Muntean & Rosenblum
Sam Taylor Wood
"To See-To Reveal - Uses and Representations of the Unexplained" aims to analyse relationships between religion and the most extreme phenomena of popular religiosity. "God Save the Queen" is about painting in the MUSAC Collection. "Tyin tegnestue" presents architectonical shocase project.
19 September, 2015 - 10 January, 2016
To See-To Reveal
Uses and Representations of the Unexplained
Curatorship: Manuel Olveira
Coordination: Carlos Ordás
The project To See-To Reveal [Ver-(re)velar] is generated within the cultural context of a region such as Castile and Leon, where the different traditions and references and the presence of various religious manifestations have great importance in the shaping of a contextual identity. To See-To Reveal aims at showing, analysing and establishing relationships between those religious features (understanding the word religion in its original and radical sense of religare: to unite, to put in contact) and the use of the image and representations of one of the most extreme phenomena of popular religiosity: Mystic raptures, apparitions and spiritism, as well as visionary phenomena, phantasmagoria, trances, etc.
This is a reactive project, strongly related to the context of the Autonomous Community where it emerges, to the history, identities, traditions and the social and cultural environment of Castile and Leon (an aspect particularly present in Fuego en Castilla [Fire in Castile], a work by José Val del Omar), and above all to everything that escapes reason and we cannot explain scientifically. It is also linked to aspects of syncretism, popular religiosity, dependence and marginalization, or the representation of some religious imaginaries constructed as subordinate with respect to official ones or to the Enlightenment and Modern canon.
This kind of themes are very evident in one way or another in the work of many renowned artists, such as Dan Graham, Ana Mendieta, Maurizio Cattelan, Pierre Huyghe, Abdel Abdessemed, Paul Chan or León Ferrari. All of them address different aspects of religion, mysticism or spirituality from a contemporary point of view. In the case of the exhibition To See-To Reveal, specifically, those aspects focus on everything we are not able to explain (Joachim Koester’s or Gabriel Díaz’s works are good examples of it), mysticism (Val del Omar), popular scenes (Pablo García), those over-the-top facets of popular religiosity (such as apparitions and spiritistic phenomena), unknown dimensions (Marina Núñez) or randomness and things that defy our senses (Robert Breer or Michiel Ceulers). They are also associated to the construction of the representation or the image (many artists use archival material) and to the social and political horizon in which those phenomena take place (very present in Julia Montilla’s and Tamar Guimarães’ works, for instance).
In Tamar Guimarães’ and Julia Montilla’s work we see a clear exploration of the political, media and social use of mystic raptures and their interaction with the canonical Church’s law, power and authority. Indeed in both creators’ pieces, certain apparition phenomena (in Montilla’s case, the apparitions in Fátima, Portugal; in the photographical series Danza solar [Solar Dance] from 2008, or those from Ezkioga, Spain in the artist’s book Ezkiogazaleak, 2009) and mystic events (in Guimarães’ case, with her attention to the figure of the psychic, medium and psychographer Francisco Cándido Xavier, in her work A Man Called Love, 2007), appear in a clearly defined social and political horizon. Both deal with movements and expressions of popular religiosity that are not accepted by the official church and are intimately related to the dictatorships in Brazil and Spain. Also in both cases we are shown examples of a popular religiosity that is opposed to the official line (representing a bottom to top movement), but has also a reactionary attitude towards progressive changes. Against the background of Spanish and Brazilian Baroque heritage, due to its sensory stimulation and emotion-provoking dimension, religious and spiritistic paroxysm is closely connected to popular culture (psychics and mediums relate easily, although not exclusively, with less educated classes) and typically has a strong media impact (Fátima’s and Ezkioga’s apparitions or Francisco Cándido Xavier’s extrasensory perceptions were largely commented upon and widely spread by the press of the period). Because of this, in both cases it was necessary to create strong descriptions and a set of images, which, in fact, form the basis for Montilla’s and Guimarães’ works.
