If high school teachers around the world used Mexican artist Pedro Reyes's "Baby Marx" to teach history, we'd be overrun by randy teenage political scientists with the creative inspiration to analyze—maybe even resolve—insurrections and the budget crises. Yes, Reyes's puppet-driven video project, on view starting this week at the Walker Art Center, is that brilliant. Trained as an architect, Reyes uses various mediums to explore how mass entertainment might double as a radical—and radicalizing—educational tool. Equal parts sci-fi, romance, and history lesson, "Baby Marx" features a group of precocious puppet children and their teacher, who bring Marx, Stalin (with fangs!), and Mao (whose mechanical gestures are especially captivating) into combat with Adam Smith, Frederick Taylor, and others by zapping these iconic figures' books in a magical microwave. In addition to the video, the exhibition includes an in-gallery production studio and public events examining Reyes's matrices of entertainment, ideology, and art. Expect discussions on Madoff, debt ceilings, and the educational system to ensue. The opening-day artist's talk is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 11; there will be a town-hall debate at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 13; and a Songs for Communism and Capitalism Camp Fire at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 1.
Aug. 11-Nov. 27, 2011