Antonio Ballester Moreno
Angel Nunez Pombo
Angel de la Rubia
A UA CRAG Papers
Jorge Blasco Gallardo
Kore Escobar Zamora
Raquel Alvarez Rodriguez
"A Pause for Reflection - Production, Management and Creation Grants at MUSAC" an exhibition that act as a showcase for the works produced in recent years in the frame of the 6 open calls initiated between 2003 and 2011. "The A UA CRAG Papers - Against the Wall": one of the possible threads of this artistic group, based on what the documents themselves have to reveal.
A Pause for Reflection
Production, Management and Creation Grants at MUSAC
Curators: Kristine Guzmán, Manuel Olveira
Coordination: Alejandro Hernández, David Marcello
Everything that has to do with production can be considered as one of the bones of contention of contemporary culture and one of the most frequent demands of the artistic community. In order to cover these needs and with a view to activate production in the context of Castilla y León, the MUSAC has practiced an active grants policy in relation to creativity, research, education and production that has generated several projects, some of which have not been shown to the public. For the first time, the MUSAC will host an exhibition that will act as a showcase for the works produced in recent years in the frame of the six open calls initiated between 2003 and 2011.
The exhibition project A PAUSE FOR REFLECTION aims at reflecting critically on the grants policy that MUSAC has developed throughout its first years of existence, on its contribution to the weaving of an artistic and cultural fabric in the Autonomous Region of Castilla y León, on its impact in the territory and in the context, as well as on the social and artistic yield of the generated projects. At the same time, the project seeks to analyse the direction the new grants policy has to take in the near future. There is no question that art and society are dynamic entities and that, besides, the conditions in which the MUSAC started working have radically changed. That is why showing the fruits of the grants should also help to reconsider the museum’s future course of action in relation to this key factor of the art system.
It will therefore be necessary to create the appropriate conditions in which certain significant questions can arise and develop so that certain divergent and updated imaginaries can be produced, so that we can have the time to make a stop to reflect on the opportunity of what we are doing or saying in the art scene of the beginning of the millennium. This is what a show of a grants program such as MUSAC’s is offering. Far from media and market pressure, far from the urge for visibility and far from trends, a group of artists, creators, educators, historians and professionals of all the diverse fields of art and coming from different places in the world have had the chance to develop a project in line with the nature of their work and research and not indebted to institutional interests. This is the raison d’être of this exhibition of the works developed through the MUSAC’s grants program for production, creation and education between 2003 and 2011: to make a stop to find the time, space and resources needed to show and reflect, to develop well-aimed and timely questions in order to accomplish more efficiently the mission of taking the present into consideration and building strategies for the future.
These production, management and creation projects develop research lines that deeply explore both art activity itself and its significance and insertion into the fabric of society. In the selection of each of the men and women presenting the projects —beyond the quality of their proposals—, is their ability to open interesting questions in relation to the current moment the arts are living that has been decisive. The most important selection criterion has been not so much what these artists and professionals have done up to the present in the sense of points of arrival, but what their proposals let us anticipate and discern as points of departure. It is not their certainties that interest us, although they are important, but the open questions and the concerns of which the result is yet unknown. The primary aim of a production or management grants program is not finding answers because usually these are not the most stimulating or interesting at this time. The question is, rather, to find through the produced project the timely and critical questions that have allowed each of these creators and technicians to grow and advance professionally towards the future.
The generated projects should be understood as documents. Obviously, we are not dealing so much with political or social documents alluding to specific aspects of recent years’ reality, as with documents on the concerns, questions and answers belonging to the agenda of the arts. Many of these works are samplings of what is fitting today, documents on what is opportune for the present day situation, and attempts at the different possible actions and directions when it comes to face our fragile and crucial present. Therefore, this critical revision of the works and projects produced by the MUSAC can be very revealing about the current moment and about what is of importance today, but also about what is anticipated as decisive for the future.
A large number of the issues pointed out in the creations and productions shown in the exhibition are found in the current agenda of art. These works and projects seem to us like pieces of evidence for the topics that really concern us and that focus on what really matters. The works shown —and, above all, the issues articulated around them— are documents that point at what is talked about, discussed about, produced, spread around, shown and collected nowadays. All of them, notwithstanding their diversity, are presented as elements marking the subsequent development of the MUSAC’s grants program, which should be reconsidered with a view to tune it to the needs of the future we have ahead of us.
The A UA CRAG Papers - Against the Wall
18 January, 2014 - 1 June, 2014
Curatorial and coordination team: Jorge Blasco Gallardo, Koré Escobar Zamora and Raquel Álvarez Rodríguez
In collaboration with: Javier Ayarza, Miquel Cid, Rufo Criado, María Jesús de la Puente, Rafael Lamata, Alejandro Martínez Parra, Jesús Max, Pepe Ortega, Clemente Rodero, Néstor Sanmiguel, Ramón Valladolid, Julián Valle.
Based on the documents ceded by the group A UA CRAG to the Spanish autonomous community of Castilla y Leon, and deposited at the region’s Contemporary Art Museum (MUSAC), the team responsible for staging the exhibition has worked on the presentation of art practices using what always remains in their wake –including the artworks themselves, and has done so by exploring the forever complex relationships between archive and exhibition.
