Coinciding with MUSAC's 5th Anniversary celebration the show 'Bringing Up Knowledge' presents the works by artists that explores the construction of knowledge and concepts of memory and history, and their respective transformations and interpretations by social, political, economic and/or religious agents. The artist group Un Mundo Feliz has been invited to produce the design of the presentation of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon in the MUSAC's Showcase project. The title of the installation, A-Z (from A to Z), refers to a list of people and comprises the documentation of the first 60 artists selected in 2010 to be a part of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon.
BRINGING UP KNOWLEGDE
Curated by Octavio Zaya
Artists: Alexander Apóstol, Simon Fujiwara, Fran Meana, Moris, Warren Neidich, Jenny Perlin, Diego del Pozo, Pedro G. Romero, Maria Ruido, Danh Vo
Coinciding with MUSAC’s 5th Anniversary celebration, Bringing Up Knowledge will be presented on April 10th. It is a group show by the artists Alexander Apóstol, Simon Fujiwara, Fran Meana, Moris, Warren Neidich, Jenny Perlin, Diego del Pozo, Pedro G.Romero, Maria Ruido, Danh Vo that explores the construction of knowledge and concepts of memory and history, and their respective transformations and interpretations by social, political, economic and/or religious agents. Curated by Octavio Zaya, Bringing Up Knowledge is the first collaboration between the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León and the Museo de León, two museum institutions that address art and its historical reality from different temporal premises: the present in the case of MUSAC and the past in that of the Museo de León.
Introductory essay, by Octavio Zaya
In the Information Age in which we live, it seems evident that the dividing line between knowledge and the unknown, reality and fiction, truth and falsehood is ever less clear and more difficult to discern. We are all aware of the fact that current society is raising profound questions about traditional concepts of history, memory and fiction. Every day we discover intentional manipulations, falsifications and concealments of the information that reaches citizens in realms of politics, religion, science, and ultimately in all fields of daily life, making it difficult to interpret or form an opinion not only about contemporary events but also about those of the past.
Philosophy has been asking us for centuries about “reality” and “truth”, about “the effects of reality” and “the fantasies of realism”, about “official history” and “subjective memory”, simulation and language games. All the same, the generalized relativism which is its legacy today does not seem to have freed us from the suspicion that all learning is compromised, that all knowledge is hardly more than a tool for control.
We know the situation is not new and we also know that history is written by those who win power or wars. But now, with the prominence of image in our culture, and widespread access to the technologies and instruments for manipulating it, we can all improve, change or modify reality, the facts and histories, according to our tastes and interests. All this does not only entail reconstructing or de-constructing the past but also inventing and representing the present. And it all contributes to creation and to the precarious foundations of what we consider to be “learning” or “knowledge”.
Bringing Up Knowledge probes themes related to the erasure, manipulation, revisionism, reconstruction and invention of facts and histories, through works, ideas and projects of artists who have tackled and continue to tackle what ultimately constitutes the establishment of “knowledge”. Apóstol, Fujiwara, Meana, Moris, Neidich, Perlin, Rabago, G. Romero, Maria Ruido and Danh Vo are among the artists who explore through their work the construction of understanding and the concepts of memory and history, as well as their respective transformations and interpretations.
The exhibition, which will occupy the Laboratorio 987 and part of the MUSAC facilities, and whose parallel activities will take place in the Museo de León, is not intended as an exhaustive or definitive project on these themes, but an exercise, a species of outline that explores, above all, the interest of some contemporary artists in the construction and deconstruction of culture, its genesis, contexts and determining factors.
About the artists
Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 1969
The multidisciplinary artist Alexander Apóstol has developed his work in media such as photography and video, through which he has explored themes like memory, the body and identity. His projects have incorporated urban settings and popular iconography to conceptually investigate politically pre-established social archetypes of gender. Apóstol employs irony and humour to question the human condition in contemporary society. In recent years his work has dealt with the process of dismantling Latin American modernity, employing for this purpose urban images that touch on and reinforce this theme.
