To his fans he's the Che Guevara of modern art. To his detractors his work is reviled for being grotesquely exploitative.
Now the latest work of Santiago Sierra is on at a gallery in east Auckland starting this weekend.
In the year 2000 the Spanish artist made his work entitled Ten inch line shaved on the heads of two junkies who received a shot of heroin as payment.
The name says it all.
Human desperation appears to be his canvas - once paying prostitutes to have a foot long line tattooed on their backs.
While he's not here to see his latest work shown Te Tuhi Gallery in Pakuranga, I'm told he came a few years back staging an impromptu performance, paying a tramp in Wellington to expose himself.
James McCarthy is the Te Tuhi Gallery director and has an interest in Sierra.
“He is so dedicated to the essences of what the works are about. If he tattoos a line on the back of prostitutes he pays them in heroin - the economy in which they come from.”
Now the good people of Pakuranga can breathe a sign of relief. His new work Destroyed Word is all done in the best possible taste. But it's still an attack on putting money above people.
From the rainforests of Papua New Guinea to the streets of Melbourne and eight other locations world wide, the letters of the word capitalism with a “K” were smashed to smithereens - the east Auckland gallery blowing away an “A” made of milk bottles with gunfire.
“At the time there was a lot of media coverage of the price of milk in New Zealand and seeing as it's the third largest dairy industry in the world we thought it would be a fitting product to use and destroy,” McCarthy says.
Whilst railing against the system, Sierra knows he's part of it - choosing to outsource the project like all good multinationals.
“Everyone becomes involved in the labour of the work and is exploited in some way as I’m exploiting you.”
source: newshub archive