“Feliza Bursztyn: Welding Madness” is the first museum retrospective of Colombian artist Feliza Bursztyn to be presented outside of her home country. Bringing together approximately 50 sculptures, films and installations as well as archival material, most of which are shown for the first time in Europe, this ambitious, career-spanning survey positions Bursztyn as one of Latin America’s most important sculptors of the 20th century.
Feliza Bursztyn was a pioneering Colombian artist whose kinetic sculptures revolutionised the South American art alongside the work of her better-known contemporaries Gego and Mira Schendel. Bursztyn created her works using discarded fragments of machines, tires, cables and other metal bits adding—with time—hand-dyed fabrics, motors, light and sound to produce increasingly complex, room-sized installations. Eventually, she produced immersive, experiential spaces: her sculptures clung to walls, hung from ceilings or perched on stages and carried out choreographed dances set to music in dramatically lit and adorned rooms. Throughout her career, the artist combined and interrogated ideas about art, machines, craft, modernity and labour through the lens of hysteria—a term which since the 19th century has been used to describe female instability, abnormality and emotional excess. Bursztyn deployed the notion and tropes of madness to explore the irrationalities, fragilities and ambiguities of modern life.
The one-day symposium devoted to the work of Feliza Bursztyn, organised as part of the exhibition, and accompanying the launch of the first monographic book devoted to the artist and published with Skira Editore is an attempt to offer a much-needed history of this vibrant body of work. The symposium will se the participation of Marta Dziewańska, curator at Kunstmuseum Bern; Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, art historian and curator of modern and contemporary art, with a focus on Latin American and Latinx art; Pierre-Henri Foulon, curator at Muzeum Susch; Camilo Leyva, artist, researcher and curator of a monographic show devoted to Feliza Bursztyn and presented at Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá in 2009; Agnieszka Sosnowska, assistant professor at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Science, curator of the publishing and discursive programme at Muzeum Susch; Sylvia Suárez, curator and writer specialised in Colombian art; Gina McDaniel Tarver, associate professor of art history at Texas State University, with a focus on Latin America; Abigail Winograd, the MacArthur Fellows Program 40th Anniversary Exhibition Curator at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Lynn Zelevansky, art historian, former curator at the painting and sculpture department at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and former director of Carnegie Museum of Art