London, United Kingdom, 1982
Embracing several formats—performances/conferences, fictitious publications and collections of diverse articles and objects—the recent projects of the Berlin-based artist Simon Fujiwara (1982) are shaped by gathering more or less plausible pieces of evidence. Each of these unearths an implicit myth about human origins and an explicit sexual archaeology, weaving a set of narratives that take us from man’s common past to Fuijwara’s recent personal time and his family history. With a British mother and a Japanese father, the artist has developed an art practice around his own origins and the carefully constructed borderlines between ethology, eroticism, architecture and ancestry, by writing and rewriting histories, biographies and gay porno stories that are as credible and crafted as a treatise on palaeontology. (text by Latitudes, curatorial office)
Aviles, Spain, 1982
After graduating from the University of Vigo with a degree in Fine Arts, he moved to Barcelona. His most noteworthy exhibitions include 1 1, Museo Abetlló, Mollet del Valles, Barcelona (2008),Descarga Discográfica, Sala de Art Jove, Barcelona (2008), Proyecto de una contingencia, CGAC, Santiago de Compostela (2007), BAC07: Babylon, CCCB, Barcelona (2007). Meana’s production is intended to generate the illusion of a possible re-appropriation of the symbols of power in order to subvert them. By investing them with domesticity and an ephemeral quality he aims to strip them of their sacred facet and thus restore their everydayness.
Moris (Israel Meza Moreno)
Mexico City, Mexico, 1978
Israel Meza Moreno is a “social sculptor” who takes the belongings of destitute people living in the city and manipulates them in order to return them and contribute to improving the beggars’ living quarters. Among his most notable actions and experiments are his “borrowing” a mattress that a vagabond was using as a shelter from the cold and intervening on it in order to give it back to him converted into a sleeping bag, or gathering strips of wood and placing them in the form of a precarious refuge that ended up turned into a home, since the homeless placed their scarce belongings inside the spaces delimited by the creator. To produce his pieces, the Mexican artist always uses objects found in the neighbourhoods—such as pieces of metal, cardboard or used bottles. For this reason Kramer sees a certain connection between his work and that of Gabriel Orozco. His pieces also show an evident kinship with Arte Povera.
New York, NY, USA, 1962
An artist born and living in New York, he has been a guest artist at Goldsmiths Collage of London and at the Cooper Union for Art and Science of New York. He currently has an ACE-AHRB Arts and Science research grant from the British Council. He has forthcoming exhibitions scheduled at the Kunstverien Potsdam of Germany, Buero Fredrich of Berlin and the Edward Mitterand Gallery of Geneva, Switzerland. In 2002 he had a solo show at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside (California); the Muller de Chiara Gallery of Berlin (Germany); The Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York; and Edward Mitterand Gallery of Geneva (Switzerland). His upcoming solo shows will be held at the Kunstverein Potsdam, in Postdam (Germany), and at the Muller de Chiara Gallery. His book Blow-up: Photography, Cinema and the Brain, co-produced by the Ford Foundation and DAP, presents an introduction by the art historian Norman Bryson. He is cofounder of artbrain-org, a website on art, writing and film related to the brain.
Williamstown, MA, USA, 1970
Jenny Perlin’s work in 16mm, video and drawing belongs within and goes against the documentary tradition, incorporating innovative stylistic techniques aimed at emphasizing aspects involving the concepts of truth, misunderstanding and personal history. Perlin’s work attentively observes the ways in which social schemes are reflected in the pettiest aspects of day to day occurrence. Whether it is through a copy of a receipt from Wal-Mart, or a Reuters headline, through FBI files from the 1950s, or filming documentary interviews in the corner store, Perlin’s interest focuses on the ways in which historical statements affect the specific details of human experience. Perlin’s works have been shown at the MoMA, The Kitchen (New York), The Drawing Center (New York); P.S.1 (New York); The Whitney Museum of Art (New York); CCA Wattis (San Francisco); Ulrich Museum of Art (Kansas); Centre pour l’image contemporaine (Geneva); Aldrich Museum (Connecticut); De Appel, (Amsterdam); Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna); Rotterdam Film Festival; Berlin Film Festival; Images Film Festival (Toronto).
