As a pioneer of socially engaged artistic practice, Pablo Helguera has used installation, photography, drawing, writing, musical performance and large-scale projects as elements of his work. His School of Panamerican Unrest is one of the most far-reaching and enduring public art projects on record. The School, a “nomadic think-tank” facilitating discussions, screenings, performances and partnerships with organizations encountered along the way, has been touring for over a decade. Marked by the yellow schoolhouse that accompanies Helguera’s travelling project, the School has crossed over 20,000 miles through 40 states in the United States. Helguera’s work takes a pedagogic approach to exploring the relationship between art and language, as well as the social dynamics of contemporary art and our daily lives. His musical performances, which have taken place across the nation, from Mexico City to the Musem of Modern Art in New York, combine elements of classical music and opera, as well as more conceptual explorations of musical structure and score. “Parallel Lives,” for example, which was performed at the MoMA in 2003, placed performance practices within the exhibition context. In this hybrid project, objects were displayed in the museum’s gallery space alongside five alternative narratives accessible through audio guides. Each storyline described the vastly different lives of five individuals accompanied by music. Helguera’s Parallel Lives sought to illustrate how objects in exhibition settings “become receptors, not containers of meaning.” He also highlighted the great differences of each story in contrast to the commonality of the shared objects. In addition to his art and music practice, Helguera formerly served as the Head of Public Programs in the Education department of the Guggenheim Museum, and is currently the Director of Adult Academic programs at MoMA.
Lives and works in New York, NY