Santiago Cao. A Drinking Work of Art (english text)

Performative Intervention in MNBA (National Museum of Fine Art)

12 November 2005, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Photography by Sol Beylis.

Approximately duration: 1 hour.

(To see more photographs of this Performance, click on the photo)

In order to bring the elements we needed into the museum, considering the strict security which doesn’t allow anyone to bring bags inside, we opted to hide the glasses and bottles of champagne in pushchairs under blankets, coats and obviously, babies. We even got the security guards to help in carrying the pushchairs up the stairs to enter the museum.

At the same time we left invitations to the performance intervention in the reception area next to all the information about the exhibitions and talks etc. The invitations advertised an intervention of the museum to take place at 1600 without specifying the room. Seeing this, visitors starting asking those in reception where the event was going to take place, so warning management of our plans. Playing cat-and-mouse with the guards we moved around the museum with the public until the appointed hour. A few minutes before the due time I walked around the different rooms telling everyone I saw that the performance would take place in the Spanish Informalism room. Then some friends went to the security guards responsible for this area, and with their baby in their arms led them away from the room with the excuse of asking after a few of the paintings further down the hall. The moment we had the room to our selves we marked a square with yellow cloth copying the “limit between artwork and public space” used in museums. Then came the pushchairs. Once one had arrived and the hidden glasses and bottles were taken out, it was followed by more pushchairs bringing more glasses and bottles. When everything was ready I pinned a notice on the wall saying “Santiago Cao. A Drinking Work of Art”, and entered the delineated space, de-corking the bottles and offering glasses of champagne around to those present.

“Come, come. You are all welcome. Make yourselves at home. Cheers.” The performance continued in this manner, drinking to those present without leaving the “performance space”, until a guard turned up at the entrance to the room, looked inside, heard my greeting (Cheers to the guy at the back) and upon seeing so many people made a quiet exit. In a few minutes he returned with another security guard. He pointed me out, as if confirming what I’d said already – they looked at each other, and without saying a word, left the room. Soon after they returned, this time with an important looking woman, who sent the guards to stop the performance. The guard came towards me, but as I was entering the “performance space”, I said to him:

- “Careful!” and pointing to the ground, added “Don’t be the one to cross the boundary.”

He stopped and looked to the ground.

- “A glass of champagne?” I offered.

- “No thanks, I can’t.”

- “Cheers” I said to him, and had a sip of my drink.

- “You can’t be doing this.”

- “I can’t?”

- “No – you have to leave”, he said.

- “Cheers then!”

And I crossed by yellow line on the ground, walking towards the exit with my champagne in hand.

The people present spontaneously started clapping, drawing our attention to others in the museum, who when they came near saw a procession of people holding champagne, laughing and chatting about what had happened, while the head of security started loudly asking her employees “How did they bring all this in?” At the same time the various pushchairs passed by her side making for the exit.