Diego del Pozo
Valladolid, España, 1974
Diego del Pozo’s work is articulated around his preoccupation with love and desire and how these feelings, which seem to be related to the intimate experience of the subject, are actually determined by our social environment, spheres of power and methods of production. His art is based on the idea that the mechanisms of social control are interiorized by individuals, showing the fissures in which these tools of power conflict and provoke contradictions in our selves. By using apparently naive techniques and media—drawings, music boxes, videos or board games— he confronts us with a reality in which our desires, assumed to be something private and of our own, are unmasked as constructions that lead us to consumption or social control. Del Pozo earned a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Salamanca in 1997 and his work has been shown in institutions such as ECAT of Toledo; the Centro Cultural Montehermoso (Vitoria-Gasteiz); the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Salamanca, DA2; and the Centro de Arte Joven of the Community of Madrid.
Pedro G. Romero
Aracena, Huelva, Spain, 1964
The career of Pedro G. Romero (Aracena, 1964) comprises elements ranging from painting and drawing to the organization of courses and workshops, including photography, video, playwriting, recording musical documents, and publishing books and theoretical and literary texts. Archivo FX, a community project based on a set images of iconoclasm in Spain between 1845 and 1945 as a different way of seeing history and tradition in perspective, endows his art with a different autonomous framework in which to move. His latest works for Archivo F.X. include the production at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies of the project La ciudad vacía: (2005-2007), and, more recently, his contribution in the first issue of Archivo F.X. Documentos y materiales, an informative newsletter about all the works of the archive that appeared in the project Heterotopias, di/visions (from here and elsewhere) curated by Catherine David for Thessaloniki (2007).
A video-maker, researcher and cultural producer, since 1996 she has been developing interdisciplinary projects on the social creation of the body and its situation in work-related constructs, as well as on the mechanisms of building of memory and its relation to the narrative forms of history. She currently lives in Barcelona, where she is a Professor in the Design Department of the University of Barcelona, and where she belongs to several study groups involved with representation and its contextual relations.
Voh was born in Vietnam but raised in Denmark. In her installations she relates aspects of her eventful life to aspects of war and the history of colonialism. Her work explores the invisible borders between public and private, and the possibility of porosity between the two realms. Vo undermines the establishment (she curated an exhibition of works by recognized artists in her parents’ home in Copenhagen) as well as the personal (she got married to and divorced from numerous people, supplementing her own name with those of her spouses yet without sharing a personal or romantic life with them).
Danh Vo (b. 1975) graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Copenhagen and the Städelschule of Frankfurt. She currently lives and works in Berlin. In 2009 she was artist in residence at the Kadist Art Foundation (Paris). In 2008 she showed her work at Manifesta 7, Rovereto; the Triennial of Yokohama; Docking Station, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), among others, and in 2009 at the Gebert Stiftung für Kultur (Rapperswil).
Showcase Project: A – Z (from A to Z)
Curator: Agustín Pérez Rubio
A Project by: Un Mundo Feliz
As of April 10th the Showcase space of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León will be featuring the presentation of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon, a project developed by the MUSAC for the purpose of documenting, publicizing and promoting the long term study of the careers of some of the most relevant contemporary creators from this Community. As a presentation of the project the installation A – Z (from A to Z) will be shown in the Showcase space. This installation, conceived by the artist group Un Mundo Feliz, affords an opportunity to consult documentation on the first 60 artists selected in 2010 to be a part of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon. The selection was carried out by a committee of experts including Victor del Río, Professor at the University of Salamanca, art critic and member of the Advisory Committee of MUSAC; Beatriz Herráez, Curator of the Montehermoso Centro Cultural and art critic; Alberto Martín, indepent curator and art critic; and Teresa Velázquez, Curator and Head of Exhibitions at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
About the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon
The Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon developed by the MUSAC is a project constituted to make known and document the careers of some of the most relevant creators from this Community. The departure point of the archive is the task of documenting and cataloguing the artworks from Castile and Leon that have been acquired for the MUSAC Collection. The documentary base of the Collection is extended here by projecting a selection of new artists in order to create a broader space of public exhibition and promotion.
A committee of experts will meet annually to select a group of artists who will be added to the Archive, and whose oeuvres and careers will be documented. The information will be available for other institutions, researchers, critics, curators and the general public through the website www.musac.es and the Library – Documentation Centre of the MUSAC, and possibly in other spaces of the museum as well. The Archive will grow every year via the contributions of this committee, whose members will be different from year to year. In 2010 the committee in charge of the selection of artists consists of Víctor del Río, Beatriz Herráez, Alberto Martín and Teresa Velázquez.
