Programa Público

Stephen Prina sobre su exposición en el Museo Tamayo

Stephen Prina sobre su exposición en el Museo Tamayo

Programa Público
Andrés Valtierra - Curador asociado
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English for Foreigners es la segunda exposición biográfica del artista Stephen Prina, esta segunda exposición traza la relación entre el artista y su padre utilizando como punto de partida el libro Second Book in English for Foreigners in Evening Schools (Segundo libro en inglés para extranjeros en escuelas vespertinas) de Frederick Houghton, una de las pertenencias que el artista heredó de su padre. Peter/Pietro Prina usó este libro para aprender inglés tras su llegada a Estados Unidos en 1923. El libro de texto incluye un frontispicio y cuarenta y cinco imágenes que, aun sin leyendas, conforman un manual para convertir al inmigrante en un ciudadano modelo.

En conversación con Andrés Valtierra, coordinador de la exposición, Prina habla del momento en el que se encontró con ese libro, de la importancia de la música en su obra y de cómo los espacios se vuelven parte de la exposición.

The relationship between artworks in an exhibition is an act of communication that determines how we perceive them. From this standpoint, it is also possible to think how given absences are vehicles of meaning. In other words, what does it entail to view artworks that are parallel to those that, due to general contingencies, one cannot visit in the space where they are displayed?

Stephen Prina filmed The Way He Always Wanted It II, 2008 in the Ford House, located in Aurora, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) and designed by Bruce Goff, an important figure of organic architecture in the United States. This work shows the house’s interiors—which is still privately owned—but steering clear of the stylized sequences one could find in documentaries on architecture. On the contrary, a computer-controlled camera takes prolonged shots that seem to follow a route based on the floor plan, rather than on the different objects that come into focus. The moving image presents angles that one would not usually encounter on a screen, but that feel closer to a physical stroll through space. Hence, the film suggests very particular perceptions of the architecture, almost subjective, and composes an account of the house that sways between the affective and a series of decisions involving chance.

A second aspect of the work is a musical composition that instrumentalists play within the house. This is an arrangement that Prina made from sketches of scores in Goff’s archive, who, until the age of thirty, also composed music while developing his architectural practice. In addition, Prina uses as lyrics fragments of letters addressed to Goff by his confidant, Richard San Jule. Music is a cardinal element of Stephen Prina’s practice, who includes sound components in many of his projects, just as he also delivers music presentations that do not necessarily derive from visual artworks. The exhibition at MT, English for Foreigners, includes music as well. Prina has a particular interest in how encountering several pieces in the same space determines the perception one has of them. However, this is a phenomenon that is not limited to artworks but is extended to any other piece of information the visitor processes while he or she walks through the galleries. In the same way, the characteristics of the architecture where a project is installed will be conclusive for its reading.

Showing the film The Way He Always Wanted It II introduces other ways in which Prina has tackled the prevailing subjects in his practice here discussed, thus highlighting some strategies present in English for Foreigners but that could sometimes operate inconspicuously. On the other hand, it confronts bodies of work created in different moments, which renders visible some continuities and divergences in the decisions that Prina has taken in producing his oeuvre. These explorations overlapping seemingly disconnected times are a recurrent exercise in this artist’s work. Different series interpolate other projects that, in appearance, respond to contrasting interests and processes. Within a conceptual framework for his practice, Prina brings together scenarios with diverse pieces of information that, while giving us clues for their interpretation, demand the viewer to establish chains of significance between them.

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