[…] the Sheridan Square piece rejects a conventional ‘political’ roll-call of heroic achievements, and presents history in a far more complex way, out of chronological order, melding different types of events from the murder of gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk to the formation of communitybased organizations in response to HIV/AIDS. History is thus specifically not presented as a seamless progressive narrative, expressing some supposedly unified historical force or will. Rather, events and institutions coexist, as in memory, in no particular order or sequence beyond that of our own active interpretive making. The ‘private’ defiantly invades ‘public’ space. (x)
Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) 1991
“This installation is an allegorical portrait of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991. The 175 pounds of candy can be seen to correspond to Laycock’s ideal body weight. Adult visitors are invited to take a piece of candy; the diminishing pile parallels Laycock’s weight loss prior to his death. The museum can choose to replenish the pile, metaphorically ensuring Laycock perpetual life, or to let the pile disappear over time.”
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Blue Mirror), print on paper, endless copies, 1990
“While making clear references to the industrial, obdurate objects of Minimalism, Gonzalez-Torres’ stack pieces are printed with monochromatic colours, textual snippets, reproduced newspaper clippings, or photographs of natural landscapes, often of the sky.”
Cuban-born Felix Gonzalez-Torres first came to New York in 1979 as a student, and he continued to live in the US until his untimely death from AIDS in Miami in 1996. He became known for a poetic brand of Conceptual art-making that confronted themes of queerness and mourning in the era of the AIDS crisis. Learn about Gonzalez-Torres and other immigrant artists: mo.ma/crossingborders.
Our digital exhibition “Crossing Borders,” presented as part of our #CitizensBorders initiative, showcases works from MoMA’s collection by artists who immigrated to the U.S., often as refugees in search of safe haven. Explore all the works at mo.ma/crossingborders.
Don’t be afraid of the clocks, they are our time, time has been so generous to us. We imprinted time with the sweet taste of victory. We conquered fate by meeting at a certain time in a certain space. We are a product of the time, therefore we give back credit were it is due: time. We are synchronized, now and forever. I love you.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born on this day in 1957. Installations of his “Untitled” (America) can vary: composed of twelve strings of light bulbs, the work can be shown inside or outside, in an unlimited range of configurations. This work is one of a number by Gonzalez-Torres that includes the word “America” in its title. The light from the bulbs might resonate as cheerful in one context and melancholy in another, leaving viewers to reflect on their own associations with the idea of “America.”