In addition to the main mission of making known the work of our artists, this project is intended to recover a history written by movements and individual careers that have been touchstones in the art scene of Castile and Leon. On the other hand, the aim is also to explore the proposals of the youngest artists. The link with the past is established through creators who were active in 1989, when several generations and sensitivities coexisted, and serves as the departure point with which the MUSAC Collection is conceived. Art produced since that symbolic time is considered “contemporary” because of its chronological coordinates as well as its approaches and attitudes in relation to the present.
Thus, this initiative is an effort to broaden the scope of the institution in its foundational objective of public service, in the specific realm of art from Castile and Leon. However, this resolve to reach out to the surrounding community does not rule out the need to establish criteria of quality based on consensus and reasoned deliberation on the part of the groups of experts called upon for each edition. Through the plurality offered by the different viewpoints, the archive will comprise an ever-greater number of artists.
The exposure that the selected creators may garner through the Archive itself, and occasionally in other exhibition spaces of the Museum, should not overshadow a much more extensive research task developed through the Library-Documentation Centre of the MUSAC. This task carried out beforehand, which consists in the prior compilation of reference materials on the majority of active creators with documented careers dating back to 1989, is necessary for the decision-making process of the committee members, and belongs to the Museum’s documentary holdings on artists in Castile and Leon.
In turn, the sources that furnish that documentary base incorporate the institutional activity and cultural policies that, inside and out of the Community, have enabled registering exhibitions and catalogues of artists from our vicinity. The exhibition programmes, as well as the publishing projects and the events for emerging artists, are part of the History of Art in Spain and, in this way, a reflection of previous institutional endeavours that must be evaluated. This provides a basis for the investigation and creation of a plural historiography.
The Archive is therefore a working tool for the MUSAC, to which it affords information on artists and groups on which to base decisions, in matters pertaining to exhibition policies as well as those of future acquisitions for the Collection. And at the same time it is a public space for the conservation of a documentary heritage that relates the evolution of contemporary artistic practices in the Community of Castile and Leon.
About the project by Un Mundo Feliz for the MUSAC Showcases
The artist group Un Mundo Feliz, selected in 2010 to become a part of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon, has been invited to produce the design of the presentation of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon in the MUSAC’s Showcase project, which entails designing the exhibition, the graphic image of the project, and a publication that includes interviews with the first 60 artists selected for the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon about their creative endeavours and the artistic context of the Autonomous Community.
The title of the installation, A-Z (from A to Z), refers to a list of people, which is likewise a beginning and an end, and comprises the documentation of the first 60 artists selected in 2010 to be a part of the Documentary Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon.
Drawing on the quotation by Rein Wolfs “in a globalized (art) world, national identities lose their meaning”, Un Mundo Feliz poses the problem of the local and the global, selecting two local and two international politicians for the project’s graphic image.
Un Mundo Feliz has also created a specific typography for the project, MUSAC STENCIL GOTHIC, a new font that is a reworking of local and traditional concepts (gothic letters), and can be downloaded for free at http://www.musac.es
The artist group Un Mundo Feliz, directed by Sonia Díaz and Gabriel Martínez, is an activist graphic design team. The book Pictopía (published by Promopress) illustrates this well, as it includes up to 400 pictograms and illustrations that can be freely reproduced and 200 short films available in a compact disc attached to the book. Through graphic messages, their works demonstrate their stance regarding subjects such as violence, racism, homosexual rights, prisoners in Guantanamo and terrorism. “One of the key ideas with which we work”, they assert, “is the constant reinvention or reuse of images and messages in new contexts”. Un Mundo Feliz is interested in creation, production and distribution of committed images within the social and political sphere. Their purpose is to take these into the public space, from the street to the web of webs, and to create a collective forum wherein to generate debates on non-commercial ideas and issues.
According to the design historian Raquel Pelta, Un Mundo Feliz are the representatives of a new activism closely related to direct cultural action, the “do-it-yourself” methodology and an expanding visual culture that embraces elements ranging from professional projects to street graffiti. Aware of the power of signs and driven by the need to react to what Susan Sontag denominates “the pain of others” their work demonstrates an effort to understand reality and to help us understand it.
Image: Jenny Perlin, Transcript, 2006. From the series Perlin Papers 16 mm film, colous & sound. 11' 25". Courtesy of the artist.
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Opening April 10th, 2010
MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León
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