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Marx Turns 200 in Montevideo. 3 Street Artists Paint “After Marx” for Goethe-Institut

Posted on October 11, 2018

Karl Marx had his 200th birthday this year, proudly rocking a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce,said the author of The Communist Manifesto, and to mark the bicentennial of the polarizing figure in Montevideo, Street Artists Various & Gould (Germany), Min8 (Uruguay) and Vince (France) created new artworks along the Avenida 8 de October and the walls of a former prison, now turned art space.

“The Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the French Embassy took the bicentenary of Karl Marx as an opportunity to discuss what remains of Marx today, and what we can learn from him,” says Katharina Ochse, the director of Goethe-Institut Uruguay. “The idea of inviting three artists from different countries was to obtain very different perspectives of people who have had very different experiences in their past with the ideas of Marx.”

Collectively the program is entitled „Después de Marx“, or “After Marx”

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

In Vince’s portrait of Marx you realize that the beard he sported is very modern and a bit bookish, perfect for the political theorist and revolutionary socialist of 2018. Supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement is a given, as you know he would be in the thick of thirty different socio-political initiatives on this eve of another economic crash. In another image of Marx posed with Engels, the two look like a couple of college bros with send-ups of modern novelty t-shirts.

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Roger Eychenne)

The Berlin based art duo Various & Gould took an abstract decontructivist approach to the German philosopher, a free-associative recombining of elements of his physical and his theories.

“Marx does not appear as a complete portrait with us – only in the form of his typical beard,” says Various. “The rest of the head is made up of more abstract fragments and industrial elements such as a chimney, a gear and an actual still existing landmark in Montevideo, an old gasometer.”

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Gould expands on their aesthetic answer to a complex character and symbol. “His profound scientific analysis of working conditions and production processes seems to be the core of his work. From this examination of relationship between man and work, we have been inspired to a metaphorical game with human elements and machine parts. And the infinity sign at the other end of the tunnel, in combination with gears, is a tongue-in-cheek symbol of never-ending work.”

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

For her part, Uruguayan graffiti writer and style experimentalist Min8, working comfortably here in her hometown in this South American capital, employed symbol and metaphor, combining the royal eagle and the lion, which she calls her personal totem.

Min8. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

“I wanted to represent the fight, the struggle, and the freedom,” she says. “It is a ‘must’ for me. You should always fight and sacrifice yourself for your goals.” Says Min8.

Min8. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

The murals are not without detractors however. Photos posted on a Facebook page called “Uruguay Primero” (America First, anyone?) feature a handful of protesters rather respectfully taping handmade posters over the works during the night – each deriding the figure for causing deaths, creating concentration camps and other oppression of the poor.

Image from “Uruguay Primero” Facebook page (photo © Nicolás Quintana)

A commenter on the page was in agreement with the protest, saying “After Marx left this capitalist system, which generated all that that the poster you put said it did. I congratulate you for the intervention.”

In street art terms, they may have “gone over” the works, but they didn’t permanently destroy them, while censuring the message. In an ironic turn of events, a video posted by the group was pulled down by Facebook – another form of censorship.

Presumably this kind of open discussion of ideas would appeal to those savoring the exchange of ideas and ideals, long after Marx.

 

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

 

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. With Vince at work on his piece. Tunnel, Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Vince)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Min8 . Various & Gould. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Min8 . Various & Gould. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8 . Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Jessica Porley)

Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Jessica Porley)

Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Min8)

Vince. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

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