Welcome to peepingMonster. Ruben Verdu artworks, news, and writings

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October, 20, 2016

Acts of Sedition at WhiteBox, New York

Announcement for the exhibition at WhiteBox, New York

Kyle Goen, New Flag of Iraq, 2010

Artists:Carlos Aires, Kader Attia, Wafaa Bilal, Tania Bruguera, Jim Costanzo/Aaron Burr Society, Albert Camus, Stefano Cagol, Paolo Cirio, Color Correction, Annabel Daou, Josechu Davila, Cleverson De Oliviera, Decolonize this Place, Shahram Entekhabi, Regina José Galindo, Kendell Geers, Kyle Goen, Alex Gulla, Patrick Hamilton, Barbara Hammer, Ivaylo Hristov, Stephen Lack, Marisa Jahn, Enrique Jezik, Mona Saeed Kamal, Marco Maggi, Teresa Margolles, Ferran Martin, Julia San Martin, JAŠA, Damián Ontiveros, Joe Peragine, Pasha Radetzki, Ligorano Reese, Norma Vila Rivero, Martha Rosler, Gitte Sætre, Riiko Sakkinen, Avelino Sala, Dread Scott, Joaquín Segura, Miguel Rodríguez Sepúlveda, Celia Eslamieh Shomal, Federico Solmi, S & P Stanikas, Amy Stoker, Jorge Tacla, Wojtek Ulrich, Ruben Verdu, Roberto Visani, Johan Wahlstrom and Jenyu Wang

Acts of Sedition argues that although sedition in colloquial nomenclature refers to subversive acts by individuals towards institutions of power, what has now manifested are acts of treason by those same entities against a myriad of communities and even the sacrosanct ideals that has made the U.S. a beacon and haven for tolerance, inclusivity, freedom and democracy. Violence against the African-American community, xenophobia, attempts to repeal Roe vs Wade, sexual orientation and transgender discrimination, the dominance of Superpacs in our political infrastructure that buy politicians and elections are just a few of the many acts of sedition by antidemocratic and authoritarian forces that this exhibition pushes against.

Curated by Raul Zamudio and Juan Puntes

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February, 18, 2016

La lliçó de Diògenes

Announcement for the exhibition at Tecla Sala, l'Hospitalet

L'exposició a càrrec del comissari Alex Mitrani reuneix més de seixanta obres, moltes d'elles inèdites, subtils i sorprenents, d'artistes de generacions i perfils molt diferents sota un nexe comú: les idees del filòsof grec Diògenes, que avui cobren una especial actualitat i pertinènça. Rebutjant falsos honors i riqueses, Diògenes preconitzava el despullament i manifestava de manera desacomplexada els excessos i vicis de la societat. L’art és també un camí per retrobar uns valors morals i fer una reflexió sobre l’home. Aquesta exposició vol incidir en una constant transgeneracional d’artistes catalans contemporanis que treballen des de la senzillesa per arribar a l’essència de l’acte creatiu com un camí per entendre el món i posar en evidència la vanitat del consum i de la cultura de l’espectacle.

Artistes: Ignasi Aballí / Mar Arza /Joan Bennassar / David Bestué / Alfons Borrell / Luz Broto / Patrícia Dauder / Joan Furriols / Antoni Llena / Jordi Mitjà / Marc Monzó / Jordi Pablo / Guillermo Pfaff / Lucía C. Pino / Jaume Pitarch / Ivo Sans / Daniel Steegmann / Víctor Sunyol / Rubèn Verdú / Oriol Vilapuig.

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February, 6, 2016

The Enemy Within

Announcement of the opening of the show at Área: lugar de proyectos

Muy contento también de formar parte de la muestra "The Enemy Within" en Área: lugar de proyectos de Caguas, Puerto Rico.

"The Enemy Within" es un proyecto que muestra la obra de artistas internacionales que trabajan en diversos medios, incluyendo la pintura, obra sobre papel, escultura, fotografía, vídeo e instalación. "The Enemy Within" explora la naturaleza paradójica y contradictoria de eventos historicos y políticos y cómo se mantienen interna y externamente en conflicto perpetuo.

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February, 1, 2016


Announcement of the show at the Whitebox Gallery, New York

I am very happy to be participating in #makeamericagreatagain at the Whitebox Gallery in New York. #makeamericagreatagain is a group exhibition of diverse media that will run during February and coincide with the initial Democratic and Republican primaries. The exhibition’s title is culled verbatim from Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Appropriation does not stop there, however, for #makeamericagreatagain thematically rubs up against the demagoguery prevalent in the current American social and political landscape and rhetoric espoused by primary candidates to engender fear in the American public.

The appropriated hashtag also serves as curatorial device to further expand the exhibition into social media. The exhibition-viewing public and those not physically present to see the show, will be asked to upload images or texts with the hashtag of #makamericagreatgain onto Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. These contributions will become part of the exhibition and will be interventions into existing social media sites with the same hashtag.

Curated by Raul Zamudio and Juan Puntes / Co-curated by Blanca de la Torre

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December, 25, 2015

Best Wishes to All

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

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December, 14, 2015

More Elements to be Considered when Analysing Images Produced in an Anti-Backlit Setup

Everything that faces the camera is lighted up. The production of shadows resulting from this setup is very particular and tends to emphasize outlines which cut out figures from their background with thin dark lines. It has been argued before that it tends to flatten results and emphasize conventions like the edge contours that define objects in schematic outputs.

Another result is that light, all of a sudden, takes a clearly subjective role, that of the viewer. In an anti-backlit setup, the viewer could be potentially confused with the light source since it seems to take its place in the arrangement of the optical elements that construct these types of scenes. In any down-to-earth situation —especially if we compare it with images taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite—, visual logic will always force the viewer shadow on the subject. Here, this is clearly not the case.

Showing the effect of flash shadow contours

An example of flash shadows clarly showing the thin dark contours produced by this lighting setup

The whole setup is perfectly orthogonal. Everything is in a line. The vector of sight and that of light are, de facto, overlapped. We began to have evidence of this type of optical construction only when “technical images”, as described by Vilém Flusser, started being produced at the advent of photography, to be more specific, only when the first pyrotechnic flash was developed and its users end up, for practical reasons, holding it closer and closer to the lenses. Images with this type of lighting became, therefore, a sure mark of modernity, of a different type of episteme that seems to be best represented by the surveillance and monitoring nature of the DSCOVR pictures of Earth.

Image of Earth and Moon taken by the DSCOVR satellite

Image of Earth and Moon taken by de DSCOVR satellite where everything is perfectly lined up

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December, 10, 2015

Interesting visual possibilities at Lagrange Point 1

Placement of the Lagrange Points

We must begin by pointing out that, in order to clearly illustrate the idea, the proportions of the picture above are distorted. 149.6 million kilometers separate the Earth from the Sun. L1 is at about 1.6 million kilometers from the surface of our planet at approximately four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, so L1 and L2 are much more close to Earth than pictured in the illustration and L3, L4 and L5 are, therefore, much further away. The relevant concept to grasp is that somewhere between the Earth and the Sun there is a point in which their gravitational pull cancel out. That point is a perfect place to stabilize a surveillance device that moves anchored to the orbit of the Earth. She moves the device along with her keeping it always at gravitational neutral point in relation to the Sun.

If this device focuses its lenses on our planet, it creates an interesting point of observation in which light arrives perfectly aligned from the back and projects, because of the distance and minuscule size of the device, no observable shadow on the subject it illuminates, Earth in this case. NASA has placed a surveillance device in L1, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. Its pictures of Earth clearly demonstrate the characteristic element of such images, they produce little amounts of shadows and send us, therefore, perfectly lighted full disc images of our planet.

To see the most recent images of Earth from L1 click here.

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December, 6, 2015

Henri Focillon, Éloge de la main

Cover of the new edition of the book

While researching some questions related to The Armed. The Gravity of Writing, I've stumbled upon this short text by Focillon. I've translated a small part of it hoping to use it in an essay that I'm currently beginning to write. Voilà! Here it is…

"La possession du monde exige une sorte de flair tactile. La vue glisse le long de l‘univers. La main sait que l‘objet est habité par le poids, qu‘il est lisse ou rugueux, qu‘il n‘est pas soudé au fond de ciel ou de terre avec lequel il semble faire corps. L‘action de la main définit le creux de l‘espace et le plein des choses qui l‘occupent. Surface, volume, densité, pesanteur ne sont pas des phénomènes optiques. C‘est entre les doigts, c‘est au creux des paumes que l‘homme les connut d‘abord. L‘espace, il le mesure, non du regard, mais de sa main et de son pas. Le toucher emplit la nature de forces mystérieuses. Sans lui elle restait pareille aux délicieux paysages de la chambre noire, légers, plats et chimériques."

"The possession of the world demands a kind of tactile acumen. Sight glides across the universe. The hand knows that objects are inhabited by weight, that some are smooth and some rough, that they are not welded to the sky or ground onto which they seem attached. The action of the hand defines the emptiness of space and the plenitude of the things that occupy it. Surface, volume, density and gravity are not optical phenomena. Since the very beginning, this is how man has apprehended these objects, between his fingers, in the depth of his palms. He measures space not at a glance but with his hands and steps. Touch imbues nature with mysterious forces. Without it, she looks like the delightful landscapes of the darkroom, flimsy, flat and chimerical."

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November, 5, 2015

Algunas refexiones sobre Frames Rocío de Federico García Trujillo

View of one of the flip machines of the show

En julio de 1980, se estrena en el cine Bellas Artes de San Sebastián Rocío de Fernando Ruiz Vergara, un documental que registra la famosa romería del Rocío desde una dimensión antropológica de la que aflora, a su vez, un fondo socio-político que corresponde al de un país en un momento de transformación histórica. La crítica y el público enseguida reconoce la calidad y el valor artístico de la obra que rápidamente empieza a recibir premios y elogios. Se hace primero con el premio al mejor largometraje del I Festival de Cine Internacional de Sevilla, y seguidamente es seleccionada por el Ministerio de Cultura, junto con Ópera prima de Fernando Trueba, para representar a España en el Festival de Cine de Venecia. A esas primeras reacciones le siguen, sin embargo, una serie de sucesos que demuestran la acción encubierta de ciertos sectores de poder fáctico heredero del régimen en una España que parecía no estar decidida a hacer sus transiciones. El anuncio del Ministerio de Cultura se quedó solo en eso, en un titular, y el 23 de febrero de 1981 (sí, el mismo día del golpe de estado) la familia de José María Reales Carrasco presenta una querella por injurias graves y escarnio a la religión católica. El juez ordena finalmente el secuestro de todas las copias de Rocío pasando así a ser la primera película censurada en democracia.

La carga sintomática del material en cuestión evidencia todavía más el silencio continuo que la pretendida democracia española ha tenido y tiene que soportar para acallar el afán de justicia que clama en términos de memoria histórica. Si el olvido impuesto por las fuerzas del tardofranquismo español no solo queda plasmado en el dictamen judicial, sentenciando que «la vivencia de la guerra civil española es tan fuerte que impide considerar los hechos ocurridos en la misma como pertenecientes a la historia», lo más obtuso es que esa opinión se consagre en el presente porque la validez legal de la sentencia continua hoy y acabaría siendo ratificada por el Tribunal Supremo. Así pues, el argumento judicial sostiene que para que haya historia primero debe darse el olvido. Esa es la lógica a la que Federico García Trujillo ha estado siempre enfrentándose y que ha meticulosamente diseccionando en Frames Rocío.

