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Why do we break with some traditions and perpetuate others? Artists in this episode use life experiences and family heritage to explore new aesthetic terrain.

More information and credits


Series Created By: Susan Dowling & Susan Sollins. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve Moros Ortega. Associate Curator: Wesley Miller. Director of Production: Nick Ravich. Field Producer: Ian Forster. Editor: Lizzie Donahue. Director of Photography: Jarred Alterman, Rafael Salazar, Miguel Sanchez-Martin, Ian Serfontein, & Joel Shapiro. Additional Photography: Mark Falstad, David Howe, Rafael de la Uz, & Ava Wiland. Sound: Tom Bergin, Richard Gin, Heidi Hesse, Agnès Jammal, Mauricio Rodriguez, Rob Shire, Paul Stadden, & Merce Williams. Assistant Camera: Garrett Burns, Alejandro Munoz, & Irwin Seow.

Art Direction & Design: Open, New York. Online Editor: Don Wyllie. Composer: Peter Foley. Voiceover Artist: Jace Alexander, Dale Soules, & Joe Urla. Sound Mix: Cory Melious. Sound Edit: Matt Snedecor. Graphics Animation: CRUX Design. Artwork Animation: Stephanie Andreou. Assistant Editor: Carla Naranjo, Danny Rivera, Leana Siochi, Elizabeth J. Theis, & Bahron Thomas.

Artworks Courtesy of: Tania Bruguera; Abraham Cruzvillegas; Wolfgang Laib; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; kurimanzutto, Mexico City; & Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York. Archival Footage & Photography: Bunker, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; & Tate Media, London.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees; María de los Angeles Fuentes; Alejandra Carrillo; Ilse Cornelis; Deborah Cristiano; Annette Eliëns; Lucile Fay; Annie Fletcher; Framerunner; Neshi Galindo; Charlotte Du Genestoux; Dominique Harrison; Heard City; Amelia Hinojosa; Immigrant Movement International; Meredith Kessler; Carolyn Laib; Silvia Juliana Mantilla Ortiz; Cristian Manzutto; Aliza Nisenbaum; Paulina Pardo; Pat Casteel Transcripts; The Phillips Collection; Queens Museum; Raices Group; Prerana Reddy; Alvaro F. Rodas; Patrick Rowe; David Strauss; Van Abbemuseum; Walker Art Center

Additional Art21 Staff: Cristiana Baik, Nicole J. Caruth, KC Forcier, Joe Fusaro, Jessica Hamlin, Jonathan Munar, Alexis Patterson, Heather Reyes, Diane Vivona, & Nechama Winston.

Public Relations: CaraMar Publicity. Station Relations: De Shields Associates, Inc. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

In Memoriam: Susan Sollins, visionary creator of Art21 and Art in the Twenty-First Century.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Abraham Cruzvillegas

Abraham Cruzvillegas assembles sculptures and installations from found objects and disparate materials. Expanding on the intellectual investigation of his own paradoxical aesthetic concepts of autoconstrucción and autodestrucción, he likens his works to self-portraits of contradictory elements and explores the effects of improvisation, transformation, and decay on his materials and work. In his experiments with video, performance, personal and family archives, and academic research, he reveals the deep connection between his identity—born of the realities of his family’s life in Mexico—and his artistic practice.

Tania Bruguera

Tania Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it. She expands the definition and range of performance art, sometimes performing solo but more often staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and interpretations of the politics of repression and control.

Wolfgang Laib

Inspired by the teachings of the ancient Taoist philosopher Laozi, by the modern artist Brancusi, and the legacy of formative life experiences with his family in Germany and India, Wolfgang Laib creates sculptures that seem to connect that past and present, the ephemeral and the eternal. Working with perishable organic materials (pollen, milk, wood, and rice) as well as durable ones that include granite, marble, and brass, he grounds his work by his choice of forms—squares, ziggurats, and ships, among others. Laib’s attention to human scale, duration of time, and his choice of materials give his work the power to transport us to expected realms of memory, sensory pleasure, and contemplation.

“It’s not my task to explain this. That is the secret, and the beauty, and the power, and the potential of all this.”

Wolfgang Laib