Payment of the Argentine Foreign Debt to Andy Warhol with Corn, The Latin American Gold

Marta Minujín, Payment of the Argentine Foreign Debt to Andy Warhol with Corn, The Latin American Gold, 1985. Photographic print. Private Collection, Courtesy of Henrique Faria, New York


Marta Minujín's Special Performance at Americas Society

By Mark Rifkin

The website highlights that the multidisciplinary artist will restage one of her most iconic photographs from 1985. 

In 1985, multidisciplinary artist Marta Minujín went to the Factory to participate in a unique performance with Andy Warhol. The Argentine-born Minujín and the Pittsburgh-born Warhol sat back-to-back in red folding chairs amid one thousand ears of corn; each artist was dressed all in black, except for the platinum blond Minujín’s yellow and orange socks and the silver-wigged Warhol’s grayish-white sneakers. Titled Payment of the Argentine Foreign Debt to Andy Warhol with Corn, the Latin American Gold, the conceptual performance piece, printed in 2011 in a six-photo grid against a white background, involved the forty-two-year-old Minujín, wearing dark sunglasses, presenting the fifty-six-year-old Warhol with the international food staple maize, which had been painted yellow and orange. Over the course of the photographs, they turn to each other, look directly at the camera, and exchange a handful of ears. After the performance, Minujín and Warhol signed the corn and handed ears out to people in front of the Empire State Building, the subject of one of Warhol’s most famous films, Empire.

“Simply put, Argentina’s always owed money to the International Monetary Fund. Always. Then I thought, ‘This country’s fed the entire world by now,’ because during World War II, Argentine ships would sail out laden with seeds and corn for people to make bread and everything. So many ships sailed out, in fact, that their lives were extended by what they received from Argentina. So, for me, the dollar debt had already been settled,” Minujín says on the audioguide that accompanies the Jewish Museum exhibition “Marta Minujín: Arte! Arte! Arte!,” where Payment is part of an exciting career survey of the artist through April 1. “I wanted to be done with the subject and figured I’d pay Andy Warhol. He was a friend of mine, and our intentions, way of living, everything was aligned. So, I paid off Argentina’s foreign debt to him in Latin American gold — corn. That was the idea behind this piece. Now, many issues still remain around the dollar, but it’s as though I’ve paid off this debt. For me, it’s settled. Even for Argentina, it’s settled — it has been for many years now.” One of the photos was also on view in the recent Americas Society show “El Dorado: Myths of Gold Part I.

On March 26, Minujín will restage the event at Americas Society; admission is free with advance registration. Americas Society director and chief curator of art Aimé Iglesias Lukin and Jewish Museum associate curator Rebecca Shaykin will introduce the performance, which will be followed by a reception...

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