El olvido es una segunda muerte. Lo interesante del episodio, lo realmente paradójico y espeluznante, es que la censura se aplica a un material que fue previamente censurado por el propio director y su equipo de posproducción y así aparece, sorprendentemente y sin tapujos, en la versión original del documental. Hay un momento en el que la atención se dirige a como se produce el intercambio simbólico de permitir el provisional caos de las masas enaltecidas por el fervor a la figura de la virgen a cambio de una tácita obediencia el resto del año a las jerarquías y a las estructuras de explotación social que existen en la región desde hace siglos. Esa tensión se pone sobretodo de manifiesto en el momento en el que Pedro Gómez Clavijo, un viejo vecino de Almonte, lugar donde se celebra la romería, narra como ocurrieron ciertos crímenes fascistas durante la guerra civil y señala a José María Reales Carrasco, prominente terrateniente y fundador de la Hermandad de la Virgen del Rocío de Jerez, como autor de los hechos. Cuando pronuncia su nombre el director decide aplicar un corte de sonido mientras aparece en pantalla una fotografía del acusado con una franja negra sobre su rostro, protegiendo así su identidad. Todo el mundo sabe, sin embargo, quienes fueron esos verdugos. Eso no se olvida.

Sí, el olvido es una segunda muerte y cuando se impone por la fuerza deberíamos considerarlo un asesinato. Al toparse con ese corpus delicti, Federico García Trujillo se apresura a reanimarlo. Sabe que devolverle la vida a esas memorias es siempre un proceso frankensteiniano, un proceso implícito en la estructura cinematográfica, que no es otro que un suturar pedazos para que se nos vuelvan a presentar las cosas como si estuvieran vivas, una y otra vez, con la misma insistencia de lo que no se olvida nunca. Para García Trujillo, la reanimación de esos dos minutos de material censurado conlleva una labor manual de primer orden, no solo como intento de eludir la vigencia de la sentencia judicial que prohíbe presentar el material censurado en público, sino también como estrategia de resistencia al espectáculo y a la banalización derivada del acceso fácil al consumo. Hay cosas de la memoria que no pueden convertirse en simple y grosera moneda de cambio, en ese mercantilismo político del “si olvidáis tendréis democracia”.

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August, 14, 2015

The Armed. Eye-Hand Coordination

Eyes of The Armed Hand of The Armed stringed

The main feature of The Armed is to enhance, at different levels, the replication of the eye-hand coordination habilities that set the stage to the epistemological conquest of the world. A way to picture the notion of the "gravity of writing" is, no doubt, one that emphasizes the importance of the human adquisition of an erect posture. The first thing, if anything, that that precarious and defying act turns on is the freeing of our eyes and hands, a pairing development aimed to share a destiny of radical consequences. We should try here not only to agree with the widespread notions that anthropologists convey to us; it should also be remembered that Freud makes explicit mention of this event as one that shapes all future psychological mechanisms of the Homo species, especially those related to the pathological nature of acculturation.

The hand of The Armed grabbing a pencil

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July, 27, 2015

The Armed Progress

Progress documentation of The Armed A second progress documentation of The Armed

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July, 8, 2015

The Armed Proposal

Design for proposal for collaboration

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July, 2, 2015

A Collaboration with José Antonio Arcediano

Two publications of poems by Jose Antonio Arcediano

I'm very excited to start a new project in collaboration with the poet José Antonio Arcediano. The intended motivation for such appointment is that of exploring a production combining both poetry and sculpture, a seemingly innocent proposition.

Right from the start, we've tried to argue for a certain notion of origins. Here, the object oriented concept of sculpture is clearly closer to the category of image than that of tool. Human production has been mostly considered in those two terms, the semiotic and the instrumental, even though most objects of human production combine both aspects in them. In our conversations, therefore, we've found our practices fitting Flusser's lineage of human epistemological milestones, except that we consider poetry a kind of regression into an iconographic stage. Its lineal development is more concerned with the production of a magical collapse of categories typical of images than to the concatenation of cause-and-effect operations that characterize conceptual thinking. Our poetics will explore that borderline space where differences between image and writing are more blurred and difficult to be seen.

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June, 17, 2015

El fulgor

A desert view at night

Cuando se precipita el accidente, cuando cae por los derrubios de un nuevo horizonte, no solo se confirma la naturaleza transitoria del momento, sino que se hace de forma significativa, se hace generando la certeza de un reconocimiento. El efecto traumático del accidente solo sirve para cristalizar la impronta de ese reconocimiento.

Aunque sigamos con los ojos bien abiertos, aunque sigamos dirigiendo la mirada lejos, tan lejos que nunca nos podremos acercar a constatar la naturaleza, los detalles, la autoridad de lo que vemos, nada será ya suficiente. Seguiremos dándole vueltas a un envoltorio anunciante, seguiremos instalados en lo previo, inmersos en un entorno de sugerencias, de aperitivos, sin poder satisfacer, en lo mínimo, nuestra hambre epistemológica.

Admitámoslo: no solo de luces vive el ser humano. Nuestros ojos no se nutren de pequeños destellos en la lejanía. Se nutren de otro fulgor, de un fulgor intenso, tan intenso como depredador, tan intenso que a él no se le puede dirigir la mirada. Con hacerlo, se acaba todo.

También el ojo tuvo su primer día, un día accidentado, desde luego. ¿Te has preguntado nunca, si antes de ese día, existía nada de esto? Al final, admitámoslo también, solo es él quien nos empuja hacia afuera, solo es él quien nos anima a salirnos del entorpecimiento matérico que nos confina a este rincón del universo.

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May, 28, 2015

Algunas refexiones sobre Realismo de David Bestué

View of Realismo at La Capella

El cálculo siempre ha sido el fundamento de la ingeniería. Con él, se trata de dar respuesta a una necesidad básica: asegurar la permanencia en el tiempo de todas esas estructuras que se ensamblan, alzan o desplazan y que desafían la conclusión irremediable de la segunda ley de la termodinámica, esa que lo simplifica todo hasta la nada absoluta. Construir y mantener estables esas complejidades siempre conlleva un gran esfuerzo porque, normalmente, se tiende a obedecer ese colapso entrópico. Ésta debería ser la esencia última, el estado final de las cosas ¿verdad? Después del Big Bang, deberíamos hablar entonces del Perpetuo Desgaste. Pues no, esas cosas que nos llaman la atención, mientras lo siguen siendo, mientras perduran, configuran la experiencia de lo real, presumen de insistencia y de ahí que sintamos que lo real pertenece a la categoría de lo obstinado.

Para empezar esta edición de BCN Producció’15, David Bestué nos invita a explorar un conjunto de obras que el artista reúne bajo el título Realismo. «Realismo» es un término duro, intransigente. En España, desde principios del siglo XIX, se estudia en la Escuela de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos que tiene su sede a pocos metros del Palacio de la Moncloa y donde se imparten estudios que combinan los rigores del cálculo con el de las ciencias empresariales. No es de extrañar que esa combinación, en una profesión casi exclusivamente ejercida por hombres y que ha convertido a tantos de ellos en los más ricos e influyentes del país, haya dado tanto de sí entre las jerarquías del poder político y haya marcado tanto el rumbo histórico de la nación. Pues a ese realismo intransigente, a esa mercancía de compra y venta exclusiva, llevada a cabo en los despachos ministeriales, en consejerías y en los palcos presidenciales de algún equipo de futbol, se le ha añadido, en las últimas décadas, un elemento de libertad inesperada: la computarización de los sistemas de cálculo y la tecnificación de la construcción. Bajo esa nueva circunstancia, empezó a desprenderse del encorsetamiento de prácticas anteriores y a adoptar cierto aire de frivolidad formal que se adaptaría perfectamente a la necesidad de una simbología que ansiaba mostrar, según dicen, el progreso del país, pero que, en muchos casos, acabó mostrando la grandilocuencia fanfarrona con la que se pagó la osadía de ciertos proyectos. Y así, sin que esa práctica desinhibida de la ingeniería lo meditara mucho, se invocó la escultura como referente formal de ese experimento y Bestué, sorprendido por las discrepancias de esa comparación, empezó a preguntarse evidentemente si no deberíamos, desde la perspectiva crítica del arte, analizar este repentino interés.

Aunque, como dice él mismo dice, Realismo apunta a que, en las obras expuestas, «el peso, equilibrio o gravedad no se representan, [sino que] SON» y que debemos tomar buena nota de ello, esta inevitabilidad da paso también a un universo donde aparecen mezcladas una serie de alusiones a diversos mundos extratécnicos y de cálculo sumamente escurridizo. Tarde o temprano, nos veremos interpelados a tomar varias líneas de fuga: la arqueología, el paroxismo especulativo de la historia y la construcción de nación que se asocia a ella; la medida corporal del espacio, o la experiencia que se deriva de sobrepasar esa escala humana; las consecuencias de la imposición de estándares y la eliminación de desviaciones locales; la condición de ruina que conllevan las arquitecturas deshabitadas del extrarradio; la explotación literaria de ese imaginario entrópico que caracteriza la morfología geológica de este país; que, entre otras, nos ayudarán a discernir el valor de la épica postindustrial que nos rodea.

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December, 28, 2014

Punch Tweety! One of those rubber bracelets

Drafting of rubber bracelet

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November, 29, 2014

*SEKW- en Cyan Gallery, Barcelona

Para exponer el marco conceptual de la muestra, Alex Brahim, su comisario, ha elaborado un texto que me gustaría reproducir a continuación y que refleja la compleja polisemia de las distintas propuestas y su capacidad de incidir en el debate del nacionalismo.

*sekw- surge como respuesta coyuntural a la idea generalizada de que los agentes del arte y la cultura tienen un nulo pronunciamiento en el debate sobre la posición de Cataluña frente al Estado español. Pese al monopolio del tema en la esfera pública por parte de políticos y medios de comunicación, sí que existe una genealogía reciente de trabajos que desde el arte contemporáneo catalán, sobre todo emergente, han aportado señalamientos, reflexiones, discursos y acciones inspirados en la construcción de lo catalán y lo español.

*sekw- repasa unos cuantos de ellos, a partir de una constelación verbal que es la cartografía de un sustrato compartido: una raíz común al castellano y el catalán, fuente etimológica de múltiples vocablos que designan dinámicas de organización social, fórmulas y estructuras de relación y estamentos de representación visual.

*sekw-, antes que tomar partido o privilegiar cualquier posición o discurso, se plantea como un relato  coral y polifónico, en consonancia con la imposibilidad real de una voz unívoca o totalizante a la hora de concebir las identidades territoriales. Una pluralidad que trasciende la delimitación del cuerpo social a la medida de unos intereses políticos desacreditados como representatividad del conjunto de la ciudadanía, como garantes de su bienestar.  Un diálogo de múltiples posiciones que incide en el territorio físico y simbólico, precisamente, como espacio para el arraigo desde la construcción colectiva en la diferencia, cuestionando al final el modelo mismo de estado-nación como ente esencial y a sus representaciones como régimen identitario.

