New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Through September 29, $12-$18
If you missed Mika Rottenberg’s “Easypieces” at the New Museum, you still have a chance to catch Marta Minujín’s similarly immersive, astute, and funny “Menesunda Reloaded,” continuing through September 29. The Buenos Aires-born Minujín, collaborating with Rubén Santantonín, debuted the participatory installation La Menesunda in 1965 at the Instituto Torcuato di Tella in her home city to huge acclaim, with long lines of eager art lovers waiting for their chance to go inside the multimedia labyrinth and experience the unique happening, one at a time. “‘LA MENESUNDA’/is a caprice/a nonsense/way of creating difficult/strange/embarrassing ‘situations’/for those who are willing to accept them/INTENSIFYING EXISTENCE/beyond gods and ideas/feelings/mandates and desires,” the pamphlet at the opening described.
You’ll have to wait in line at the New Museum as well, but it moves pretty quickly as people make their way up and down stairs and into a series of rooms Minujín, who was only in her early twenties when she made the piece, calls “The Woman’s Head,” “The TV Tunnel,” “The Intestines,” “The Swamp,” “The Rotating Basket,” and “The Forest of Forms and Textures,” among others. Each space offers different types of interactions as visitors can see themselves on an old television monitor, watch a couple in bed, get a schpritz from a makeup artist, and navigate through glowing neon, soft sculptures, and a mirrored area with confetti. The exhibition is supplemented with a black-and-white documentary of people going through the original installation, but avoid watching it until after you come out so it doesn’t ruin any of the surprises.
Now seventy-six, Minujín counted among her friends and colleagues Claes Oldenburg, Allan Kaprow, Carolee Schneemann, Christo, and Andy Warhol and has constructed such other immersive environments as El Batacazo, The Academy of Failure, and Eróticos en Technicolor. She is quite a character, as she reveals in a catalog interview with Helga Christofferson and Massimiliano Gioni in which she touts her success and large ego, declares her work is not spectacle-driven, and explains why she hasn’t gone to a doctor since the birth of her daughter. When asked if La Menesunda was purposely designed so that it was possible for people to exit before seeing every room, she responds, “Yes. I always liked the idea that something is missing. For instance, I am very famous in Argentina, so I signed a dollar with the statement: ‘Take me, I am yours.’ People would then have to think about whether they wanted to sell the dollar with my signature on it, or use it. It’s like if you found a dollar bill signed by Andy Warhol in New York, would you sell it, keep it to sell it later, or spend it? I always want to create that kind of situation. That’s what I like about art: to wake up senses and ideas, to wake people up from their everyday lives, to wake up feelings they’ve never felt before.” Anticipating Instagram-friendly pop-up galleries and the need for publicly-announced instant gratification, La Menesunda accomplishes all that and more.