Stefan Brüggemann

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Visual Arts (installation art)
America, Central
Mexico City
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May 31, 2003
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Intellectualizing the Void in Institutional Critique

Stefan Brüggemann was born in Mexico City in 1975 and has been exhibiting both in Mexico and abroad since the mid-1990s. He is part of a young group of artists working in Mexico today that has attracted much recent international attention for their irreverent, radical, and often collaborative approaches to art production. He works with and through established systems of institutional critique and conceptual art, but alters their canonical approaches to art production to allow ambiguity, irony, and play to enter the works. Brüggemann lives and works in Mexico City.
Using all media, Brüggemann’s works often consist of small gestures, additions, or alterations to a given space, medium, or genre. At a solo exhibition at the Museo Carillo Gil in Mexico City, Brüggemann produced “Parking Lot” (1998) by carefully replicating the signage, divisions, and traffic information usually painted on the floor of parking garages onto the roof of the museum. By visually turning the roof of the museum into a parking lot, Brüggemann not only answered to the complaints of many museum visitors, who often suggested in the visitor’s book that the museum does not provide enough parking, he also carried out what could best be described as an almost canonical gesture of institutional critique. In the same year, Brüggemann produced “Opening” (1998) for the Museum of Installation in London. For this work, he carefully removed the big pane of glass that makes up the front store window of the main exhibition space of the Museum of Installation, and leaned it against the length of the exhibition room. Still containing all the information it would usually display to the passer-by, such as the name and the duration of the show, the window was neither functional as an advertisement nor as a climate and security barrier and instead was rendered into an esthetic object for the duration of the exhibition. For another exhibition at the Museum of Installation in 2001, Brüggemann displayed a neon sign spelling out: “This is not Supposed to be Here” (2001).

In 2000, for the exhibition “Promo” in Mexico City, which consisted of several billboards throughout the city that both advertised and made up the exhibition, Brüggemann produced a billboard that presented the image of a young beautiful woman lounging in a car’s interior. The work’s title, “Cutlass 92, automatic, 4 doors, electric, air conditioning, 135.000 km, cherry velour upholstery” (2000), identified the car as a standard second-hand model which could be listed any given day in the classified sections of a local newspaper. Through the conflation of image, title, and mode of display, Brüggemann produced a set of displacements that unhinge each element and precisely mirror the circular referentiality of the exhibition’s initial premise. The billboard-size image could be seen as yet another example of the monumentalization of personal experience, reminiscent of photographic practices such as those of Nan Goldin or Wolfgang Tillmans, were it not for the title that identifies the work as a car advertisement. By using the strategies of corporate advertisement—add a beautiful woman to whatever you want to sell—and display technology, the title also thwarts the function of the billboard by rendering its news value void.

The importance of titles as contextual markers and important tools in positioning a work’s sphere of influence is at the center of another work by Brüggemann. “Show Titles” (2000/01) is a list of 100 possible titles for exhibitions. One of them, “Zebra Crossing,” was selected as the title for an exhibition at the House of World Cultures in Berlin. Other suggested titles include ironic catch words such as “One Hundred Dutch Teenage Girls,” “Boring,” or “Unproductivism.” Other titles are thinly veiled references to art history, such as “Why Didn’t You Make it Larger,” and “Why Didn’t You Make it Smaller,” the famous questions for Tony Smith about his sculpture “Die” (1962) that served as a motto to Robert Morris’ text “Notes on Sculpture” and were quoted in Michael Fried’s seminal review of Minimalism, “Art and Objecthood.” His irreverent citation of important movements, concepts, or quotes from recent art history combined with his ridicule of intellectual pompousness place Brüggemann’s work in a liminal zone, suspended between sincere criticism and a defiant gesture of humor or cynicism.
Author: Christian Rattemeyer


Date of birth: 15.09.1975 (Mexico City)

The artist lives and works in Mexiko City. He is the director of the Programa Art Center in Mexiko City.


Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Off Key”, Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland "Glasgow International 2005“, Glasgow International, Glasgow, Scotland 2004 "Sólo los personajes cambian”, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey - MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico "White Noise“, Gallery at REDCAT, Los Angeles, USA "Only Characters Change”, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Monterrey, Mexico "Rimbaud”, I-20 Gallery, New York, USA 2003 "To be Political it has to Look Nice”, Pablo León de la Barra apexart, New York, USA "Prague Biennial 1“, Prague Biennial, Prague, Czechia 2002 "Demonstration Room, Ideal House”, Gallery 400, Chicago, USA 2001 "Demonstration Room, Ideal House”, Programa Art Center, New York, USA "Tendencias”, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico "Vanishing City”, Programa Art Center, Mexico City, Mexico "Las Molestias son Temporales”, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "La Persistencia de la Imagen”, Artsonje Center, Seoul, Korea "White noise, white silence”, Programa Art Center, Mexico City, Mexico 2000 "Demonstration Room, Ideal House”, Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas Venezuela "2do Festival de Arte Sonoro”, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico "Promo”, Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, Mexico "Box Project”, Turntike Gallery, Manchester, England 1999 "Myself and my Surroundings”, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada "Bad Photographer, Site-Specific Project”, Encamera Studios, Mexico City, Mexico "Blind Spot”, Art & Idea, Mexico City, Mexico "Group Show”, Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, Mexico 1998 "Made in Mexico/Made in Venezuela”, Art Metropole, Toronto, Canada "Regina 51 3er Piso”, Expoarte, Guadalajara, Mexico "Song 2”, Zacatecas Nr. 89, Mexico City, Mexico

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2004 "Stefan Brüggemann”, I-20 Gallery, New York, USA 2002 "Stefan Brüggemann“, Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, Mexico 2001 "This is not Supposed to be here“, Museum of Installation, London, England "Unproductive”, O.P.A., Guadalajara, Mexico 2000 "Wallpaper Site Specific Project“, Museo Alejandro Otero, Mexico City, Mexico 1998 "Parking Lot“, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "Opening“, Museum of Installation, London, England "Labels Site Specific Window”, San Martins School of Art & Design, London, England 1997 "Specific Conceptional Actions”, Galería Cruce, Madrid, Spain


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

The Mexico-festival in Berlin

(15 September 02 - 01 December 02)
This Doesn´t Belong Here
Over View