Habitamos una zona de fricción histórica que trasciende nuestros límites geopolíticos inmediatos, acompañada del exterminio de una estructura solidaria comprometida con una equidad social razonable. Un escenario de incertidumbre perfecto para la desconfianza y la manipulación del sentir ciudadano, para dibujar torres de babel, profetizar holocaustos, proferir amenazas o erigir sofismas de distracción. Confundir, dividir, enfrentar… ¿Cuál es la lucha que nos corresponde? ¿Dónde y cómo sucede lo real, con sus matices, más allá de la intencionalidad direccionada de los relatos en blanco o negro? Probablemente es ese el lugar donde el arte cobre más sentido, en la en la interpretación crítica de lo público, el cuestionamiento de sus jerarquías, en la puesta en circulación de herramientas para la redefinición misma del espacio que ocupa el valor.

*sekw- el recorrido
*sekw- toma como punto de partida la raíz indoeuropea homónima para articular un recorrido por obras y proyectos de artistas de Barcelona que en los últimos años han tocado la cuestión catalana o el asunto de lo español. La muestra navega, en clave visual, entre los casi cincuenta términos provenientes de este origen compartido, a través de un repertorio donde las fronteras entre lo auto y lo anti se diluyen al versar sobre Cataluña y España, sobre sus construcciones y modelos de representación.   

A manera de introducción lo evidente: la perversión de los símbolos nacionales desde la contaminación con la cultura popular en el vídeo Tothom estima a Catalunya (2012) de Ana García-Pineda, respuesta a un encargo de TV3 con motivo de la Diada, donde memorables escenas de películas de suspense y terror rinden irónico homenaje a la leyenda del origen de la senyera, en una clave autocrítica que la autora entiende como propia del carácter catalán, y en la Intervención sobre el escudo de armas del Estado español (2010-2014) de la Obra Social Son Goku, donde la simple sustitución de los signos históricos por los del videojuego Super Mario empobrece una autoridad institucional que ahora aparece juguetona, como un chiste acerca de sus propias aspiraciones.

La carga iconográfica continúa, ahora desde la expresión de la colectividad: en el proyecto Més que un club (2011) de Antoni Hervás, a través del dibujo y el vídeo, la ficción y la afición se funden con las creencias y la tradición; el Barça, Montserrat y el santo grial dan rienda suelta a una historia simbólica y romántica de Cataluña a partir de sus propios mitos. Aún en clave pop, salpicado de humor y desde su dialéctica meta-artística, Narcís Díaz Pujol revisa la senyera y sugiere la posibilidad de la bandera española como un close-up de ésta en las pinturas Lucy McKenzie apareciendo en una bandera catalana y Zoom de Lucy McKenzie apareciendo en una bandera catalana (2013).

El soporte editorial, con amplia tradición en las prácticas artísticas contemporáneas catalanas, da cuerpo a los fanzines La Catalunya Triomfant (2012) de Efrén Álvarez y Antonio Gagliano, un ácido e incendiario viaje hacia el centro de los poderes catalanes, dirigido a unos presuntos turistas de un país lejano cuyo desarrollo no se basa en la cultura del capital, y La línea sin fin (2013-2014) de Andrea Valdés y David Bestué, un recorrido en seis entregas que relee con perspicacia al acontecer de la historia catalana desde 1873 hasta 2030, haciéndola pendular entre la cáustico y lo poético.

También a través del editorial en su Quadern per a l’educació en el nacionalisme català (2011) Nano Orte propone una pedagogía nacionalista dirigida a la infancia, al límite entre la exaltación de la catalanidad y la crítica mordaz al discurso dominante y sus formas. Por su parte, en Hacer piña (2012) Mariokissme desarrolla una intervención pública en la que el yugo y las flechas y una serie de expresiones tomadas de una entrevista al Presidente de la Asociació d’Artistes Visuals de Catalunya sobre el nuevo centro de arte son impresos en tinta rascable, formando un póster doble para llevar que deja en manos del usuario la posibilidad de hacerles, o no, desaparecer.

En la performance Discurs a la joventut catalana (2011), cuya documentación gráfica se presenta, Juan David Galindo replicaba el discurso de Hitler a las juventudes nazis de 1934, cambiando las referencias a Alemania por Cataluña, una ficha de canje que podría funcionar igual con tantas otras nacionalidades y que acabó recibiendo el aplauso de los asistentes.

También una edición, Time Theft (2010) de Esther Planas, producto expandido del proyecto homónimo sobre el carácter cíclico de la historia, las historias ocultas de Barcelona y los vestigios de la guerra civil, da pie al archivo web que aquí se presenta: No Spain KV 5/38-13/A Spain No (2012-hoy), proyecto cuasi-inédito donde Planas centraliza diversos materiales relacionados con el análisis crítico de España como una mordaz construcción de orden ficticio. Mediante su habitual fuerza iconográfica, con el vídeo Made in Spain (2014) y el objeto textil Bufanda Made in Spain (2014) -producto expandido de una performance homónima- Ramón Guimaraes propone una mirada rotunda y en clave poética a una España negra cuyo futuro se debate entre el desvanecimiento y la horca.

Con el carácter incisivo, desenfadado y gamberro propio de su trabajo, en Catalunya Avui (2014), obra específica para esta exposición Victor Jaenada hace un manifiesto al desencanto que enfrenta un joven artista de la ciudad ante las estructuras democráticas, económicas e institucionales de la Cataluña del aquí y ahora, apelando además a temas polémicos y de candente actualidad como la consulta independentista del 9N. Por su parte en Freedom for Catalonia (2013-2014) de Quim Packard reaparece la iconografía del videojuego, concretamente Final Fantasy III, en dibujos de apariencia ingenua donde colapsan con más ironía que inocencia lo grandilocuente y la humildad, la épica libertaria y una deliberada economía de recursos.

Anunciando la ruptura de esta relación hasta aquí de dos y su solución de continuidad, encontramos tres piezas de audio del proyecto sonoro Voz Mal (2012) de Jaume Ferrete y de su deriva escénica. Polla rumana, Verdadera voz y Micrófono humano introducen la idea del cuerpo del sujeto como elemento del cuerpo social, dando paso a lo imposible de una identidad estable y absoluta; a otros que también están pero parecen no ser, como la población lgbtq o la migrante, y a la noción de voz colectiva.

Adentrándonos en las profundidades de estas fisuras en la relación dual encontramos la instalación Lo que nos une (2011) de R. Marcos Mota, un alegato acerca de la ruptura generacional respecto a cualquier aspiración nacional, así como a la vigente distancia de los terceros sexos frente al resto de mortales más allá de estos regímenes. A su vez el contundente vídeo Cc13 (2013) de Daniela Ortiz + Xose Quiroga recoge el pasado esclavista y monárquico de los centros de poder aún vigentes en la sociedad catalana, en franca confrontación con la ciudadanía durante la celebración de la Vía catalana, para acabar en un señalamiento a la nulidad de la población migrante ante cualquier asunto de orden nacional; dejando claro, además, que su análisis de este escenario no admite suspicacias o instrumentalización alguna en términos nacionalistas o totalitarios.

Atomizado el ciclo España-Cataluña la idea de estado-nación se repliega sobre sí misma, en un final que sugiere la vuelta al origen, a la raíz, al *sekw-, seguir… Para reencontrar la tierra y el territorio en el cuaderno pedagógico Construir el Lloc (2011), producto del proyecto ¡Cataluña termina aquí! ¡Aquí empieza Murcia! (2011) de Sitesize, que articula una serie de conocimientos y experiencias en torno a la auto-organización y los procesos de pedagogía emancipatoria como patrones de arraigo y sistemas de desarrollo desde la colectividad, apuntando a que el lugar lo construyen las personas y sus relaciones y no las delimitaciones políticas ni sus símbolos. Finalmente estos símbolos al completo se llenan de tierra en la iconoclasta instalación Mud Flag (2013) de Rubén Verdú, una bandera íntegramente cubierta de barro que los visitantes han de sortear en el espacio. Un punto de inflexión, la total negación de los símbolos como estandartes de una colectividad cohesionada. Un gesto de nihilismo allí donde el ciclo biológico -la tierra- vuelve a comenzar.

Mud Flag as shown in the show


Si bien *sekw- recala en una amplia selección de autores y trabajos, resulta pertinente comentar otras piezas y proyectos que por motivos espaciales, logísticos y propios de la narración planteada no forman parte de la exposición.

Una deriva importante la constituyen obras que se centran en el episodio específico del fin de la dictadura y el comienzo de la transición, momento sin duda crucial en la sucesión histórica que constituye el hoy de España. En History as a story (2009) Fran Meana disponía en un equilibrio de apariencia frágil cinco fotografías de archivo que parecerían formar una cruz; en la base la tumba de Franco y en la cima un Adolfo Suárez sudoroso, separados por imágenes tal vez más casuales que determinantes.

También recurren a la apropiación de archivo Carmen (2012), donde Lúa Coderch rescata la fotografía de Carmen Polo de Franco votando en el plebiscito de 1976, acompañada de una reflexión sobre las posibles derivas políticas que hubiese podido tomar España en aquel entonces, así como La sonrisa de la Reina (2012) de Miquel García, donde un reportaje sobre la coronación del Rey en un diario original de 1975 es intervenido rascando el papel hasta hacer desaparecer todas las caras, salvo el radiante y sonriente rostro de la Reina Sofía. Por su parte el proyecto procesual El mundo de los vencedores (2012-2014) de Ignasi Prat Altimira recurre a la investigación notarial para dar con las residencias de los máximos representantes del régimen franquista, para luego elaborar un elocuente documento fotográfico sobre estas arquitecturas y sus connotaciones ideológicas a partir de la estética de sus vistas exteriores.

Una mención especial merece la capacidad de Martí Ansón, autor con amplia trayectoria, para incidir en los rasgos culturales de la catalanidad mediante la esencialidad del cotidiano, las historias de vida y cierta ética de lo posible en los márgenes del arte, evidente en su instalación Pavelló Català. Arquitecte anònim (2013) que este 2014 acogió diversas actividades durante su itinerancia en la Fundació Sunyol de Barcelona. También de reconocida trayectoria, Luis Bisbe ha abordado mediante su habitual uso de la transliteración y la transferencia visual la temática de los símbolos y la identidad en España y Cataluña. Despañolización (2013), versión en negativo de la bandera española, o Translegitimation (2013), en la que conjuga la senyera con la bandera española y la bandera catalana con la de la España franquista, se suman a su actual instalación Actualidad rabiosa (2014), que puede visitarse en etHALL hasta el mes de diciembre.    

Igualmente, de forma reciente cabe destacar la instalación Plaça (2014) –actualmente en la exposición Nonument del MACBA- del artista, arquitecto e investigador literario Víctor Pimstein, en la que plantea la reconversión urbanística de la actual Plaza Cataluña y un amplio radio a su alrededor en la Plaça de la Lluita, acompañándola de un alegato histórico -no exento de ironía- que justifica lo consecuente de la propuesta.

Nota: Pueden indagarse voces del sector artístico en torno a la cuestión española-catalana en la edición Cómo explicar Cataluña a una liebre muerta del magazine de A*Desk, con intervenciones de Martí Perán, Martí Manen, Oriol Fontdevila, Josep Ma. Minguet, Peio Aguirre, Eloy Fernández Porta y Juan Canela, quien trazaba en Catalonia is Hot Spain una genealogía por este tipo de trabajos, vinculándolos a su propia reflexión sobre el asunto nacionalista.

