Biennale. He was the recipient of the Cartier Award at the Frieze Art Fair in 2007. He received his B.F.A. from the Universidad de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza García, Mexico, and his M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California.
Mario Garcia Torress solo exhibition, as part of The Show Formerly Known As Passengers, will be on display at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco from July 7 to August 1, 2009. On view will be a selection of earlier works that made ground for the new commission presented as part of his MATRIX exhibition.