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Santiago Sierra

Curated by NR Magazine
Critical text by Jade Removille

On display from 19/07/2023 to 30/07/2023
Opening Friday 21/07/2023 at 19:00
Lancetti railway station, Milan

Santiago Sierra (Madrid, Spain, 1966) is a renowned contemporary conceptual and performance Spanish artist known for his thought-provoking and politically charged artworks and whose oeuvre continues to be widely recognised and exhibited in major art institutions around the world. Known for his provocative and politically charged artwork that often addresses issues of social and economic inequality, labour exploitation, and human rights. Sierra’s work spans a variety of mediums, including installation, video, performance, and photography, and often involves the use of controversial materials such as blood, human hair, and excrement.
After graduating in Fine Arts at Madrid’s Complutense University, Sierra continued his artistic training in Hamburg. His artistic career began with exhibitions that marked a before and after in his work, such as the Minimal Art from the Panza Collection at the MNCARS in 1988 in Madrid and Zeitlos at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, curated by Harald Szeemann. There, Sierra found minimalism useful due to its syntactic character, which allowed him to incorporate reality into pure forms. In Mexico, Sierra’s work was influenced by the dense reality of the country, and their oeuvre began to weigh more heavily on reality than the history of art itself.
Sierra’s work serves as an outlet for critical thoughts surrounding the forms of violence imposed by the socio-political conditions of our time, engaging with marginalised groups, highlighting their struggles and drawing attention to their plight through his art. Sierra also often pushes the limits of what is considered acceptable, highlighting the presence of societal rules and limits. He believes that dealing with those unpleasant themes surrounding hierarchies of power and classes and the exploitation of individuals is essential to defining society and the environment His connection with actors in that environment provides a necessary and engaging corridor for exploring these themes. 

NR Magazine, founded in London in 2016, is an independent bi-annual print publication dedicated to showcasing diverse content in the realms of art, culture, design, fashion, music and beyond. Based in Milan since 2021, NR aims at providing in print and online, an archive of features and conversations between emerging and established creatives with a focus on empowering voices. Through the exploration of themes that transcend boundaries, challenge norms, and inspire change, NR aims to elevate the cultural conversation and celebrate the beauty of creativity in all its forms. With its discerning editorial approach and commitment to visual storytelling, NR has established itself as a prominent platform for creative expression and artistic exploration.

NR Magazine is pleased to announce its collaboration with spazioSERRA, an Association for Social Promotion dedicated to promoting contemporary art in a suburban context. The exhibition will showcase the work of renowned Spanish conceptual artist Santiago Sierra, featuring the projection of four impactful short films. The exhibition aims to engage audiences in a profound exploration of social and political themes and is a continuation of Santiago Sierra’s feature in the latest issue of NR, NR 17 the Global Virtue issue Spring Summer 2023 released this April.

NR is delighted to host this exhibition in collaboration with spazioSERRA, known for its commitment to fostering artistic dialogue and presenting innovative works. The SERRA collective, composed of visionary figures responsible for the artistic direction of the space, brings together diverse perspectives to organise and promote events that provoke critical thinking and challenge societal norms.

The exhibition will feature four captivating short films by Santiago Sierra, each offering a unique perspective on contemporary issues:


1. “250cm line tattooed on 6 paid people”: In this thought-provoking film, Sierra explores themes of ownership, power, and exploitation. The artist tattoos a 250cm line onto the bodies of six individuals, blurring the boundaries between art and human commodification, raising questions about the value and agency of individuals within societal structures.

2. “10 inch line shaved on the heads of two junkies who received a shot of heroin as payment”: Sierra confronts the realities of addiction and marginalisation in this emotionally charged film. By compensating two individuals with a shot of heroin, the artist symbolically questions the devastating impact of substance abuse and its entrapment of vulnerable individuals within cycles of despair.

3. “20 workers in a ship’s hold”: Sierra sheds light on the invisible labor force often overlooked in our society. The film documents twenty workers confined within the tight space of a ship’s hold, emphasising the physical and psychological strain endured by individuals in precarious work environments. This powerful piece serves as a commentary on labor exploitation and the need for social awareness.

4. “Destroyed word”: Sierra’s “Destroyed word” challenges conventional linguistic symbols and their inherent power. Through the destruction of a single word, the artist invites viewers to question the influence and limitations of language as a tool of communication and control.

The collaboration between NR Magazine and spazioSERRA exemplifies a shared commitment to promoting contemporary art in non-traditional settings. By providing a platform for Santiago Sierra’s thought-provoking films, the exhibition encourages audiences to engage with pressing social and political issues, sparking conversations and reflections.

The exhibition will be open to the public from July 19th to July 30th at spazioSERRA, located at Viale Vincenzo Lancetti, 43, 20158 Milano MI (inside the Lancetti train station). Admission is free, and visitors are invited to immerse themselves in Sierra’s compelling works and engage in meaningful dialogue.

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