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November, 27, 2014

Algunas refexiones sobre Maze Walkthrough de Serafín Álvarez

En la ciencia ficción, las formas de pasaje y travesía son esenciales porque en la mayoría de los casos la tensión narrativa de ese género recae en alguna experiencia de alienación, éxodo o viaje. El imaginario popular concibe también la ciencia ficción como ejercicio de especulación con valor futurible y esta ambición a menudo nos impone una condición: el avance tecnológico. Al final, este avance se convierte, sin muchas objeciones al respecto, en el factor consubstancial de la ficción misma, de aquello que inevitablemente creemos que ocurrirá mañana. En la ciencia ficción, esa sensación queda principalmente reflejada en la extrema evolución tecnológica que muestran los medios de transporte y que, en clara desincronización con otros aspectos de la trama, transcienden las limitaciones físicas de nuestro mundo y nuestra dependencia orgánica de él. En esa nave, somos capaces de llegar a cualquier parte. Una vez llegados, ya nos someteremos al extrañamiento de rigor, a lo típico de ese género cinematográfico. Solo entonces, se nos hará evidente la importancia del viaje, de cómo hemos llegado hasta ahí, de ese momento parentético que se lleva a cabo a toda pastilla, cruzando distancias impensables y colapsando la inconmensurabilidad del universo.

Intuyendo la brutalidad de esas prisas, Serafín Álvarez nos propone recorrer una serie de pasillos extraídos de varias películas de ciencia ficción. A pesar de habernos instalado cómodamente en la abrumadora hipertrofia de las dimensiones cósmicas, a menudo se nos olvida que las estructuras que conectan origen y destino son las que permiten el desplazamiento. El pasillo se convierte, por lo tanto, en una especie de primer síntoma. Entramos en él para ponernos en circulación. Es un espacio desarraigado, sin propietario. Es nexo, conjunción, metáfora de proceso, de cambio, de tránsito y de transición. En él, ni se empieza ni se acaba. Para Álvarez, en Maze Walkthrough se hace «apología del entre-medio». El pasillo es sobre todo una arquitectura de paso, esa es su naturaleza comunicante. Los cuerpos que la utilizan son empujados a ponerse en movimiento, a mostrarse acelerados. Si la ambigüedad no-concluyente del pasillo se desliga de lugares de partida y llegada, se crea entonces una arquitectura en suspensión, en bucle, sin salida. Entramos en el laberinto perfecto. Para salir tendremos que teletransportarnos de nuevo a la realidad prosaica del estar simplemente sentados a este lado de la pantalla.

Esa vuelta, ese regreso a la silla, nos deja también clara la intención de explorar ese tránsito que nos obliga a emprender lo «virtual». Maze Walkthrough se construye en clave de videojuego, poniendo en evidencia como actúan algunos de esos mecanismos que piden la atención inequívoca del ojo y nos permiten, tras desactivar dudas, adentrarnos en la experiencia de lo creíble. Hay un mecanismo que está estrechamente relacionado con la elección de estos corredores. Al adentrarnos en Maze Walkthrough, llama mucho la atención observar como, de golpe, cada vez que se nos presenta la posibilidad de entrar en un pasillo nuevo, se abren las profundidades de un espacio con unas características muy específicas. La forma como estos pasillos repiten sus elementos, tanto estructurales como decorativos, uno detrás de otro, escalándose en la distancia como si de marcos dentro de marcos dentro de marcos se tratara, nos recuerda la puesta en escena de un estricto mise en abyme. Enseguida nos damos cuenta que, en realidad, perseguimos un punto de fuga, que nos estamos perdiendo en una caída constante. La pantalla se convierte en un portal que nos succiona ópticamente hacia dentro. Nos encontramos inmersos en una interminable visión en túnel que nos absorbe y nos fuerza a transgredir la frontera del plasma.

Os podeis descargar Maze Walkthrough aquí.

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July, 15, 2014

Domèstica 3

An apartment almost untouched since its construction has been emptied revealing its mysterious life story. This home will have a new inhabitant for one day: Domèstica 3. An exhibition that will finish with an intimate concert that will lead us to its gran finally event, a “free for all” where everybody takes home the art works they fancy best.

Announcing Domèstica 3

For this third edition of Domèstica, I went through the necessary steps to replicate a classic Marlboro pack, leaving, from the onset, some unnecessary elements out. The whole thing, moreover, was kept scrupulously shrink-wrapped and with its peel tab untouched, a detail that I wish to underline. Shrink wrap seems to shroud the whole thing with a certain degree of detachment, as if nothing interfered in the automated process of production. I leave you here some pics related to the process. Voilà!

The layout and final outcome of Peak

Peak. Painted paper and celophane wrap

Peak in context

Somewhere between Pere Lobera and Rasmus Nilausen ;)))

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July, 11, 2014

Algunas refexiones sobre Es una escena en la que yo mismo actúo de Luis Bezeta

General view of the exhibition at La Capella

En 1939, en completo apogeo de su carrera y en vísperas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el realizador de cine Jean Renoir presenta La Règle du Jeu (La regla del juego). Renoir estrena la cinta en el Colisée de París el 7 julio y en septiembre las tropas alemanas, que ya habían invadido Checoslovaquia en marzo, invaden Polonia. Consciente del escenario bélico que estaba a punto de desatarse, Renoir dirige esta comedia costumbrista no solo para satirizar las veleidades morales de la clase alta, sino que parece también, desde una perspectiva más histórica, querer hacer hincapié en la atonía política con la que las democracias europeas se enfrentaron al fascismo. Aunque hoy, por ésta y muchas otras razones, La Régle du Jeu se considera una de las mejores películas de la historia del cine, las vicisitudes de su historia no fueron nunca a favor de que se diera esa circunstancia. Desde el principio, en medio de una polarización ideológica pre-bélica, las reacciones del público y la crítica fueron siempre contrarias a la cinta. El día del estreno intentaron quemar el Colisée que mantuvo la película en cartel solo tres semanas. Y así continuó su suerte. Poco después, el gobierno francés la prohibiría por «mórbida e inmoral» y, finalmente, en 1942, durante un bombardeo aliado, se destruye completamente el negativo original. Catorce años después, solo a través del tozudo esfuerzo de dos entusiastas del cine, se hallaron partes de negativos, copias y mezclas de sonido que, con los consejos del mismo Renoir, se editan en la versión contemporánea que la encumbra finalmente a la gloria.

Para Luis Bezeta, sin embargo, el fin, ese final, esa relación de vacío con la obra, no termina ahí. A través de una entrevista que le hacen a Renoir años después, Bezeta descubre que, a esa última edición de la película, le falta una parte que nunca se pudo recuperar y nos propone, en Es una escena en la que yo mismo actúo, explorar ese concepto de ruina y catástrofe cinematográfica que parece haber impregnado toda la historia material de La Régle du Jeu. A partir de ahí, siguiendo las escuetas anotaciones contenidas en la entrevista y las informaciones derivadas de un trabajo minucioso de investigación en la Cinemateca Francesa de París, Bezeta proyecta el trabajo de reconstrucción de esa pérdida, un extenso plano panorámico de veinte segundos en el que el propio Renoir encarnando el papel de Octave discutía junto con otro personaje los impulsos libidinales de las sirvientas.

El carácter ecfrástico con el que Renoir nos recuerda las formas de ese fragmento irrecuperable de su obra nos coloca de nuevo ante la pregunta: ¿Qué necesidad obedece reconstruir la escena si ya tenemos conocimiento de sus detalles y su función en la totalidad de la obra? Más allá de reprimir una pulsión iconoclasta, o de suplir relleno a un mero horror vacui, la decisión de Bezeta responde a un criterio de simple accesibilidad, de romper las barreras de una distancia que solo está para inyectar carga aurática a un objeto que se ha convertido, con los años, en artefacto de culto. Si el concepto de cultura popular solo es concebible a partir de la copia, ¿hasta donde nos permitimos desplegar la necesidad de ese simulacro? Lo interesante, en este caso, es que aquí la necesidad del simulacro se produce en términos de relación del autor con su obra. Para Renoir, encarnar el papel de Octave adquiere valor sintomático. Octave es el personaje que dirige todo el entramado de relaciones que se desarrollan en la cinta. Renoir es Octave para poder penetrar en el mundo de Les Caprices de Marianne, la comedia de Alfred de Musset que inspira inicialmente La Régle du Jeu, y desde ahí familiarizarse con la sensación alienante de una clase movida solo por un individualismo hedonista. En Es una escena en la que yo mismo actúo, Bezeta incide precisamente en la necesidad de ese simulacro.

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April, 22, 2014

Contempo 2014. International Contemporary Art Festival. Varna, Bulgaria

Announcement for Contempo 2014

ИЗЛОЖБА 25.04-10.05
градска художествена галерия - каравелов 1
дамата с x-rey очи - куратор раул замудио (сащ ) - участват: ала дехган (иран), гордън чьонг (великобритания), деспо магони (гърция/сащ), ема маккаг (сащ), елън джурадо ( сащ), ко санг у ( южна корея/сащ), патрин хамилътн (белгия/чили), рубен верду (испания/венецуела), сари терваниевми (финландия ), торилд стрей (норвегия), феран мартин (испания), хоакин сегура (мексико)

Contempo 2014 at the City Art Gallery with Ferran Martin, Joaquin Segura, Sari Tervaniemi, Gordon Cheung, Emma McCagg, Koh Sang Woo, Elan Jurado, Ala Dehghan, Ruben Verdu and Despo Magoni.

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April, 5, 2014

*SEKW- at Galería 6más1 as part of a3bandas in Madrid

Official image of the show

Con Efrén Álvarez + Antonio Gagliano, David Bestué + Andrea Valdés, Jaume Ferrete, Ana García-Pineda, Antoni Hervás, Victor Jaenada, R. Marcos Mota, Mariokissme, Obra Social Son Goku, Daniela Ortiz + Xose Quiroga, Quim Packard, Esther Planas, Sitesize, Rubén Verdú

Comisariado por Alex Brahim para Galería 6mas1 en el marco de a3bandas 2014

*sekw- toma como punto de partida la raíz indoeuropea homónima para articular un recorrido por obras y proyectos de artistas de Barcelona que en los últimos años han tocado la cuestión catalana o el asunto de lo español. A su vez, esta dialéctica se ve atomizada por puntos de fuga que ponen en crisis su construcción dualista, derivando finalmente en una "vuelta al origen" que cuestiona el modelo de estado-nación como estamento y a sus representaciones como régimen identitario.

La invitación a comisariar un proyecto en a3bandas, concretamente en Madrid, en una galería de sensibilidad arriesgada y bajo la premisa de que los artistas sean de Barcelona, resulta el escenario idóneo para una acción de contexto: un gesto de respuesta coyuntural, desde el comisariado, a la escalada que en los últimos años ha sufrido el debate sobre la posición de Cataluña frente al Estado español, ocupando en tiempos recientes un lugar de franca centralidad en la esfera pública.

En un aparente callejón sin salida al día que se escriben estas letras, el conflicto entre Cataluña y España discurre entre los políticos y los medios de comunicación, siendo prácticamente nulo el pronunciamiento, cuando menos visible, de los sectores del arte y la cultura, bien dados a intervenir en los asuntos propios del común. Si bien hay quien acusa a estos agentes de mera desidia o de silenciosa complicidad con la incertidumbre del poder, soy de los que se inclinan a creer que los derroteros del arte y la cultura, así como sus redes profesionales y afectivas, trascienden las estructuras que delimitan el cuerpo social a la medida de unos intereses políticos desacreditados como representatividad del conjunto de la ciudadanía, como garantes de su bienestar.