In many of the pieces of the selected artists, mystic, apparition and spiritistic phenomena appear as a kind of compensatory ritual for social (in Fátima’s or Ezkioga’s cases) or personal (in the case of Francisco Cándido Xavier) marginalisation, an imaginary solution to their impossible hunger for affirmation through the symbolisation of return (as in Joachim Koester’s work) and of contact with truth (Michiel Ceulers) from a simultaneously cultural, psychological and social perspective in a time of political changes and crisis. In Montilla’s and Guimarães’ previously mentioned pieces we can analyse and discuss, on the one hand, the creation of representations of popular religiosity and mysticism as a long metaphor for the return to the essential and the being. On the other, we are shown how forms of expression for a transcendental experience or a private hierophany —both very close to the mode of operation of popular religion— are developed.
All the themes addressed in the works of the selected artists are especially meaningful in a cultural space such as Castile and Leon, of a marked religiosity: most Spanish missionaries come from this region, traversed by the Way of St. James and its pilgrims and well-known for manifestations of popular religiosity such as Easter processions. In this sense, a project such as To See-To Reveal at MUSAC can be very appropriate because it deals with subject-matters that are somehow very close to wide sections of the public. Moreover, showing these works invites reflection on everything we cannot explain (animism, mysticism, apparitionism, pilgrimage, illumination, etc.), as well as on the activation of new spiritual movements and new forms of religiosity all around the globe, with a powerful influence in some popular classes. The whole has strong social and political implications, apart from some of a more private and personal character.
On the other hand, the pieces selected for this exhibition bring up for discussion the dialectics between the Modern project, heir of Reason and Enlightenment, and the expressions of mysticism, spirituality and popular religiosity that represent an alterity to that project. If Enlightenment’s reason and progress laid the foundation for a Western, Eurocentric and Exclusive Modernity, opposite references may help to lay the groundwork for new parameters (beyond a ‘critique’ to the construction of Modernity) from which to think multiculturalism, heterogeneity, syncretism and the coexistence of ‘hybrid cultures’ with which, from the ‘cultural and political’ peripheries we are redrawing the nowadays cultural map of reference. In this way, we not only make the public ‘see’ a cultural reality, but also delve into that which is ‘revealed’ by means of the creation of images and imaginaries, or, in other words, reflect on the very status of images in a society belonging to a global ‘iconosphere’ in which we must learn to see certain particularities that escape the canon, the establishment, or reason itself.
In conclusion, To See-To Reveal is an exhibition that shows and explores the different ways in which images have been produced and used to organise the knowledge of those things reason and science cannot explain, and through which the experience of perceptions and sensations that escape rational thought is shaped. The visual configurations proposed in this show reveal different attempts at representing a certain kind of knowledge via manifestations of supernatural events and descriptions and approaches to the invisible world. Quoting Rilke ("It is not the animal but the man that is blind. Blinded by consciousness, man is incapable of seeing the world.") and paraphrasing an aphorism attributed to Monet ("It is not a question of seeing what we see, because we do not see anything, but of painting what we cannot see."), we face the paradox of showing the conditions of visuality of the invisible.
19 September, 2015 - 16 December, 2015
God Save the Queen
About Painting in the MUSAC Collection
Curatorial work and coordination: MUSAC’s Registry and collection. Koré Escobar and Raquel Álvarez.
In 1977 the Sex Pistols launched a single onto the market which included "God Save the Queen", a song taking its title from the song traditionally used as the national anthem of the United Kingdom. The Pistols’ song was seen at the time as a direct attack to the Queen, and, subsequently, has passed into history as one of the freshest and cheekiest pleas for the liberation from the rigidity of established conventions.
If there has been an undisputed Queen among artistic practices in the history of art, this has been painting, which over time has had an undeniable leading role over the rest of "disciplines". So much so that, popularly, art in itself has even come to be associated with the act of painting. It will not be until the end of the 19th century, and especially from the 20th century, when a gradual dethroning of painting takes place; on the one hand, the canons laid down in modernity were attacked until they were crushed and, on the other hand, a whole series of creative technologies that would become serious candidates to occupy the position hitherto reserved for painting were developed.
