by Robin Venter
from Laguna Beach, California in United States
"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by Felix Gonzalez-Torresmark6mauno, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was a Cuban-American artist born in 1957. He was an openly gay man who used his artwork to spark conversations about loss, sexuality, and other culturally relevant topics. Torres used objects like candy, paper, and other interactive material that encouraged community engagement and collaboration. His pieces often interrupt space. Some of his works are beaded curtains that the viewer must pass through, others are piles of candy spread out across a floor so that viewers must move around it. Some of his works are encouraged to be interacted with. He made sculptures of stacks of paper, and viewers were encouraged to take a sheet; another one of his sculptures [“Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)] encourages viewers to take a piece of candy from a pile weighing approximately 175 lbs, the ideal weight of Torres’ partner, Ross, who died of AIDS-related illness. When a viewer takes a piece of candy, the weight of the pile decreases, representing the weight lost by Torres’ partner.
The artist’s work that brings to light the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic is a heroic task. Even today the topic is still shied away from in conversation. To bring awareness to a disease that affected the LGBT community so deeply takes a dedication to the community that is heroic. To take something joyful like a piece of candy and have it represent something so much more significant is a difficult task, but the artist’s installations and the plaques mounted next to them are unforgettable. The artist himself died of AIDS-related illness in 1996, a few years after Ross. He used his time and talent to shed light on an often ignored issue that profoundly affected the LGBT community.
Page created on 5/29/2021 8:13:22 PM
Last edited 5/31/2021 4:59:00 AM
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