No obstante, sí que existe una genealogía reciente de trabajos que, desde el arte contemporáneo catalán, sobre todo emergente, han aportado señalamientos, reflexiones, discursos y acciones inspirados en la construcción de lo catalán y lo español. Este proyecto comparte y repasa algunos de ellos, a partir de una constelación verbal que es la cartografía de un sustrato compartido: una raíz común al castellano y el catalán, origen etimológico de múltiples vocablos que designan dinámicas de organización social, relaciones sistémicas y estamentos de representación visual.

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March, 18, 2014

La fractura en el continuo del cuerpo pensante

The Blue Marble as shot by the crew of the Apollo XVII

«Mientras tanto, el sol envejece […] Pero con esta explosión que vendrá, inevitable, parece como si lo que siempre se olvida en vuestros juegos de pensamiento viniera ya, a priori, a hacerlos póstumos, fútiles».
Jean-François Lyotard. Lo inhumano

El concepto fundamental de lo sublime ha respondido siempre a ese sentimiento de caída inminente que se adueña de la experiencia de todo aquel que se acerca al borde del abismo. La caída, al contrario de la escalada y todos esos otros tipos de promociones que se planifican al detalle, rompe con todo intento de establecer una secuencia de eventos ordenados. Cada vez que intentamos levantarnos, ascender a la cima, empezar la cuenta atrás para el despegue, sentimos que nos acompaña la presencia de aparatosos accidentes. No se intenta la caída. De hecho, ya estamos, siempre hemos estado «ahí abajo».

En El malestar en la cultura, Freud anotó de que manera podía verse afectado el ser humano al ponerse en pie y que consecuencias podían determinarse de ese acto evolutivo. Freud escribe: «Por consiguiente, en el comienzo del fatal proceso de la cultura se situaría la postura vertical del ser humano. La cadena se inicia ahí, pasa por la desvalorización de los estímulos olfatorios y […] luego se otorga una hipergravitación a los estímulos visuales»

Todo intento de ponernos en un precario equilibrio vertical responde a una necesidad urgente: colocar el globo ocular en una posición de privilegio, en un lugar elevado. Se cumple, así, el impulso y la necesidad imperiosa de lograr esa distancia necesaria, esa separación y desapego que caracteriza toda actividad escrutadora del ojo. Esta tendencia evolutiva desencadena una serie de despeques en cadena, que, sin duda, reconoceremos con sólo recordar la Blue Marble, la imagen tomada el 7 de diciembre de 1972, por los miembros del Apollo 17 en su misión a la Luna, la primera fotografía entera de la Tierra. Desde el momento en que los humanos nos ponemos en pie hasta el envío de los Voyager 1 y 2, o el Curiosity, la última sonda exploratoria a Marte, se nos confirma la compleja realidad que establece la extensión lógica de ese principio, de esos consecutivos liftoffs. El cuerpo queda definitivamente aparcado, relegado a los confines de la Tierra, sustituido por una serie de prótesis tecnológicamente complejas que principalmente están conectadas y responden solamente a las necesidades de una mente inmóvil pero infinitamente curiosa.

Al final, ese imperativo óptico provoca una fractura en el continuo del cuerpo pensante que, forzado por esa serie de desapegos, tendrá una importancia crucial en relación a la pregunta determinante de Lyotard: ¿«[…]se puede pensar sin cuerpo»?

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December, 23, 2013

Wishing merriment to you all!

In line also with recent public declarations and my feeling that art wishes for the return of certain powerful effects that can only be found in a pre-historical cultural context, this seems, in fact, a season dedicated to ritualize things we have been effectively placed in a kind of cultural unconscious. Fly agarics (Amanita muscaria) develop mycorrhiza symbiotic relationships with conifers (pine, spruce, fir, cedar). Raw consumption of fly agarics produces a number of gastro-intestinal reactions that have led us to believe we are in font of a dangerously poisonous mushroom. The fact is, however, that the shamans of old northern European cultures have always consumed these amanitas with no problem, taking quick advantage of their powerful entheogenic substances that lay within. The sole prerequisite for its consumption is that the mushroom needs to be thoroughly dried. In the forests of central and northern Europe, it was not, therefore, uncommon to find conifers with a whole harvest of amanitas hanging from its branches in order for them to get dried.

Amanita Muscaria hanging from a fir branch
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November, 25, 2013

Mud Flag

Happy to see how Mud Flag turned out once installed. I particularly enjoyed the choice of mud picked for the occasion. In my latest forest incursions, I have spotted a mud pool that wild boars use and I have been thinking about the dialectic implications of such raw materialism. I am more and more convinced that art is being spurred by a kind of “nostalgia for prehistory”.

Wild board in the forest with evidence near a mud pool
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October, 18, 2013

Le déchet de luxe

I’m happy to see that the Swiss press was quick to pick on the parodic implications of the Louis Vuitton Trash Bag.

For instance, Fribourg’s daily, La Liberté, calls the piece “déchet de luxe”, and describes the kind of encounter the visitors at Lausanne's MUDAC had with it: “Le sac de luxe est aussi au rendezvous, par exemple estampillé Louis Vuitton, négligemment posé par terre et rempli de déchets…”.

Le Courrier d’Oron takes also note of the implicit intentions of the piece by suggesting that “Les artistes, à travers leur démarche, s'interrogent sur cet objet culte ou déchet, aimé ou méprisé, qui nous identifie et fragilise l'environnement. Critiques voire provocateurs, une trentaine d'artistes et designer s'expriment sur le sujet, souvent avec humour et dérision. A l'instar de Ruben Verdu évoquant, avec «Louis Vuitton Trash Bag », les codes du luxe et du déchet”.

Even Marie Claire Édition Suisse illustrates its short mention of the show with an image of the piece. Of course, that could not be otherwise!

Clip of mention at the October edition of Marie Claire Suisse
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September 8, 2013

Il nome, Il naso. A cura di Raul Zamudio
MUSEOLABORATORIO - Ex Manifattura Tabacchi

Image on invite for the show

Italo Calvino è morto nel 1985 durante la scrittura di una serie di brevi storie da intitolare collettivamente “I Cinque Sensi”. Ogni storia doveva riferirsi a uno dei cinque sensi, sebbene abbia potuto concluderne solo tre su cinque di quelle previste, riferite rispettivamente a olfatto, gusto, e udito: "Il nome, il naso", "Sotto il sole giaguaro" e "Un Re ascolta”. Il nome, Il naso è una mostra internazionale che incorpora il concetto letterario di Calvino; la didascalia di ogni singola opera verrà stampata su un particolare sfondo colorato riferendosi a uno dei cinque sensi. Gli artisti non conosceranno in anticipo con quale senso il loro lavoro verrà identificato, creando così una tensione tra la loro descrizione, la sua categorizzazione, e l’ipotesi che lo spettatore condivida tale associazione o no.

MUSEOLABORATORIO - Ex Manifattura Tabacchi
Citta Sant'Angelo
8 settembre al 8 ottobre 2013

Artisti: Jaishri Abichandani, Chiara Albertoni, Paola Angelini, Luca De Angelis, Bill Berry, Alberto Borea, Stefano Cagol, Italo Calvino, Gianluca Capozzi, Miguel Cardenas, Stuart Croft, Alessio Delfino, Adolfo Doring, Thomas Eller, Matteo Fato, Andrea Frank, Juan Carlos Granados, Elan Jurado, Despo Magoni, Ferran Martin/Priscilla Marrero, Antonello Matarazo, Emma McCagg, Kaitlyn Redell/Sara Jimenez, Riiko Sakkinen, Julia San Martin, Joaquin Segura, Edgar Serrano, S &P Stanikas, Sari Tervaniemi, Katja Tukiainen, Ruben Verdu

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July 25, 2013

Coup de sac! au Mudac

Published image at Mudac's blog

Simon Monk, Enormous Charm no.2, 2013 et Ruben Verdu, Louis Vuitton Trash Bag, 2004

Omniprésent et international, d’usage furtif et pourtant inusable, le sac en plastique est le symbole par excellence de notre société globalisée. L’exposition Coup de sac ! Art et design autour du sac en plastique confronte de manière inattendue l’histoire du quotidien et de la culture avec l’art contemporain et le design. Elle présente une trentaine de propositions d’artistes et designers internationaux dont les œuvres reflètent les interrogations actuelles et les enjeux suscités par l’usage du sac en plastique. Allez donc voir ce lien!

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June 18, 2013

Coup de Sac
at Lausanne's MUDAC, Switzerland

Flyer for Coup de Sac

Since around the 1960s, plastic bags have been part and parcel of our everyday life as consumers. As such, they have come to represent a high-stakes threat to the world environment, with a utility span measured in minutes and an estimated lifespan of over 400 years! Billions of plastic bags are produced around the world every year, accu mulating in the environment and menacing the flora and faunas.

The exhibition considers the subject of plastic bags from several angles, through works by artists and various installations. It also traces the history of the graphics marking certain legendary bags recognizable to several generations. When artists resort to this medium for a particular installation, it is generally for purposes of condemning our consumer society.

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June, 5, 2013

Algunas refexiones sobre Nom és Acció de Marc Larré

One of the pieces in the show

Marc Larré (1978) empieza cursando estudios de Bellas Artes en la Universidad de Barcelona para continuar más tarde en el Cooper Union de Nueva York donde se dedica a explorar el lenguaje del cine y el vídeo de la mano de Walid Raad. Esa oportunidad, junto con los debates que genera el entorno cultural de la ciudad que en esos momentos lo acoge, se convertirá más tarde en una actividad marcada principalmente por la exploración de las estructuras ópticas, y las características de lo que hoy denominamos la «imagen técnica». Poco a poco, sus indagaciones lo llevarán a proponer una relación con la fotografía que destaca por como ella misma logra interrumpir las certezas que derivamos de su uso, para llegar luego a proclamar la independencia intrínseca de sus procesos y poder así explorar, según Larré, la extensa «iconotopía» que finalmente despliega ante nuestros ojos.

Aprovechando el contexto simbólico de La Capella, su permanencia en el tiempo, pero también la carga de su evidencia física, de su envoltorio lítico, Marc Larré nos propone resituarnos en la hipóstasis de sus conceptos. Al abordar su propuesta, podría decirse que volvemos a una prehistoria, a una especie de experiencia fenomenológica que parece declararse anterior a la escritura. El mismo título de la muestra, Nom és acció, nos invita, o nos reta, a reconocer los límites habituales de la fotografía e ir más allá, a exportarlos al resto del aparato simbólico. Se parece a aquella invitación que nos lanza Maurice Blanchot cuando nos pide imaginarnos los inicios de esa genealogía semiótica. En muchas cuevas, junto al primer arte rupestre, encontramos también las innumerables marcas que dejaron los osos, el compañero doméstico del hombre en esos tiempos, al ir rascando con sus uñas las paredes. Blanchot nos sugiere: «A veces es el oso quien inventa el arte» y el hombre quien «señala con sorpresa, con miedo, y con el deseo de darles más visibilidad los misteriosos rasgos que ve en ellas».

