Image: Pedro Reyes, Baby Marx pilot in production , 2009. Mexico City installation, puppets. Image courtesy Detalle Films and Yvon Lambert.
Walker Art Center
August 11-November 27, 2011
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
The Walker presents the latest phase and first US exhibition of Baby Marx, an ongoing project by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes that looks at the potential for mass entertainment to operate as a radical educational tool. An architect by training, Reyes works across platforms and disciplines-including design, installation, and video-to explore sites and scenarios of collective interaction. Originally conceived for television, Baby Marx is set in a small town library where a group of precocious children have brought Karl Marx and Adam Smith back to life by zapping their influential books in a glitch-prone "Smart-O-Wave" microwave oven. The founders of communism and the free market confront each other haunted by the latest global economic crisis.
Over the course of several years, Reyes collaborated with screenwriters, academics, producers and Japanese puppeteers to develop the characters and plot for Baby Marx. Though satisfied with the initial results, the artist became frustrated with the rigid confines of TV comedy, where jokes must occur only seconds apart, and by the limitations such demands place on television as an educational tool. He realized that by shifting focus to filmmaking he could retain greater freedom in production and distribution as well as introduce a variety of stylistic approaches, from discursive segments and comedic interludes to found footage and animation.
Featuring the intricate set pieces and handmade puppets used for a trailer shot in Japan and a pilot episode filmed in Mexico City, the exhibition is an investigation of the entire Baby Marx project to date. Unlike earlier phases, this version uses the tools and procedures of documentary filmmaking to reflect on the question, "What is Baby Marx?" More specifically, what does this work have to say about the contemporary moment and our complicated relationships with philosophies filtered through years of contradictory interpretations? With an in-gallery production studio where the artist will develop new material with live puppeteers and a series of public events, Baby Marx offers a fresh meditation on the intersections of entertainment, ideology, and contemporary art.
About the Artist
Pedro Reyes' work addresses the interplay of physical and social space. He often relies on architecture, design, language, video, and group activities to examine the cognitive contradictions of modern life and the possibility of increasing our individual and collective agency. Reyes has exhibited in institutions throughout the world including the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San Francisco Art Institute; Serpentine Gallery, London; Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan; Aspen Art Museum; Reina Sofia, Madrid; South London Gallery; Labor Gallery, Mexico City; Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York and Paris; Jumex Collection, Mexico City; P.S.1, New York; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Shanghai Biennale; Seattle Art Museum; Reykjavik Art Museum; and the Venice Biennale.
Baby Marx is organized by Bartholomew Ryan and Camille Washington for the Walker Art Center.
Opening Day Talk
August 11, 7PM CT
Literary theorist Lauren Berlant, political philosopher Michael Hardt, and Reyes discuss some of the ideas emerging from Baby Marx.
Baby Marx: Town Hall
August 13, 2PM
Situated amid the giant set pieces used in the pilot episode of Baby Marx, this town hall debate asks "Who Will Survive in America?" Featuring a range of contributors, the event is organized in association with the Political Science Department of the University of Minnesota.
The talk will be live cast and made available for viewing along with the town hall at channel.walkerart.org.
As part of the Walker Art Center's Expanding the Rules of Engagement with Artists and Audiences initiative, this exhibition is made possible by the Bush Foundation.