La Menesunda: Cincuenta Años Después

We tell you about how is the Menesunda devised by the artists Marta Minujin and Rubén Santantonín in mid-sixties, in which it has been recreated at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires.

By Ayelen Pagnanelli / Argentina

La Menesunda, mythic work of the Argentine art’s history, daughter of the bold spirit of the mid-sixties is open to the public in Buenos Aires again. Devised by Minujín (1943) and Rubén Santantonín (1919-1969), it was performed with artists such as David Lamelas, Pablo Suarez, Leopoldo Maler, Rodolfo Prayon, and Floreal Amor with the intention of creating a work of art that instead of being seen, it had to be lived. The original atmosphere was exhibited at the Di Tella Institute in 1965 for fifteen days and then was it destroyed. The team of the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art made an intense reconstruction work to reproduce the size and experience of the work by means of photographs, documents of time and Minujín’s memory.

Marta Minujín and Rubén Santantonín in the entrance of La Menesunda. Photographic register of La Menesunda, May of 1965, Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. Archive Marta Minujín.
Marta Minujín and Rubén Santantonín in the entrance of La Menesunda. Photographic register of La Menesunda, May of 1965, Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. Archive Marta Minujín.

The work consists of a maze route; some even acclimated with actors and actresses. First we climbed a small ladder to reach a mezzanine where we see on TV in black and white of the sixties that the museum acquired especially. When we going down a narrow ladder we bump into face to face with a couple in pajamas having a conversation in a bedroom. We leave that place and we are in a tunnel whose walls are lined with neon lights.

La Menesunda, May of 1965, Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, courtesy Archivo Marta Minujín.
La Menesunda, May of 1965, Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, courtesy Archivo Marta Minujín.

Then we came to an all pink room, according Minujín, it represents the head of the women of the time. The walls are covered with objects of beauty and cosmetics boxes with a brand that no longer exists, and were reprinted at the sole request of the museum. There two girls ask us if we want a massage or putting on makeup. Although we wanted to be mere spectators, in this hall we definitely become part of the Menesunda

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One of the spaces that confirm by what is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia entering the exhibition is a passage that gets narrower and narrower with every step. It is covered with several tens of meters of pink polystyrene cylinders hanging from the walls; it is no coincidence that the space is called intestines. In the middle of another hall with padded floor and walls filled with bits of foam rubber, a careful eye will notice two holes where you can take a look at the giant sculpture of the head of a woman.

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In another room we have to guess a number key to move to the next space. Once this is done, we will see the door of an ice-cream shop. We opened it and entered in a cold camera, but perhaps the cold is just imaginary. To reach the last room we must go through what Minujín called a “sea of textures”, which fall from the roof cylinders of different fabrics that need to be moved to continue. The final room is octagonal and it is covered with mirrors from floor to ceiling. In the center is a glazed platform where a person enters. Once inside, the lights go off, the fans on the floor start spinning and everything becomes a party of shredded paper flying through the air. A party that celebrates the end of the route.

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Once outside, an assistant advises to remove the shredded paper of hair and clothes before entering now, to a conventional room. It contains some documentary footage, a plan of the work, information about the process of reconstruction and a video about the reaction of visitors in the exhibition in 1965. After fifty years from this experience, we can see the same maelstrom of colors and sensations that invite us to be voyeurs, participants and enjoy the jungle of sensations that is the Menesunda.

The exhibition will remain open from Tuesday to Sunday from 12am to 18hrs until 28 February at the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art, Av. San Juan 350, CABA, Argentina.

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