Goshka Macuga Assembling Half-Truths
For Time Fabric, her exhibition at New York’s New Museum last spring, Goshka Macuga set out to make her modest contribution to ascertaining historical truth, even if, as she knows, we get only half the truth at best. She therefore set about gathering archives and information into a kind of collage that could serve as a reservoir of possible narratives. Physically, the result was five monumental tapestries whose themes were related to the history of the institution. For this artist sculpture, drawing, installation and choreography are other mediums that also contribute, without hierarchy, to the edification of knowledge.
ted a monologue stitched together from famous historical speeches. This fall, elements of that show came to Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, which featured works that envisioned the history of ideas as a kind of molecular model that linked historical thinkers like elementary particles across diverse histories and cultures. USES AND ABUSES OF GUERNICA For New York audiences, the most significant introduction to her work took place last spring in an exhibition at the New Museum titled Time as Fabric. The centerpiece of the show was Macuga’s monumental tapestries. Machine-woven from digital collages pieced together by the artist out of historical and recent photographs, news clips and other archival materials, each of these works tells a complex and fractured story originating in the history of the commissioning institution. Macuga is alert to ironies and paradoxes and these often become the trigger that launches a work. The first in the tapestry series is The Nature of the Beast, created for a 2009 exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, where Macuga currently makes her home. The trigger was Macuga’s discovery that in 1939 the Gallery had hosted Picasso’s Guernica as part of an exhibition in support of the Republican forces then fighting in Spain. This led her to further discoveries about the uses and abuses of this iconic painting, chief among them the fact that in 1955, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (who twenty years earlier had destroyed a commissioned mural by Diego Rivera because of its political content), bought one of the three tapestry reproductions of the painting (commisioned by Picasso from René and Jacqueline Dürrebach), which eventually made its way into the Security Council chamber of the United Nations. Notoriously, this cri de coeur against war was shrouded with a curtain in February of 2003 when Colin Powell presented his fallacious justifications for the invasion of Iraq. Macuga decided to extend the peculiar career of the Guernica tapestry by installing it for the duration of her show in the Whitechapel gallery. The tapestry was accompanied by various archival materials