Photo via Estilo Superarte 1000

The Argentine queen of happenings is making a comeback tonight at the Modern Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MAMBA).

In 1965, at the di Tella institute, San Telmo-born Marta Minujín put together a conceptual-psychedelic piece named La Menesunda, which in lunfardo, strikes a mid-point between ‘mayhem’, ‘blend’ or ‘confusion’. The idea was for viewers to make their way through chambers, led by neon signs, each divided by humanly shaped entrances. This is when it gets a little wild and weird. During his or her journey through the artist’s imagination, the viewer-turned-participant would come face to face with television screens on full volume, couples having sex, a beauty counter (hello product placement) with an assistant, a walk-in freezer with what would appear to be dangling fabric in the shape of raw beef, and of course a room full of mirrors. Because nothing screams modern art more than a room full of mirrors. At this point, for the bouquet final, our presumably petrified or at the very least ever-so-slightly disturbed participant would be shot at with confetti and sprayed with food frying odors to ensure all his or her senses got a full dose of stimulation. I guess calling it La Menesunda was the most sensical aspect of the piece. Mayhem it sure is.

To think that our 21st century icon is a woman who displayed a freshly shagged-on bed as a piece of art… 

Thankfully for us, the MAMBA is spending some of its artsy fortune on ensuring that those art lovers whose parents weren’t even in the womb in 1965 can experience La Menesunda too, 50 years on, under the name of Mayhem according to Marta Minujín (La Menesunda según Marta Minujín).

Today the exhibition embodies the material, sensory and symbolic relations that made it such a hit half a century ago. It will be interesting to see how participants interpret the piece and react to it so many years later given the context in which we have been raised. Ironically, I fret that the war-stoppers and love-makers of the 60s would have actually been more open to this kind of art than some of the backward thinking morons scenesters we seem to be surrounded by today.

50 years ago the multi-sensory work of art carried multiple meanings and interpretations, making it a central piece and milestone in the history of the Argentine artistic and cultural imagination. It was the scandal of the year. It caused surprise and provocation. Today, the MAMBA exposes us to an experience which forces us to rethink the legendary weight carried by the original piece, or rather show. Accordingly, this reconstruction “invites us to interpret the past while arousing thoughts and feelings in a contemporary context.”

Quirky night out or cultural day at the gallery? Tripping' balls (Photo via straitstimes.com)
Night out at Glastonbury’s Shangri-La or cultural day at the gallery? Tripping balls (Photo via straitstimes.com)

It starts tonight, October 8th at 6PM and will be going Tuesdays through Sundays until November 30th. That menas don’t try to go on a Monday! Do try extra hard to go on a Tuesday because there is no entry fee. Every other day you’ll be charged AR$ 20.

Similar to the disappointment one might feel if they try to go on a Monday, I can’t help but feel pretty bummed that we can’t be graced by Brian Sewell’s critiques.

That said, perhaps we’re better off not knowing what he would have thought of this one.