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S i e r r a , q u o t e d i n S a n t i a g o S i e r r a : Wo r k s 2 0 0 2 – 1 9 9 0 ( B i r m i n g h a m , E n g l a n d : I k o n G a l l e r y,
2002), p. 15. 72 OCTOBER work through the dual lenses of Relat ional Aesthet ics and Hegemony in order to tease
out these differences further.
It has already been noted t hat Sierr a document s his act ions and t hereby
ensures that we know what he consider s their “structure” to be. Take, for example,
The Wall of a Galler y Pulled Out, Inclined Sixt y Degrees from the Ground and Sust ained by
Five People, Mexico Cit y (2000). Unlike Tiravanija and Gillick, who embrace an idea of
open- endedness, Sierra delimit s from the out set his choice of invited part icipant s
and the context in which the event t akes place. “Context” is a key word for Gillick
and Tiravanija, yet their work does litt le to address the problem of what a context
actually compr ises. (One has the impression that it exist s as undifferent iated inﬁnit y,
like cyber space.) Laclau and Mouffe argue that for a context to be const ituted and
ident iﬁed as such, it must demarcate cert ain limit s; it is from the exclusions engendered by this demarcat ion that ant agonism occur s. It is precisely this act of exclusion
t hat is disavowed in relat ional art’s preference for “open- endedness.”56 Sierra’s
act ions, by contrast , embed themselves into other “inst itut ions” (e.g., immigrat ion,
the minimum wage, trafﬁc congest ion, illegal street commerce, homelessness) in
order to highlight the divisions enforced by these context s. Crucially, however, Sierra
n e i t h e r p r e s e n t s t h e s e d i v i s i o n s a s r e c o n c i l e d ( i n t h e w a y Ti r a v a n i j a e l i d e s t h e
museum with the café or apartment), nor as ent irely separate spheres: the fact that
his works are realized moves them into the terrain of ant agonism (rather than the
“car crash” model of collision bet ween full ident it ies) and hint s that their boundar ies
are both unst able and open to change.
As Laclau argues, it is this “radical undecidabilit y,” and the decision that has to be t aken within this,
that is const itut ive of a polit ical societ y. See Laclau, Emancipat ion(s) (London: Ver so, 1996), pp. 52– 53. Sierra. Per sons Paid to Have Their Hair
Dyed Blond. Arsenale, Venice Biennale, 2001.
Courtesy Lisson Galler y and the artist. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics 73 In a work for t he 2001 Venice Biennale, Persons Paid to Have Their Hair Dyed
Blond, Sierr a inv ited illegal st reet vendor s, most of whom came from sout hern
It aly or were immigr ant s from Senegal, China, and Bangladesh, to have t heir
hair dyed blond in return for 120,000 lire ($60). The only condit ion to t heir part icipat ion was t hat t heir hair be naturally dark. Sierra’s descr ipt ion of t he work
does not document t he impact of his act ion on t he days t hat followed t he mass
b l e a c h i n g , b u t t h i s a f t e r m a t h w a s a n i n t e g r a l a s p e c t o f t h e w o r k . 57 D u r i n g t h e
Venice Biennale, t h...
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This document was uploaded on 02/20/2014 for the course PHILOSOPHY 244 at University of Tennessee.
- Spring '09