Aquí también, el soporte de las imágenes se llena de accidentes, de equívocos, de cortes, de pliegues, en definitiva, de actividad; se cubre, de nuevo, de la violenta erupción de la materia, pero no con afán iconoclasta, sino, todo lo contrario, como punto de partida para proseguir, de nuevo, con la fascinación de lo icónico. Esa calculada distorsión, toda la tectónica de superficies que se produce como resultado de sus intervenciones, tiene el efecto de colocarnos en el ahora, en una posición de claro rechazo a la melancolía, de devolvernos, sin más, el presente de lo representado. Hasta ahora, de hecho, parece ser que el único uso que hemos sabido hacer de la fotografía es el de memento mori. Ya en 1927, el mismo Siegfried Kracauer se sorprendía de ello. Nos relataba el impacto que le produjo poder escrutar el parecido de esa chica de veinticuatro años que le sonreía, pero que no era más que su abuela. Admite que fue una reconstrucción laboriosa que, de no ser por la insistencia de su familia indicándole su parentesco, no hubiera llegado a reconocerla. Pero los comentarios de Susan Sontag, en ese sentido, serán todavía más lapidarios: «La fotografía es el inventario de la mortalidad». En muchos casos, ya lo hemos visto antes, Allan Sekula, o Joan Fontcuberta entre otros, el discurso sobre la fotografía se limita solo a debatir la estructura, el comportamiento y las dimensiones de ese archivo. Marc Larré se niega a hacer ese inventario. Insiste en que su intención es hacer evidente «la voluntad de aplicar una filosofía del acontecimiento al cuerpo físico de la fotografía [y] desvincularla de su carga mnemónica para alcanzar una dimensión performativa».

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May, 21, 2013

Algunas refexiones sobre Acotaciones tras la cuarta pared de Marla Jacarilla

General view of installation

Podríamos pensar, por su universalidad y su omnipresencia, que explorar la mecánica narrativa del texto nos llevará, de nuevo, a conclusiones inocuas, pero la gran habilidad de Marla Jacarilla consiste en alejarnos rápidamente de ese pensamiento, radica en hacer que despierte otra vez la promesa demiúrgica del texto. A la escritura, la artista le va a devolver, sin grandes titubeos, el valor de lo performático.

En esta ocasión, si nos dejamos llevar por lo que nos propone Jacarilla, nos veremos físicamente entrando en un espacio reservado a la ficción, y seremos testigos de un despliegue dramático donde un falso demiurgo conversa con unos personajes que son los protagonistas de obras teatrales que muchos conocemos de antemano. Nos hallamos, pues, ante un ejercicio intencionado de descontextualización y apropiación que, sobretodo, nos pone frente a la compleja incertidumbre de la «personificación». Cabe entender aquí lo que esto implica, sobretodo, si pensamos en como conceptualizamos normalmente los logros de la literatura, y como los reducimos al desfile de una interminable lista de personajes. La vitalidad de esa personificación, su pulsión, es producto, precisamente, de las interminables hiperactividades que se derivan de la condición de texto. Todos sabemos que nadie acomete una lectura o escritura sin que se multipliquen de forma inmediata la expansión rizomática de numerosas asociaciones. Todos sabemos que la riqueza del texto reside en ese potencial, el de lecturas y escrituras divergentes, tergiversadas, que se niegan a la interpretación unívoca. Admitamos, por lo tanto, que la linealidad narrativa no nos es del todo congénita, que es producto de mucha disciplina, que, en realidad, es el resultado de un esfuerzo de concentración dedicado a regular y controlar esas hipertextualidades que continuamente se generan. El hipertexto es, pues, la condición orgánica del texto, es el lenguaje vivo, pero, ojo, una vitalidad entendida como aquello que se realiza en todo momento, performáticamente, un pensamiento mágico, simultaneo, polisémico.

Ante tamaña amplitud de horizontes, Acotaciones tras la cuarta pared nos sugiere una posible línea exploratoria que implica entrar en las entrañas de una arquitectura que, en el contexto teatral, no es más que imaginaria, pero que, en el contexto del Espai Cub, se convierte en objetiva. Aquí, no hay necesidad de «romper» esa cuarta pared porque está provista de puerta de acceso, un extraño instante de literalidad. En cualquier caso, el cierre del proscenio sustituye las «especularidades» típicas del teatro por una especie de ensimismamiento, un encierro que puede remitirnos al murmuro interno de la persona. Frente a los referentes explícitos de Krapp, Willy Loman, Lis y Berenguer, marcados por una subjetividad conocida, definida de antemano por sus autores, nos vemos forzados a interrogarnos nosotros mismos por esa otredad, esa caída impuesta por el mise-en-abyme en el que se encuentran los personajes que vuelven, desorientados, al presente, de nuevo, a nosotros… extraña oportunidad para ellos de presentarse ante el juicio cruel del tiempo y de la historia.

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March 5, 2013

On the Puppet Theater
Heinrich von Kleist

Image of the puppet modeling and design

While passing the winter of 1801 in M., I met one evening, in a public park, Mr. C., who, a short time before, had been engaged in this town as leading dancer at the opera, where the public had given him an extraordinary welcome. I told him of my astonishment at having noticed him several times at a Punch-and-Judy show, which had been set up on the market place, and which delighted the people with little dramatic burlesques, interwoven with songs and dances. He assured me that the pantomimic art of these puppets had given him much pleasure, making it quite plain that a dancer who wanted to develop himself could learn many things from them.

Since this utterance, by the manner in which it was made, seemed to me more than mere fancy, I sat down beside him to question him at some length about his reasons. He asked me whether I would not agree that the movement of the puppets, particularly of the smaller ones, was exceedingly graceful. I could not deny that this was so, and that I had seen a group of four dancing a roundelay in peasant fashion that could not be improved upon even in a drawing by Teniers. I then made inquiries about the mechanism of these figures, and asked him how it was possible—without having myriads of strings attached to one's fingers—to direct each limb and all of its parts, the way the rhythm of the dance required it. He advised me not to imagine that each limb was placed and manipulated singly by the puppeteer during the various moments of the dance. Each movement, he said, has a center of gravity; it would suffice to direct it in the inside of the figure; the limbs, which are nothing but pendula, follow mechanically without anyone's aid. He added that this movement was very simple, that each time, when the center of gravity moved in a straight line, the limbs were beginning to follow a curve, and that often, when shaken accidentally, the whole thing was swept along in a kind of rhythmic movement which resembled the dance.

This remark seemed to me to throw some light on the pleasure which he pretended to find in the marionette theater. Meanwhile I did not yet suspect the consequences he would draw from it later on.

I asked him if he believed that the puppeteer who directed these figures was himself a dancer, or at least if he did not have to have some idea of the beautiful in the dance.

He replied that, though a thing might be easy in a mechanical sense, we could not necessarily deduce from that that it could be manipulated entirely without sensation. The line which the center of gravity had to describe was, to be sure, very simple, and, in his opinion, mostly straight. In cases where it is crooked, the law of its curvature is at least of the first or, at best, second order, and also in this last case only elliptical; which form of movement, he said, was natural for the extremities of the human body, on account of the joints, and therefore it did not require much art for the puppeteer to describe it. On the other hand, this line would remain something very mysterious. For it was nothing other than the road taken by the soul of the dancer, and he doubted if it could be found otherwise than through the fact that the puppeteer placed himself in the center of gravity of the puppet; in other words, that he danced.

I answered that the puppeteer's job had been represented to me as something rather dull, somewhat like the turning of a handle when one is playing the hurdy-gurdy.

"Not at al!," he replied, "on the contrary, the movements of his fingers are in somewhat artificial relationship to those of the puppets, which are attached to them, comparable to those of numbers to their logarithms, or the asymptotes to the hyperbola." He expressed the belief that this last-mentioned vestige of the mind could also eventually be removed from the marionettes, that their dance could pass entirely into the world of the mechanical and be produced by means of a handle, just the way I had imagined it.

I expressed my astonishment, for I was struck that he should have considered this game, invented for the mob, worthy of a beautiful art. Not only that he should believe it capable of a higher evolution, but also that he himself seemed to be occupied with it.

He smiled, saying that he dared assert that if a mechanic would construct a marionette according to his requirements, he would present a dance with it, which neither he nor any good dancer of his time, including Vestris, could equal. "Have you ever heard," he said, while I looked silently at the floor, "of those mechanical legs which English artists manufacture for unfortunate people who have lost theirs?" I said—no, I had never seen such things. "I am sorry," he replied, "for if I tell you that these unfortunate people dance with them, to be sure, I am almost afraid you will not believe me. What am I saying, dance? The sphere of their movements is rather limited, but those that are at their command develop with a tranquillity, lightness, and grace which astonishes every thinking mind."

I said jestingly that in this way he had what he was looking for. For the artist who is able to construct such a strange leg would doubtless be able to produce a whole group of puppets for him, according to his requirements. "Now what," I asked, as I saw him also looking down, somewhat embarrassed, what are these requirements you make of his skill?" "Nothing," he replied, "except what I have already found here: symmetry, mobility, lightness; only all that in a higher degree and especially a more natural order of the centers of gravity."

"And what advantage would this puppet have over living dancers?" I wondered.

"What advantage? First of all—a negative one, my dear friend, that is, that it would never be affected. For affection, as you know, appears when the soul (vis motrix) finds itself at a point other than that of the center of gravity of the movement. Since the puppeteer, as a matter of fact, when he holds this wire, holds no other point in his power but this one, all other limbs are what they should be, dead; they are only pendula that follow the pure law of gravitation; an excellent quality, which we seek in vain with most dancers. Just look at that woman dancer P.," he continued, "when she plays Daphne, and, pursued by Apollo, turns around to look at him; her soul is seated in the vertebrae of her loins; she bends as if she where to break, like a naiad from the school of Bernini. Look at young F. when, as Paris, he stands among the three goddesses and hands the apple to Venus: his soul—it is awful to look at—is seated in his elbow. Such mistakes," he added, interrupting himself, "are unavoidable, since we have eaten of the tree of knowledge. But Paradise is bolted, and the cherub is behind us; we must make a voyage around the earth and see if, perhaps, it is open again at the back."

I laughed. Obviously, I thought, the spirit cannot err, when there is no spirit. But I remarked that he had still other things on his mind, and begged him to go on.

"In addition," he said, "these puppets have the advantage of being immune to the force of gravity. They know nothing of the inertia of matter, that quality which is the most antipodal to the dance, because the force which raises them into the air is greater than the one that keeps them enchained to the earth. What would our good G. not give, if she were sixty pounds lighter, or a weight of this size came to her aid in her pirouettes? The puppets need only the ground, like elves, to touch it and revivify the soaring of the limbs and to recover from the effort of the dance; a moment which obviously is not itself a dance, and with which nothing further can be done than to make it vanish, if possible."

I said that, albeit he handled his paradoxes cleverly, he would never make me believe that in a mechanical puppet there could be more grace than in the structure of the human body.

He replied that it would be practically impossible for man to attain even approximately to mechanical being; only a God could measure himself with matter in this field, and here is the point where both ends of the circular world meet and join each other.

I grew more and more astonished and did not know what to say to such strange assertions. Apparently, he said, while taking a bit of snuff, I had not read the third chapter of the Book of Moses very attentively: and whoever did not know that primary period of human culture, could not really discuss the following and, even less, the ultimate things.

I told him I was very well aware what disorders in the natural harmony of men were created by consciousness. A young man of my I acquaintance, I said, had as it were, lost his innocence before my very eyes, and had never afterwards recovered it, in spite of all kinds of imaginable efforts. "But," I added, "what consequences can you draw from that?"