Gradually, pictorial activity was reduced to degree zero and all its limits were surpassed: representation, frame, space, medium, language and even matter... Since that moment, painting has died many times to then return to life, either reinventing itself and inhabiting precisely those new conquered territories, or as trace or germ in some of the increasingly numerous and varied forms of contemporary artistic expression. Therefore, it be could said that there has been a double process of evolution: on the one hand, research and historical experimentation have provided painting with such formal and expressive freedom that it has never ceased being an option to the contemporary artist and, on the other, it has gradually relinquished its corporeality and transmuted into a quality—independent from medium and tools.
This exhibition focuses precisely in these two aspects: through works from MUSAC’s collection it aims to present the strategies of contemporary painting as heir to the previous research carried out in its adaptive evolution, as well as the contagion of its pictorial "essence"—beyond the formal resolution of each work.
To address both issues, God Save the Queen establishes a parallel with the evolutionary theory known as the "Red Queen Hypothesis", formulated in 1973 by Leigh Van Valen, according to which in an evolutionary system continuous improvement is required just to maintain status quo in relation to the other systems with which it is co-evolving. This theory could be extrapolated—with many caveats, of course—to the developments carried out by the pictorial practice in its adaptation effort in order to keep its position while new artistic practices, arising in response to technological, sociological and aesthetic progress, were developed and introduced.
The hypothesis goes on to develop the concept of "arms race" or continuous improvement against the "adversary", and speaks of the advantage of "sexual reproduction" as the method of continuation of the species, as each individual is created as an "experiment" from the mixture of their parents' genes.
To continue the parallel between the biological hypothesis and pictorial practice, the arms race would have its correlate in painting’s capacity for exposure and its willingness to go beyond its limits by constantly experimenting both in its formal and its linguistic and conceptual aspects.
For its part, sexual reproduction would refer to the reciprocal contamination between painting and other disciplines, languages and media. It is not only a crossbreeding or hybridization of disciplines, there has also been a mutual dissolution and contagion by proximity. It is precisely this viral, uncontrollable and spontaneous element the one acting as a driver of change and favouring evolution and permanence. Each artist is a product of their time, works from it, so art pieces are created as a reflection of a precise moment. Since this moment, more than any previous one, is a deeply promiscuous and non-hierarchical time, its artistic expression could not be otherwise.
Many exhibitions have dealt with these issues before and many have been accompanied by excellent critical catalogues; God Save the Queen wants to remember them and pay them tribute. In order to transpose the two proposed subject areas to the exhibition space, the exhibition is shown in two rooms. Laboratorio 987 will be showing artists who express themselves and work within painting, either addressing their concerns through painting or alluding to self-referential themes of the discipline. It will include the works of Pedro Barbeito, Toño Barreiro, Roberto Coromina, Luis Cruz, Iñaki Gracenea, Clemencia Labin, Miki Leal, Carlos Leon, Angel Masip, Sergio Prego, Néstor Sanmiguel and Vargas-Suarez Universal. All of these authors are heirs to the evolution of the previous tradition and each of them has explored different formal solutions from within painting itself. Latent in the room, there are issues such as the relationship of painting with space, the permanent dialectic between figuration and abstraction, or the reinterpretation of "classical" pictorial movements.
Room 1 of the museum includes works which both in form and in essence ‘resemble’ painting. These are works that have a ‘pictorial nature’ despite having been realized with 'extra' pictorial elements. This part includes several works that allude to painting as an idea, as an almost subconscious benchmark used when producing images. Here we will find works by artists like AVAF, Lara Favaretto, Pierre Gonnord, Anna Malagrida, Ian Monroe, Pedro Mora, Diego Movilla, Muntean & Rosenblum, Marina Núñez, Jacco Olivier, Concha Prada, Trine Sondegaard & Nicolai Howalt, Jennifer Steinkamp, Sam Taylor Wood, and Manuel Vázquez. In this room, in addition to what was said about the previous room, works will be dealing with aspects such as how to introduce time and movement in painting, the plastic values of ordinary materials, and allusions are made to two of the classical "genres" of painting: portrait and landscape.
The Pistols shouted that there was no future. The future of painting has often been called into question and yet it resists, in this long present continuous, responding to the need formulated by Rimbaud to be "absolutely modern", understanding being modern as an unbreakable alliance with contemporaneity.
For the time being, the Queen is still safe and has left the Palace.
