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Person Saying a Phrase, 2002

New Street. Birmingham, United Kingdom

A person begging for money in the city’s busiest shopping street was hired to say a phrase in front of a video camera. The phrase was: "My participation in this project could generate $72,000 profit. I am paid £5."

Santiago Sierra, Person Saying a Phrase, New Street. Birmingham, United Kingdom, August 2002, archival pigment print (2 Parts)
Santiago Sierra, Person Saying a Phrase, New Street. Birmingham, United Kingdom, August 2002, archival pigment print (2 Parts)

archival pigment print (2 Parts)

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Santiago Sierra

Santiago Sierra's oeuvre stands out from the art history of the past 30 years like a massive black monolith. The Spaniard, who was born in 1966 and also lived in Latin America, knows like no other how to use the established forms and rules of contemporary art to give the violence and injustice of Western modernity a face - a face that is our own. The formal language of minimalism, in its distanced, cool way, is particularly suited to being short-circuited with the abstract economic and institutional apparatuses that bind people into the dehumanized conditions of production, migration, (self-)exploitation, and stigmatization. Those conditions, in other words, that guarantee the privileges of most of the viewers to whom Sierra's work addresses itself in the art world. Not everyone likes that. Sierra is the living shadow in the repressed bad conscience of power and money, with which people rule over people. His work has been honored institutionally many times, and in 2003 he represented Spain at the Venice Biennale.



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