On Site is an exhibition series, for which the Museum commissions an artist to create a site-specific work. For his On Site commission, titled MF Ziggurat, Santiago Cucullu, an internationally renowned Milwaukee-based artist, contrasts the high design of the Museum with a clash of the urban. The artist has mined Milwaukee’s cityscape, works of fiction, television, and his imagination for this large-scale multimedia intervention. Through his monumental wall drawings, videos, and sculptures, he has overtaken the columns, arches, bays, windows—even curves—of the galleria and incorporated them into his noisy, bustling, collage work.
Cucullu perceives today’s skyscrapers as the ziggurats of ancient Assyria and Babylon, terraced temples with successively receding stories. The namesake of Cucullu’s installation, the ziggurat is the pillar around which life happens. The artist incorporates this architectural form into many of his wall pieces, layered with the structural elements and images of daily life today. In MF Ziggurat, Cucullu has used as the foundation of his piece the Museum, a “ziggurat,” which remains stubbornly unobscured, forever the temple that upholds art amidst the bustle of an ever-changing city.
Cucullu’s intuitive working process echoes traditional assemblage and readymade techniques, which manipulate and shuffle imagery into new value systems. The images in his videos and drawings shift and slip into new and unexpected contexts, much like the “everyday absurdities that accumulate and insinuate themselves into reality.” Using free-form associations, Cucullu combines formal abstract and narrative devices alike: In the industrially produced contact paper wall drawing—an entanglement of manipulated images—Cucullu interconnects mini-narratives into a large conglomeration of imagery to be decoded or left as surface. Similarly evocative are his continuously looping videos (without strict beginnings or ending points) of nonrepresentational vignettes.
Supported by Harpo Foundation
On Site: Santiago Cucullu has been commissioned by the Milwaukee Art Museum and curated by John McKinnon, curatorial assistant of modern and contemporary art.
Thursday, April 24, 5–8 p.m.
Artist’s talk, 6:15 p.m.
Free with general admission