Manchuria:Peripheral Vision-A Felipe Ehrenberg Retrospective
Manchuria: Peripheral Vision—A Felipe Ehrenberg Retrospective on view beginning on May 23 and running through August 15, is an exhibition of multimedia works created by Felipe Ehrenberg, one of Mexico’s most influential conceptual artists. The 50 year survey of 200 works curated by Fernando Llanos explores Ehrenberg’s contribution to a postmodern aesthetic of conceptual, performance, installation and video art from the 1960s to the present.
Felipe Ehrenberg (Mexico, b. 1943) studied printmaking and was taught by Mexican masters, Jose Chavez Morado and Mathias Goertiz. However, he is best recognized for his involvement with the Fluxus movement, an international network of artists acknowledged as proponents of conceptual and performance art. In London, he and British artist David Mayor, founded the independent, artists’ press, Beau Geste Press (1971-1974). During that time Ehrenberg also became famous for his performance piece, A Date with Fate at the Tate, the first conceptual work (an audio recording documentation) to be represented in the Tate Modern collection.
In the mid-1970s, Ehrenberg returned to Mexico and formed several local artists groups. The most significant of these was Grupo Proceso Pentágono whose artists are recognized as the pioneers of Mexican conceptual art. By incorporating social initiatives with his artistic concerns, Ehrenberg formed an artist group of teachers who aided local communities to use mural art as a public voice. Gaining attention in the United States, he earned a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976), and a Fulbright Lecture Award (1988) and he was an artist-in-residence at Nexus Press, Atlanta, Georgia (1990). He was invited to create several installation works, at the University of Austin, Texas (1990), for the San Diego/Tijuana border initiative, InSite’94 and InSite’97, and for Configura-2 in Germany (1995). These works were all charged with social, cultural and political issues about the laborer, indigenous traditions and multiculturalism. Ehrenberg’s 1995 installation Tzompantli, a Mesoamerican skull rack of 15th century wooded beams and human craniums was the first work of installation art acquired by the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City.
Through Ehrenberg’s visual dialogue, the exhibition’s narrative discourse offers a historic review of the postmodern paradigms of blurred borders, the dismantling of institutional structures and the undermining of master narratives. His exploration of the unorthodox, the innovative and the experimental are revealed in his textual and visual binaries’ of anarchism and resistance and empowerment and engagement. Ehrenberg’s practice has informed several generations of artists. Guillermo Gómez-Peña, California’s seminal Mexican performance artist describes Ehrenberg in his Manchuria exhibition catalog essay (2007) as, “his padrino conceptual, conceptual ‘goD.F.ather’ who has left a mark on three generations of rebellious artists in different countries.”
Felipe Ehrenberg, circa 1966 Instantáneas Fotomatic
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