Why do we break with some traditions and perpetuate others? Artists in this episode use life experiences and family heritage to explore new aesthetic terrain.
Tania Bruguera explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change, staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and understanding of the politics of repression and control. Her work advances the concept of arte útil, according to which art can be used as a tool for social and political empowerment. Abraham Cruzvillegas works in his Mexico City studio and at exhibitions in Paris and Minneapolis to assemble sculptures and installations from found objects and disparate materials, through which he explores the effects of improvisation, transformation, and decay. His experiments with video, performance, family archives, and academic research reveal the deep connection between his identity, born of the harsh realities of his family’s life in Mexico, and his artistic practice. Inspired by the teachings of Laotzi, by the modern artist Brancusi, and by formative experiences with his family in Germany and India, Wolfgang Laib's sculptures seem to connect the past and present, the ephemeral and eternal. His attention to human scale, duration of time, and his choice of materials give his works the power to transport us to unexpected realms of memory, sensory pleasure, and contemplation.