He asked me what type of incident I had in mind? About three I years ago, I said, I was swimming in the company of a young man, about whose culture there were marvelous stories in those days. He may have been about sixteen years old, and only from very far away could one notice the first traces of vanity, a fact produced by the favor of women. It so happened that only a short time before, in Paris, he and I had seen the statue of the youth pulling a splinter from his foot; the cast of that statue is well known ad can be seen in most German collections. He was reminded of it, when he looked into the big mirror, while putting his foot on the footstool in order to dry it after the bath; he smiled and told me what a discovery he had made. Indeed, I, too, had made the same observation at that moment; but, whether it was that I wanted to examine the certainty of his taste for harmony, or whether I wanted to challenge his vanity, I laughed and replied that he was probably seeing things. He blushed and lifted his foot a second time to show it to me: but the attempt failed, as one could easily have foreseen. Confused, he lifted his foot a third, a fourth, even a tenth time: in vain, he was unable to repeat the same movement. What am I saying? The movements he made had such comical features that I could hardly refrain from laughing. From that day on, almost from the moment on, an inexplicable transformation took place in him. He began to stand in front of the mirror all day long, and one charm after another fell from him. An invisible and inexplicable power seemed to throw itself, like an iron net, around the free play of his gestures, and after a year, there was no longer any trace of charm to be discovered in him, that charm that had so delighted the eyes of those around him. Even now, there is still one person alive who witnessed that strange and unhappy incident, and who could confirm it word for word as I have told it to you.

"In this connection," Mr. C. said, kindly, "I must tell you another story which, you will easily understand, also belongs here. I happened to be traveling in Russia and found myself on the country estate of Mr. von G., a Livonian nobleman, whose sons were then busily practicing the art of fencing. The eldest, especially, who had just returned from a university, regarded himself as a virtuoso, and one morning, in his room he offered me a foil. We fought, but it happened that I was superior to him. Passion added to his confusion. Almost every blow I struck was successful and his rapier finally flew into a corner. Half jestingly, half sensitively, he said, while picking it up, that he had found his master; but everything in this world found its own, in turn, and he proposed to lead me to my master. The brothers laughed out loud and cried: Let's go! Let's go down into the wood shed! And they took me by the hand and led me to a bear which Mr. von G., their father, was having educated on his place. When I stepped in front of him, to amazement I saw the bear standing on his hind legs, leaning with his back on a stake, to which he was chained, his right paw lifted up, ready for anything. He looked me in the eye. That was his fencing position. I did not know whether I was dreaming when I saw myself opposite such an adversary; but—'Strike! strike!' said Mr. von G., 'and try, if you can, to do something to him.' Having recovered a bit from my amazement I went at him; the bear made a very slight movement with his paw and parried the blow. I tried to tempt him with feints; the bear did not stir. Once more I went at him with an immediate skill; I would have struck the chest of a man, without any doubt; the bear made a brief movement and parried the blow. Now I was almost in the position of young Mr. von G. The gravity of the bear's manner reduced my self-assurance. Blows and feints followed each other, I was dripping with perspiration. In vain. Not only did the bear, like the best fencer in the world, parry all my blows; but— and here was a thing no fencer would be able to follow—he did not even seem to notice the feints: eye to eye, as if he could read my soul, he stood there, his paw ready for anything, and whenever my blows were not meant seriously, he simply did not move. Do you believe this story?"

"Perfectly," I cried, with joyous applause, "I would believe it I from any stranger, more than probably; how much more from you!"

"Now, my excellent friend," said Mr. C., "now you are in possession of everything necessary to understand me. We see that in the degree in which reflection becomes darker and feebler in the organic world, grace emerges all the more shining and dominating. But just as the intersection of two lines from the same side of a point, after passing through the infinite, finds itself suddenly again on the other side; or, as the image of the concave mirror, after having gone off into the infinite, suddenly stands right before us again, so grace returns again after knowledge, as it were, has gone through the world of the infinite, in that it appears best in that human bodily structure which has no consciousness at all, or has an infinite consciousness—that is, in the mechanical puppet, or in the God."

"Therefore," I said, somewhat confused, "we would have to eat again of the tree of knowledge to fall back into the state of innocence?"

"To be sure," he replied. "That's the last chapter of the history of the world."

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February 13, 2013

The Art & Law Codex
at ICI Independent Curators International, New York

Image for The Art & Law Codex

The Codex consists of portable letter-size file boxes (approximately 11.5” x 14” x 18” each), which can be stacked with other similar file boxes, allowing for the Codex to grow in size and expand in content with time. For the initial box of the Codex, Volume I: Definition, the participants were asked to submit a document that they think defines art & law.

After the first public viewing at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York City, the Codex will be made available to other academic and art institutions for public exhibition.

Participants include: Amy Adler, Greg Allen, Daniel Brooks, Christoph Büchel, Michael Cataldi, Eric Doeringer, Cora Fisher, Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, Lauren van Haaften-Schick, Nate Harrison, Bettina Johae, Soda Jerk, Alfred Steiner, Ruben Verdu, Alex Villar, Angie Waller, Ai Weiwei, and Donn Zaretsky

Wednesday, February 13, 2013. 6:30–8pm. ICI Curatorial Hub. 401 Broadway, Suite 1620. New York, NY 10013

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February 11, 2013

In Absence of Tongues and Cheeks. Ruben Verdu
at JiM Contemporani

Invite for In Absence of Tongues and Cheeks

“...the bullet for one person passed through the collective, secured space of the m/any”. Donald Kunze, Screen Theory in Brief

We can be brought to imagine —although, in fact, we are more forced to imagine than freely left to self-indulge ourselves— that a pop is just an instance that breaks an otherwise ordinary sequence of events. We have no other choice here, but to succumb to the antics of an attention grabber. Such is the economy of our epistemological vocation!

In Absence of Tongues and Cheeks pretends to deliberately fictionalize the account of a genealogy, that of a type of attention grabber that makes its demands not within a quick transformational moment of shock, but by a sustained expansion of that shock through time. Screens are everywhere, doubly ubiquitous, in space, and in time also, by endowing the remarkable, the abnormal, and the unexpected, with the quality of duration.

Orthogonality is a screen requirement. It is the only effective and reasonable way to access its flatness. The stricter a stubborn orthogonal impact is the clearer it produces the flatness of screen typologies. Those orthogonalities are candy for the eye. After popping, they spread their pure surface ever more thinly, all present, all exposed, all devoid of of any kind of hidden objectivity.

Installation views of Wall Sucker

In Absence of Tongues and Cheeks. Structure designed to allow the insertion of a lollipop into the wall. Installation views of the wall sucker.

Different views of Shooting the Wrapper

Shooting the Wrapper. Different views of the Chupa-Chups generic wrappers (original design by Salvador Dalí) being used as targets.

Installation views of Images that Halt Speed

Images that Halt Speed. An exact replica of a perfectly orthogonal bullet impact, the so called "bullet flowers". Reverse logic is at play because, indeed, images halt speed. Famous deadly car accidents (Albert Camus, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield).

Photograph of a Gerbera flower painted in silver

Full Metal Jacket: Gerbera. Added superficial emphasis and reflective enhancements. Photographic documentation of a chomed finish.

Different installation views of Last Pop

Last Pop. Different installation views showing the lead popcorn firmly holding its container in place.

Detailed view of Optopia Sours installation

Optopia Sours. Detailed installation view of a work that is partly set into the wall of the gallery. There are here concerned efforts at constructing a formal logic.

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February 5, 2013

Fanning the Flames. Ruben Verdu and Fritz Welch
at JiM Contemporani

Flyer for Fanning the Flames

A simple definition of the exhibition title “Fanning The Flames” would be, “to make something more intense”, however the phrase also carries a subjective reading implying a certain level of detachment, of throwing fuel on the fire and standing back to watch the result (perhaps even gleefully). It infers playing devil’s advocate, willfully upping the ante just for the hell of it, just to see how far something will go – or can be pushed, perhaps. It is playing with fire. In this context “Fanning The Flames” refers not only to the potentially incendiary outcome of bringing together Rubén Verdú and Fritz Welch, it also describes their individual approaches to art making. Both of them push to the limits.

Ruben Verdú’s work is discursive, structured on a solid understanding of theory. He is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts and the Whitney Independent Study Program. He tends towards high culture. His frames of reference are art history and contemporary theory. His work is meticulous and highly finished, sometimes industrially fabricated. He will seek the advice of engineers to help him solve technical problems. His “Cheval Vapeur”, exhibited in La Capella, Barcelona in 2011, was a dizzying mix of art history, irony and big dipper vertigo, combining his usual intellectual rigour with a carnival sense of drama at odds with its theoretical grounding.

Fritz Welch is an artist and musician who plays in various bands, noise units and improvising ensembles. He often collaborates with other artists, performers and choreographers. His working methods hover around and examine various interconnected cultural concerns that presently include Dr. Cornell West, large ensemble conceptual improvisation, extraordinary rendition, Raoul Vaniegem's A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings, obsessive/compulsive disorder, the cult film, Street Trash, and Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Welch's drawings, sculptures, texts, sound works and performances take into account the excesses of consumerism and the absurdity of everyday life. His works are often constructed from found, or discarded objects, a practice which he connects directly with Arte Povera, or artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark, David Hammons and Kurt Schwitters.

The pairing of theses two artists was never coincidental. Both of them bring a dry, sly and ironic sense of humour to their work. Both of them produce in many media, depending on the project they are involved in. Both of them employ a performance element. Both of them often create art that is later destroyed, leaving only documentation of the event/performance/object. Both of them push their ideas to extremes, exhorting the viewer to reconsider his/her conceptions of what art is, sometimes in ways that may not always be comfortable. And during the planning of “Fanning The Flames” the artists discovered that coincidentally Verdú has a son called Nanuk and Welch has a daughter called Nanook.

JiM Contemporani. Rambla de Catalunya 43, 2-2. 08007 Barcelona. Tel. +34 659 219 666
From 7th February – 2nd March, 2013. Open Wed. to Fri. 7-9pm. Or by appointment.

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September 30, 2012

Festa Happening Cultural d’Inauguració
at Fabra i Coats, Fabrica de Creació de Barcelona

The opening of the Fabra i Coats was a huge success. More than six thousand visitors in a few hours. I am very happy with the public response. I want to thank its organizers, specially to Anna Manubens and José Antonio Delgado, for having accomplish such endeavor in such short notice, and, of course, having been so kind to invite me to participate in it. Congratulations to all, indeed!!!

For the ones that couldn't make it, here is "All Begins at the Horizon". Enjoy!!!

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September 19, 2012

Festa Happening Cultural d’Inauguració
at Fabra i Coats, Fabrica de Creació de Barcelona

Flyer of Festa Happening Cultural d'Inauguració de la Fabra i Coats

La inauguració de la fàbrica de creació Fabra i Coats vol ser una festa enriquidora i lúdica, on els artistes, els creadors i els agents culturals de la ciutat, de diverses generacions i àmbits, tinguin un ampli punt de trobada, amb un públic inquiet envers el pols cultural de la ciutat i amb els veïns del barri de Sant Andreu. Partint de la ferma voluntat de convertir-se en un gran node de la producció artística contemporània a Barcelona, a l’abast de la comunitat artística en totes les seves vessants, Fabra i Coats obre les seves portes celebrant-ho amb els membres del teixit creatiu barceloní en un context interdisciplinari i lúdic.

Al Videolounge es podrà veure un programa de vídeo amb la participació dels artistes següents: Borja Alexandre, Queralt Antú, Angie Bonino, Xavi Gavin, Xavi Hurtado, Colectivo Levirage, Francesca Llopis, Gerard Ortín, Esther Planas, Jesus Ramos, Mapi Rivera, Avelino Sala, Toni Serra*) Abu Ali, Ricardo Trigo, Ruben Verdu i Alejandro Vidal

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August 23, 2012

Frankenstein on the Beach

An all-night event of performance works curated by Raul Zamudio for Beach Box: White Box Summer Series, August 24-24, 2012, New York.