Furthermore, the team has sought to narrate one of the possible threads of this artistic group, based on what the documents themselves have to reveal, and without alluding to what the literature has already told us about them.
Accordingly, a selection has been made of batches of documents, without considering their origin within the archive’s classification table –albeit always leaving a trail back to their source within it- and then these documentary samples have been used to create the following array of categories:
The manner of perceiving art over the past two centuries in the guise of markets, galleries, museums, collections, etc., has been used to bring to the table the issue of the value of everything that surrounds an artwork, but which is not part of the piece itself, yet without which it would not and could not exist.
This long-standing issue of the document often appears whenever a decision has to be made as to whether it should be part of the collection or archive, and even more so in the case of works whose medium is performance or any other ephemeral variation that vanishes as soon as it is created.
These manifestations leave behind photos, invoices, production guidelines, scripts, sketches, etc., and sometimes even an actual part of the work itself.
This category has been used to select documentary samples representing the tension or stress that the aforementioned agents exert upon them; a tension that fully coincides with the problematic issue of defining the boundaries of art practice today, whereby it generates piles of documents with a diversity of usages: being directly converted into museum pieces, or consigned to a secondary role as fetishist items of huge monetary value, or simply given an administrative treatment, as they are, indeed, essential for this purpose.
This category has involved the selection of batches of documents that unveil the tools used by the group of artists to address the polysemic reality of territory.
Although the concept is admittedly complex, priority has been given to its status of “concept-tool” over and above a reflection on the term that lends its name to the category. In other words, the group’s attention to places outside the country, the explorations of working spaces, capturing in the photographic image whatever is worth remembering; in short, items depicting that “something” which appears to claim the word territory for itself, etc.
Despite being considered purely mundane documents or everyday paperwork, art in the nineties gave aesthetic value to such automatism. Nevertheless, such aestheticism would not have been possible without their true value as the foundation for any life in society, from birth to death and all stops on the journey. The practice of art is not alien to this documentary evolution, and those documents end up becoming part of a complex creation in which an artwork is sometimes produced. All within a constellation in which they cannot be ignored, as in terms of the artwork, they are often “all there is left”.
The interactions between groups of people give rise to one or more types of records that precisely refer to the ties, affections, disaffections, etc, of their members. This information cannot be disengaged from the creative task undertaken by the group, and the documents themselves record it fully and comprehensively.
Using different media, and without any bibliographical intent, this documentary collection called for the creation of this category and the grouping of the different documents that, even dispersed throughout different dossiers, narrated the way the A UA CRAG group created art, constituting an essential part of it.
This may be the most monolithic category in terms of medium, as it consists of hours of audio. If there is one characteristic feature in the way A UA CRAG created art, it is the fact they recorded their conversations, discussions, agreements, disagreements, giving rise to yards of tape in which the word plays its part in their work in a somewhat unaffected manner, within the everyday reality of people who have decided to dedicate themselves to art, and at the same time seem to be aware of the ephemeral nature of many aspects of that practice.
As the technologies of representation evolved, through to the advent of photography, there have been changes in the way creators of all kinds depict themselves. As an art genre, portraiture and self-portraiture have undergone numerous metamorphoses until, in many cases, they have become part of the work or the actual work itself. This category includes pictures of the members of A UA CRAG during the creative process. Nevertheless, they have not been considered “photos of the creative process”, but instead as a vital part of the group’s oeuvre, taking selfrepresentation to be another one of the components of their art practice.
Most of the documentary series selected for display in the exhibition were produced during the gestation and undertaking of a series of projects of artistic exchange, which the actual members of A UA CRAG referred to as “International Projects”.
These projects were experiences involving the sharing, discussion and production of art that the group undertook between 1990 and 1994; during which time an art group from abroad was invited to their hometown of Aranda de Duero, in Spain, to work in situ and hold open sessions to discuss topics of artistic interest. In turn, A UA CRAG returned the visit to the guest group’s place of origin, thereby inverting the experience.
The exhibition hall provides an “interpretation desk” with a bibliography on and by A UA CRAG, where one may learn about the group’s history and all its activities, as a complement to the work undertaken on the group’s documentation, its documentary strategies and the compilation of its archive, as the true epicentre of the display.
The group A UA CRAG and its legacy have the distinction of providing a profound insight into the relationships between life, art and paperwork/management, which come together to create an Artwork. The pieces themselves, what the eye sees, can be read as testimonies to a frenetic process of self-management in a place, Aranda de Duero (Burgos), which is far from being any kind of nerve centre, and at a time when communication was far removed from what we now know today.
Accordingly, and besides the exhibition itself, there is a programme of activities in which the team of curators and the actual members of the group will address and even challenge opinions on A UA CRAG and its legacy, as well as hand the floor over to the audience so that we may all share A UA CRAG as an experience that occurs whenever we gather to talk about it.
Far from being consigned to history, A UA CRAG is the mortar for building a living memory.
Izaskun Sebastián Tel: +34 987091103 firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSAC Contemporary Art Museum - Halls 2 & 3
Avda. de los Reyes Leoneses, 24, Leon
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Under 8 years.
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