The installation “Untitled” (Loverboy) at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion is part of the exhibition Felix Gonzalez-Torres: The Politics of Relation by MACBA. The adaptation of this piece, consisting in a blue cloth curtain that slightly touches the floor, in the architectural space and the petic sensuality which it introduces, opens our view not only to the featuret work but also to new reinterpretations of the Pavilion.
“Untitled” (Loverboy) 1989
Sheer blue fabric and hanging device
Dimensions vary with installation
Collection of Andrea Rosen
The installation “Untitled” (Loverboy) 1989 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (American, born Guáimaro, Cuba, 1957 – deceased, due to complications arising from AIDS, Miami, USA, 1996) is presented here as part of the exhibition Felix Gonzalez-Torres: The Politics of Relation, and is staged in collaboration with MACBA. The work comprises a curtain of sheer blue fabric that gently touches the floor; the colour blue has often stood for love or beauty, but also fear, in Gonzalez-Torres’ work. This installation introduces a poetic sensuality into the architectural space, always adapted to place where it is shown. The exhibition presents a political reading of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work in relation to postcolonial discourse and anti-fascist struggle, especially as it relates to Spain and the Americas, their shared histories and points of contact, and how these impact the personal sphere through questions of memory, authority, freedom and national identity. It also addresses the exemplary importance of Gonzalez-Torres’ work for queer aesthetics. These aspects are linked in the exhibition, for instance, through the dialogue between militarism and homoeroticism, and through Gonzalez-Torres’ engagement with the idea of the monument, which can be related to the histories of race, colonialism and fascism.
In 1971, Gonzalez-Torres encountered Spain directly when he was sent as a child with his sister from Cuba to Madrid, prior to settling with an uncle in Puerto Rico. He began his artistic training in Puerto Rico and relocated to New York to continue his studies. It was in New York that he established his career working both as a solo artist and as part of the collective Group Material. From the perspective of the exile’s shifting identity, his work speaks of a complex identity politics that resists the simplistic categorisations into which it is often subsumed and allows access to his work in the different contexts of Spain and Latin America. As someone who moved between contexts and identities, Gonzalez-Torres carefully addresses the complex encodings of a variable identity in his work. He repeatedly questioned and subverted categorisations that he saw as marginalising, but also the stereotype of the ‘Hispanic’ artist. During his lifetime, this encompassed Gonzalez-Torres’ removal of diacritical accents from his name—a gesture towards highlighting and subverting simplistic or discriminatory categorisations of identity. Instead, he aimed towards equality, while remaining aware that the act of looking is invested with identity. In this sense, he viewed aesthetics as inherently political. Following the thinking of Martinican writer and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928–2011), the exhibition emphasises the conceptual openness of Gonzalez-Torres’ work as a political commitment, which parallels Glissant’s position through a shared emphasis on mutability, and through the dynamics as well as the poetics of relation, which could thus also encompass the politics of relation.