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The Waiting Room

Artist’s statement: Although I have been working on installations since 1968, it is only since 1983 that I have started focusing on imprisonment. That year I worked on torture, particularly on the version practiced by the Uruguayan dictatorship during the ’70s and early ’80s. Through the use of evocative rather than descriptive stimuli, I tried to blend the perceptions of the torturer, of the victim and of the public with the purpose of blurring borderlines between their respective roles. In 1988, with democracy restored, I was invited to represent Uruguay at the Venice Biennale. This time I explored the parallel between the experience of a political prisoner and that of an artist. According to their disposition, viewers could interpret the installation in one of two ways. On the one hand, the pieces might be seen as works by an artist who believed himself to be free. He sought originality, but failed in his quest, imprisoned by stereotypes and aesthetic styles. On the other hand, the installation could be compared to the world of a political prisoner. The pieces, from this viewpoint, were hallucinations of freedom. Here too, they failed, since the author remained caught forever in his acute awareness of the cell. The image of the jail as a metaphor for the artist’s self-deception still preoccupies me and I continue to explore it. Ultimately we live imprisoned in our bodies, constrained by the strict rules that determine our acquisition of knowledge, and with our imaginations confined by a web of cultural conventions. Life in that sense is a jail and physical prisons no more than small, uncomfortable illustrations of that congenital problem. Making art is scratching traces on the wall to mark the passing of time.

Date

24 September – 07 November 1999