“I was always a genius, since I was a girl”: Marta Minujin received an honorary doctorate from the Di Tella University

(Photo: Luciano González)

The sobriety of the classroom is altered by the presence of Marta Minujin. All the colors of the world fit in your outfit; the rest is reflected in the Ray Ban that protect your gaze. “Hello, well, how are you, I love that you are all here, those who are and those who are not, I just know they will be”, are the first words – all together, tied, like a phrase without punctuation marks – that The acclaimed 78-year-old Argentine artist, a symbol of the avant-garde, pronounces that yesterday, around seven in the afternoon, received the doctorate Honoris Causa from the Torcuato Di Tella University.

It was on the fourth floor of the building located in Figueroa Alcorta, in front of the Monumental, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, in a classroom with exaggerated geometry. Authorities of the institution, artists, students were present; also the Minister of Culture of the Nation Tristan Bauer. The applause fell like a waterfall in front of the creator of works such as La Menesunda, The destruction, Cabbages, The obelisk of sweet bread, Carlos Gardel of fire, The payment of the foreign debt, The Parthenon of books, Venus de Milo falling, Payment of the Greek debt to Germany with olives and art, Young Hellenic fragmenting and Implosion!

The first to speak was Carlos Franck, engineer, collector and president of the Board of Directors. She said that Minujin’s doctorate was approved “unanimously” and stressed that “she is the first woman to whom we give this title, now that the issue of gender is fashionable.” The rector also spoke Juan Jose Cruces. He chose a series of words to define the honored artist: irreverence, ambition, optimism, commitment, innovation. “Marta retains these characteristics and I believe that in that sense she marks a path for us as a society that is absolutely timely and sudden to rescue,” he said.

(Photo: Luciano González)
(Photo: Luciano González)

But it was Carlos Huffman, visual artist and director of the Di Tella Art Department, who delved into the trajectory of Marta Minujin: “It worked on the edge of discursive trends”, it was “a precursor of what we call performance”, “it contributed to the popular movement”, years ago “it reached the heights of legitimation and visibility” and never abandoned “its critical conception against anything that tries to dispense with art ”. Once the diploma was awarded, Huffman himself spoke with her about her extensive career that began in 1959, at the Agón Theater, and grew up in the heat of the eccentric and the great.

“The Di Tella Institute always believed in us, in a whole group of people who had the logical ideas of having been twenty years old in the sixties”, he said about the “tremendous years”: “living three years in a place without a bathroom no heating in Paris ”or“ sleeping on the floor in New York and having almost no food for four years ”. “But he did great works that are recognized today. I couldn’t do anything else: either die or create ”, he explains in front of the audience made up of people in sober colors, some in suits, a flowery dress, but nothing, absolutely nothing, like those fluo tones — in his words: the color of their soul – radiating from his clothing.

(Photo: Luciano González)
(Photo: Luciano González)

“This award is for the future, so that the Nobel is not only for writers or poets. There is no Nobel Prize for art. The only one who won such an award was Picasso“He says about the Lenin of Peace that the Spanish obtained in 1962.” Plastic art is too much, it is for crazy people. When i did La Menesunda There were headlines in the newspapers that said ‘Is she crazy or moron?’ I have the clippings, ”he says and adds:“ I always considered that art was above politics, at another level, because artists can see the future and mark a path of creativity: each person is a creator, you have to realize it and also have the strength to carry it out ”.

“Every artist who feels like a genius has to be a genius. I think it’s great that at this moment they give an award to a woman, since then the whole women’s revolution came. When I arrived in New York, women were still banned from the Whitney Museum, so much so that a Whitney bought the museum to be invited to the Biennale. And I helped there to picket the door. But I was never so interested in that of women because I think that genius does not have sex, it is in the air; there is not even a need to point out that a woman did it or a man did it: art does not have sex ”, he maintains.

In the process of creation, always in contact with the massive, Minujin weaves his spiritual ties with the conjuncture. “I listen to news all day,” he says. “Before I listened to classical music, now what I listen to all the time while I work is news, news, news. I always thought that journalists, who are so skilled in everything they do, are also artists. I think the Honoris Causa next time should be for a journalist “, he slides and adds that his interest, in reference to the link with the mass, was always in” working with the illiterate, those who have no knowledge through school or the university ”.

(Photo: Luciano González)
(Photo: Luciano González)

“What happened until the year 65 is that elegant people went to museums, galleries, very well dressed ladies, gentlemen. So when we did La Menesunda People made such a queue that it reached Córdoba Avenue and ladies came with chickens in their bags, they went to the fair and then they came to Di Tella. There Di Tella became popular. Later, when the Institute closed, they called me Marta Di Tella ”, he recalls.

“I was always interested in people as a subject, the mass. In that sense I connect a lot with rock musicians. My great friends have been more rock musicians than plastic artists. The plastic artist is more elitist; what the rock musician wants is to infect people. But you can be my new friend ”, he told Carlos Huffman with a smile.

“I was always interested in popular mass,” he insists, “a woman who moves the pots from the window, who moves them from place, or who puts a jar there, is already creating. We are all creators. People’s lives would be much more interesting if they believed themselves to be creators. Especially with good vibes ”.

(Photo: Luciano González)
(Photo: Luciano González)

At the end, when Huffman asked him for a message for the young artists, the students, he began by saying: “To a certain extent, art has loneliness. You have to live loneliness. Do not look at art magazines or google so much, on the contrary: look inside and take out what you have, which is different in each person ”.

Then he gives a categorical definition: “I think there are very good painters and excellent sculptors but very few artists in the world. The artist has to realize that he is a genius and that he has the obligation to materialize as a genius ”.

“I think I was always a genius, since I was a child … I am,” and she smiles and the applause falls like a waterfall. She is in the center, unchanging, receiving academic and popular recognition – how many artists in the history of our country achieved that combo? – with her fluo, her mirrored glasses and an immaculate pride.

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“I was always a genius, since I was a girl”: Marta Minujin received an honorary doctorate from the Di Tella University

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