After graduating in Fine Arts at Madrid's Complutense University, Santiago Sierra completed his artistic training in Hamburg, where he studied under professors F. E. Walter, S. Brown and B. J. Blume. His beginnings are linked to alternative art circuits in the capital of Spain—El Ojo Atómico, Espacio P—although he would go on to develop much of his career in Mexico (1995–2006) and Italy (2006–10), and his work has always exerted a great influence on artistic literature and criticism.
Sierra's oeuvre strives to reveal the perverse networks of power that inspire the alienation and exploitation of workers, the injustice of labour relations, the unequal distribution of wealth produced by capitalism, the deviance of work and money, and racial discrimination in a world scored with unidirectional (south–north) migratory flows.
Revisiting and updating certain strategies characterising the Minimalism, Conceptual and Performance Art of the seventies, Sierra interrupts flows of capital and godos (Obstruction of Freeway With a Truck’s Trailer, 1998; Person Obstructing a Line of Containers, 2009); he hires labourers to reveal their precarious circumstances (20 Workers in a Ship’s Hold, 2001); he explores the mechanisms of racial segregation derived from economic inequalities (Hiring and Arrangement of 30 Workers in Relation to Their Skin Color, 2002; Economical Study of The Skin of Caracans, 2006); and refutes the stories that legitimate a democracy based on state violence (Veterans of the Wars of Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Irak Facing the Corner, 2010–2; Los encargados, 2012).
NO, Global Tour (New York–Miami, USA), November 2010. B/W photograph. 125 x 122 cm [Ref# 40512]
NO, Global Tour (Luca, Italy), July 2009. B/W photograph. 100 x 177 cm [Ref# 40572]
The Penetrated. First Act (El Torax, Terrasa, Spain), October 2008. B/W photograph. 140 x 248 cm [Ref# 40018]
Black Flag of the Spanish Republic (Schellmann Edition, Munich, Germany), December 2007. Flag with 3 variations of black. 148 x 208 cm [Ref# 39895]
House in Mud (Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany), February 2005. Triptych: B/W photograph. 151 x 227 cm [Ref# 39895]
© Santiago Sierra
Footbridge Obstructed With Wrapping Tape (Calzada de Tlalplan con Río Churubusco, Mexico DF, Mexico), May 1996. B/W chromogenic print. 150 x 227 cm [Ref# 38466]
Line Measuring 200 cm Scratched into a Car’s Paitwork (Olbia, Sardinia, Italy), July 2001. Diptyc: B/W prints. 20 x 30 cm [Ref# 38505]
[caption id="attachment_1462" align="alignnone" width="900"] 11 People Paid to Learn a Phrase (Casa de la Cultura de Zinacantán, Zinacantán, Mexico), March 2001. B/W chromogenic print. 150 x 180 cm [Ref# 38891]
Banner Suspended in Front of a Cove (Cala San Vicente, Mallorca, Spain), August 2001. Diptyc: B/W prints. 20 x 30 cm [Ref# 38507]
586 Hours of Work (Plaza de las Veletas, Cáceres, Spain), April 2004. B/W photograph. 151 x 227 cm [Ref# 38705]