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The S-Files 2011


"¡Tomar, Tomar!” or “Take, Take!” implores performance artist Rafael Sánchez to a crowd of onlookers regarding the large wooden slats that form a cage around him. A video monitor reveals that the artist has just dragged said slats up “Museum Mile” in an homage to the seminal public performance “Superman 51” 1977 by artist Papo Colo. In Sánchez’ version, “Superman 51, 2011” the wooden beams, 51 in number and symbolic of each U.S. state plus Puerto Rico, aren’t just a burdensome reflection on inclusivity and sovereignty but become an actual public stockade. Embodying a “street as stage” sensibility, this work fits nicely into the 75 artist biennial survey “The S-Files 2011, The Street Files” put on by El Museo del Barrio, a portion of which is presently on view at Bric Rotunda Gallery (33 Clinton St.), incidentally the only Brooklyn institution to host a portion of it.

The gallery offers an ample selection of works along the “street aesthetic” line including graffiti inspired works by video artist René Juan de la Cruz and sculptor Carlos “MARE139” Rodríguez, however it is the performance art pieces, represented here by video documentation and physical remnants, that most engross. Primary among these is a playful riff on “For the Love of God”, Damian Hirst’s opulent platinum and diamond skull sculpture, by artists Las Hermanas Iglesias who replace Hirst’s 50 million £ artwork with a festive sparkly piñata. Titled, “Nothing Lasts Forever”, this papier mâché work subverts notions of luxury, class and high art in favor of sequins, culture and craft. Filled with candy coins, the consummation of this shower of “riches” needs only a spirited smack with a big stick. (through Jan. 7th)

—Enrico Gomez