19 September, 2015 - 7 February, 2016
Tyin tegnestue: In Detail
Curatorship: Kristine Guzmán
Coordination and Installation: Diego Penche y Alberto Reques (Fábrica Tuungóo)
Collaboration: Sara Miguélez
En su libro y exposición titulados Architecture without Architects, Bernard Rudofsky lleva la interpretación formal que de esta disciplina ha propugnado la historia de la arquitectura más allá de sus límites tradicionales y trata el arte de la construcción como un fenómeno universal. Rudofsky explora el tema de la naturaleza de la arquitectura vernácula, aquella que no es obra de especialistas sino que nace de la actividad espontánea y continua de un pueblo con una herencia común y unido como grupo con vistas a crear una experiencia colectiva.
En la terminología del arte, este tipo de experiencia comunitaria ha venido denominándose “arte basado en la comunidad” o arte público, una actividad artística caracterizada por la interacción o el diálogo con la comunidad. Desde la década de los noventa, numerosos artistas han emprendido nuevas prácticas que adoptan la forma de la intervención social, un “nuevo género de arte público” que Suzanne Lacy describe como “arte interactivo y socialmente comprometido dirigido a públicos diversos y relacionado con la política de la identidad y el activismo social”.
Un ejemplo de este tipo de arte es “Project Row Houses”, organización fundada en 1993 por el artista y activista Rick Lowe en Third Ward, uno de los barrios afroamericanos del norte de la ciudad de Houston. “Project Row Houses”, que toma su inspiración tanto del artista afroamericano John Biggers como del artista alemán Joseph Beuys, fue un exitoso experimento que logró activar los ámbitos del arte, la conservación histórica, la vivienda a precios asequibles, las relaciones comunitarias y el aumento de la autonomía del ser humano, todo ello dentro del concepto de Beuys de “escultura social”.
El joven equipo de TYIN tegnestue, un estudio cooperativo de arquitectura de Trondheim, Noruega, fundado en 2008 por Andreas G. Gjertsen y Yashar Hanstad, pertenece a una nueva generación de arquitectos que asumen el desafío de crear un tipo de arquitectura práctica en áreas desfavorecidas de todo el mundo. Empleando constructores locales sin instrucción y materiales y técnicas autóctonas, sus proyectos arquitectónicos en Tailandia, Myanmar, Haití y Uganda han servido de catalizador para diversas comunidades locales, para quienes dichos proyectos han supuesto un signo de esperanza y de cambio. Utilizando la construcción como una forma de experiencia comprometida con la comunidad, pusieron en práctica un método basado en “pensar mientras se construye”, que consiste en adaptar sus ideas a las de la comunidad local. De esta manera, TYIN ha sido capaz de construir edificios que tienen sus raíces en el lugar donde son erigidos a través de un proceso que incluye el aprendizaje mutuo y la creación de un equipo para beneficio de la propia comunidad, impulsando así el cambio social y un impacto que va más allá de las estructuras físicas.
El objetivo de la exposición es mostrar algunos proyectos relevantes de TYIN en el Sureste Asiático y otros más recientes en Noruega. En estos proyectos se pueden apreciar los cuatro valores fundamentales de su práctica: el material, el detalle, la estructura y el factor humano. Estos conceptos se materializan en artesanía, reciclaje, experimentación con nuevos materiales y una simplicidad más práctica y lógica. Y se presentan en el Proyecto Vitrinas del MUSAC donde la experimentación llevada a cabo con materiales sencillos durante su experiencia como arquitectos ha sido recopilada para crear un enorme collage dispuesto en franjas verticales en la pared. A través de unas vitrinas intercaladas en este muro se muestran maquetas, bocetos, fotografías y dibujos de los proyectos seleccionados, creando un espacio que recuerda la estética de la “Old Market Library” que realizaron en Bangkok en 2009.
Al mismo tiempo, se presenta la “TYIN Architects Toolbox”, una caja donde se pueden hallar herramientas tanto prácticas como metafóricas para otros proyectos arquitectónicos y que pueden ser aplicadas a muchas otras disciplinas.
Image: Luis Cruz Courtesy of MUSAC
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