Featured Long Durational Work


Duration: Seven hours

Text by Carlos Martiel and Karina Vahitova
Cover photograph by Amedeo Benestante

For his performance “Punto de Fuga” ("Vanishing Point"), performance artist Carlos Martiel referenced Leonardo Da Vinci’s "Vitruvian Man” (circa 1490). This drawing was regarded as the symbol for symmetry of the human body, which Da Vinci believed to be an analogy for the function of the universe. By interpreting the drawing with his own body, Martiel challenged the Western cultural notion frequently seen in art history that the caucasian man is the center around which contemporary society revolves. The performance reflected on multiculturalism in history, specifically on periods of time in which Westerners have invaded other cultures of the world.  

For the performance, a prestigious Italian doctor, Alberto del Genio, spent five hours sewing 88 black wool yarns (brought to Italy from South America) into Martiel’s body. When the doctor was finished, the artist stood in the center of the main hall of the Nitsch Museum in between two walls specially built for the performance. A group of 12 assistants tightened the wool threads attached to Martiel and tied them to the walls. The threads sewed to Martiel's back all followed the same direction to a single point on the wall. The threads extending from his torso expanded in many directions, creating the illusion that he was being pierced by a vanishing point. Martiel remained standing for two hours. 

Carlos Martiel (born in Havana) is a controversial Cuban artist specializing in performance. His works focus on specific political events and on social injustices that occurr inside and outside his country of origin. Martiel's performances reflect on the relations of power between the individual and the different contexts in which he or she operates. He graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts "San Alejandro," Havana in 2009. Between the years of 2008-2010, he studied in the Catedra de Arte Conducta, directed by the artist Tania Bruguera. Martiel's works have been included in: Havana Biennial (2009) Curated by Tania Bruguera; Pontevedra Biennal (2010) curated by Santiago Olmo; Liverpool Biennial ( 2010), curated by Lorenzo Fusi; Biennial "La Otra," Bogota ( 2013) curated by Edna Sandoval; International Performance Art Biennale, Houston,(2014). He has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Center "Wifredo Lam," Havana (2012); Nitsch Museum, curated by Eugenio Viola, Naples (2013); Axeneo 7, Montreal (2013); Lux Gallery, Guatemala City (2013); and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles (2014). He has received several awards, including "CIFOS Grants & Commissions Program Award" in Miami, 2014; "Arte Laguna" in Venice, Italy, 2013; "Close Up Award" in Vallarta, Mexico, 2012. His work has been exhibited in Estonian Museum of Art and Design in Tallinn, Estonia; Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires in Argentina; Bellevue Museum of Arts, Washington; The 8th floor in New York, among others. His website can be found here.