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09 March 2013 —
07 July 2013

Santiago Sierra:
Destroyed Word

Santiago Sierra, Destroyed Word (installation view). Photo by Sam Hartnett.
Santiago Sierra, Destroyed Word, 2013 (installation view). Photo by Sam Hartnett
Santiago Sierra, Destroyed Word (installation view). Photo by Sam Hartnett.
Santiago Sierra, Destroyed Word (installation view). Photo by Sam Hartnett.


Te Tuhi is proud to present Destroyed Word, by internationally renowned Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. Throughout his practice, Sierra has investigated systems of social, political and economic power that assert their dominance through exploitation and marginalisation. He is most famously known for his works of the late 1990s where he paid underprivileged people to undertake mundane or humiliating tasks. Sierra based these works on the logic of business practices that employ the poor for menial labour with little remuneration. In doing so, he re-enacted the logic of such exploitative economies within an art gallery context - a powerful but intentionally problematic artistic gesture that resisted the simplistic morals of activism and implicates the subject, audience and the artist himself.

Sierra’s current body of work continues this line of enquiry but through the creation of  monumental words. Works such as Submission (2006-7), NO Global Tour (2009-12) and Burned Word (2012) feature singular giant words constructed or positioned in specific locations that resonate with the harsh economic realities of capitalism. Destroyed Word is the most recent and ambitious work from this series. The work consists of a 10 channel video installation that features the spectacular destruction of the word KAPITALISM. Te Tuhi was one of 9 commissioning partners around the world that contributed to Destroyed Word by erecting and destroying a giant three metre high letter. Each letter was constructed out of a primary product or material significant to the economy of each location. The letters were destroyed in Australia, Austria, Germany, France, Iceland, India, Papua New Guinea, Holland, New Zealand and Sweden. Each letter stands in reference to specific local contexts of economic and political power relations. As a whole, Sierra’s outsourced KAPITALISM draws on the far reaching implications of the global financial crisis. Te Tuhi is the second in the world and the only New Zealand venue for Destroyed Word on its international tour.

Production Coordinators: Bruce E. Phillips & James McCarthy, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts; Paul Greenaway, Greenaway Art Gallery & GAGProjects; Alexander Koch, KOW Berlin.

Te Tuhi would like to acknowledge the technical expertise of Regan Gentry, camera work of Ian Powell, audio editing by Guy Nicoll, and all of the shooters who shall remain anonymous.

Destroyed Word is presented at Te Tuhi in association with Auckland Arts Festival 2013.


→ An artist for troubled times – Stuff
→ CIRCUIT CAST Episode 2: On Criticism, The Destroyed World, Asia Pacific Triennial – CIRCUIT
→ Eradicating Capitalism’s Name – EyeContact
→ Pakuranga gallery takes part in global artwork – Newshub
→ End of the word as we know it – New Zealand Herald


Santiago Sierra: Destroyed Word

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