Does Olympic nationalism, the Republican convention, the Hamptons, museum and art world inertia and a body politic mired in cultural entropy, intellectual paralysis, moral vacuity and historical amnesia got you apathetic? Don't reach for the bottle, or the gun, or the suicide belt but come to the NYC summer happening of the season, a dusk to dawn event of monstrous performance art in live and video formats culled from the curatorial laboratory of Raul Zamudio.

Artists include: Oreet Ashery, Domingo Sanchez Blanco, Amy Birch, Cleverson, Amanda Devereux, Ying Mai Duan, E. M. with Ollom Movement Art, Tor Jørgen van Eijk, Shahram Entekhabi, Eric Ramos Guerrero, Elan Jurado, Helena von Kärkkäinen, Marie Christine Katz, Arturo Ledesema, Teemu Maki, Ferran Martin, Yasira Nun, Damian Ontiveros, Pasha Radetzki, Alperoa Roa, Joaquin Segura, Miguel Rodriguez Sepulveda, Celia Elsamieh Shomal, Sari Tervaniem and Ruben Verdu.

Live performances by: Amy Birch, Amanda Devereux, Elan Jurado, Marie Christine Katz, Ferran Martin, Yasira Nun and Pasha Redetzki.

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August 4, 2012

Celebrity Skin

Celebrity Skin, flyer of exhibition

An international Artist Exhibition curated by Raul Zamudio at White Box Contemporary, San Diego, California.

The exhibition Celebrity Skin takes its title from a song by the same name authored by the rock band Hole. In metaphorically written in the first person and alluding to the affected, unapologetic and ultimately redemptive life of its singer, its self-reflexivity is loaded with subtext about the vacuity of the music and Hollywood movie industries and their coteries of deal-making agents, paparazzi, cosmetic surgeons, hangers-on, and general star-struck, stargazers.

The exhibition extends the song title’s suffix to mean surface and shallowness; while celebrity is demystified and becomes commonplace in a debased world of Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter where, in the words of Andy Warhol, “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

The exhibition Celebrity Skin uses these subtexts as foil to elaborate a new kind of iconoclasm that hones in on what philosopher Theodor Adorno called the "culture industry". These contemporary forms of idol-breaking articulated in the exhibition’s artworks do not solely rub up against the historical notion of idolatry that early medieval religious fanatics sought to destroy, for the artworks also set their sights on other targets including politics and ideologies, monuments, history, art history, the art world, corporate culture, the family, the social construction of beauty and fashion as well as the culture industry in general. The international exhibition of known and emerging artists articulate diverse subject matter within the exhibition’s curatorial framework via painting, sculpture, works- on-paper, photography, installation, video, and performance.

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June 4, 2012

Juan Canela.
Wrote about Lo Inhumano: Modo de Empleo and its uses of the ekphasis

Ruben Verdu's art practice takes so many courses of action that is difficult to classify or package in any kind of predictable statement. Anything beyond a specific approach or investment in a particular topic —instances within which he can, otherwise, build cohesive narratives— is neglected. His work rests solely on what he calls cultural opportunism.

Far from pursuing the construction of a cohesive curriculum or a proper professional trajectory, and uncomfortable with anything related to the status of an auratic figure, Ruben Verdu chooses to enter instead a polymorphic space of action, one that affords him, in consequence, a better way to guide his interests and work the most appropriate plan to intervene on his self-imposed choices. By not being compromised to think about what is most appropriate, he procures for himself freedom of action and thought. That freedom allows his work to branch into a wide range of formal and conceptual propositions.

There are, however, traceable relationships scattered along the winding nature of his work, an impulse to examine the nature of artistic practice and its codes, a way to dig into the systematic logic of cultural affairs, a comfort exploring contradiction as a viable choice of lifestyle, and a call to search for unrelated episodes that thrive in potential schizoid narratives. The question remains, and here revolves one of his major concerns: Are we not loosing too much time and energy searching for spaces of relevance? Would not it be better to keep on walking?

A recurrent tool often used by Verdu is the ekphrasis, in other words, the detailed written description of a work of art. In Ancient Greece, it played a very important role in the rhetorical exercises that constituted the core subject of youth education. Today, in fact, we owe to these descriptions everything we know about the paintings of that period since they have, indeed, not survived the passage of time. At one point, we begin to notice, however, how many of our mythological constructs are tight to that concept of loss. If we turn that assumption around and propose instead a detailed description of an imagined object that does not yet exists, this mythological urge reappears. This is how Verdu intents his ekphrasis to work. He intends to influence the construction of that fascination we develop around objects we cannot access.

Reading Lo Inhumano details page 170

Reading Lo Inhumano details page 170

The Inhuman: Operating Manual (2012) is based on one of his ekphrasis. In this case, Verdu makes a written intervention in Walter Tevis' novel, The Man who Fell to Earth, published in 1963 and the one on which Nicolas Roeg based his 1976 movie of the same title. There is a scene in the movie that takes place around a ping-pong table just when the main character, Thomas Jerome Newton, who comes from another planet, begins his particular type of Icarian fall. All the way up to that point, he has been a very successful businessman and, not surprisingly, successful also in matters related to love. That part of the movie shows the point of inflection where Newton regains conscience of his origins, and brings on the developments that later will prove fatal for him. In the novel this ping-pong table does not appear, and that is the opportunity Verdu takes to introduce his ekphrasis and further modify even the narrative of the film. The intervention in the book consists on a written description of a peculiar work of art, an odd porcelain sculpture of a couple playing table tennis, odd because a ball bounces endlessly from one side to the other enabling a play that effectively never ends.

Three intervened editions of the novel are finally exhibited in the gallery, one is displayed opened at the pages where the ekphrasis appears allowing viewers a discrete read, the other ones are bound shot and are laid on a ping-pong table that is installed nearby inviting viewers to play sets of table tennis using them. Ping-pong becomes clearly an insisting remainder of repetitive principles, of the trip back and forth that the main character does from human nature back to his own, and of the ball that bounces on top of the contents of an author that Verdu intends inappropriately to make his own.

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May 29, 2012

Oh, Plastiksack!

Happy to be part of Oh, Plastiksack! that will take place starting this sunday, June 3rd, until the 7th of October at the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland.
Postcard detail

Plastic bags are found everywhere in the world; their useful life is fleeting yet they are almost indestructible. These feather-light, gently rustling objects have a versatile beauty. In addition to their use for packaging and carrying things, they have been adapted for a wide variety of other purposes. They reflect consumer behavior, advertise status, reinforce identity, damage the environment and narrate our cultural history. At the same time, they are a symbol of our global society.
The exhibition in the Forum is dedicated to the plastic bag as an everyday item and as a focus for art and design. This much-discussed plastic product is explored in the context of society and the environment and as a theme of contemporary artistic work in the fields of painting, photography, installation, performance, urban art and design.
The Gewerbemuseum's in-house exhibition is curated by Susanna Kumschick and Ida-Marie Corell, author of "Alltagsobjekt Plastiktüte", which was published in 2011.

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May 25, 2012

Juagando con Lo inhumano: modo de empleo
en Nucleos de la Emergencia

Jugando con Lo Inhumano detalle Jugando con Lo Inhumano Raqueta/Libro Écfrasis en El hombre que cayó a la Tierra

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May 23, 2012

Nuclis de la Emergència

Imatge Nuclis de la Emergència

Nuclis de l’emergència ens condueix, de la mà d’artistes i agents culturals, a la reflexió sobre els processos creatius de l’art emergent i a la contextualització de la seva producció. A partir d’aquesta idea, nou professionals de l’àmbit artístic han analitzat l’obra i les inquietuds dels artistes d’Oficina36, amb la finalitat de generar un mapa sobre les diverses vies d’investigació per apropar els mecanismes de construcció conceptual de les produccions artístiques.

Núcleos de la emergencia nos conduce, de la mano de artistas y agentes culturales a la reflexión sobre los procesos creativos del arte emergente y a la contextualización de su producción. A partir de esta idea, nueve profesionales del ámbito artístico, han analizado la obra y las inquietudes de los artistas de Oficina36, con la finalidad de generar un mapa sobre las diversas vías de investigación para aproximar los mecanismos de construcción conceptual de las producciones artísticas.

Empar Buxeda | Amanda Cuesta
Sebastián Cabrera | Montse Badia
Roser Caminal | Pilar Bonet
Antònia Del Río | Joana Hurtado
Samuel Labadie | Martí Manen
Lola Lasurt | Alexandra Laudo
Zeyno Pekünlü | Teresa Blanch
Isabel Servera | Txuma Sánchez
Rubén Verdú | Juan Canela

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January 25, 2012

«Parricus». Proposal for intervention


1. All the markings present on the asphalt that distribute, manage, and assign space for the parking of vehicles should first be measured and recorded in order to proceed later to its exact replication.
2. Latitude location of the parking lot should be recorded, and the following formula should be runned in order to find the length of the Earth circumference at that exact location:
C (circumference at x latitude) = 2πr*cos(x)
Mean Earth radius (r) = 6,371 kilometers.
3. Ground speed from the rotation of Earth should be figured from the above results, and should be brought down to 10 milliseconds measurements of time. The final numbers reflect the amount of ground displacement Earth rotation inflicts on apparently stable and unquestioned space.
4. North/South axis on the parking lot should be determined before proceeding to the next step.
5. Copies of all the markings present on the asphalt should be replicated in the following manner:
— parallel, right and left, of the North/South axis;
— at intervals equal to the results of step 3;
— until each of the markings fall off the parking lot.

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January 23, 2012

LAXART presents Art in The Parking Space
for The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival

Flyer of Art in The Parking Space

For the third iteration of Art in the Parking space, artists Warren Neidich and Elena Bajo have organized a group of locally recognized Los Angeles-based artists, alongside a band of internationally-known ones, in order to produce a dynamic social sculpture that invokes the anarchy and provocative essence of LA street culture.

The parking garage represents a site of unlimited temporal potential, where multiple times and spaces collide. We really only occupy a parking space for a small section of time, moving our automobiles continually in and out of their institutionally elaborated spaces. It is this very mutability that defines the character of this extravaganza. More then a simple group show or an installation, Art in the Parking Space is a kind of choreography-on-wheels: an updated version of Busby Berkley's “Footlight Parade”, 1933, in which the automobiles arabesque in a role-play that extends beyond their functional condition. For this staging at the Standard Hollywood, the cars will be assembled together in stationary and dynamic, continuous networks—a materialization of the super highway. Here, the parking space itself acts as a stage in which a theater of the absurd in the 21st century can become inaugurated.

Participating Artists: Ron Cooper, Sydney Cooper , Krysten Cunningham, Ania Diakoff with Tova Carlin and Katerina Llanes, Gracie DeVito, Melissa Gordon, Nicoline van Harskamp, Lindsay Lawson, Theo Lithgart, Johanna Reed with Marc Horowitz, Société Réaliste, Mathilde Ter Heyne with Mathilde Rosier, Georgia Sagri, Gabriele Stellbaum, Untitled Collective, Ruben Verdu

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December 21, 2011

Frieze Blog. Best of 2011

Frieze Blog 10 Best Of Picks of 2011 Frieze asked a number of artists, curators and critics for their picks of 2011. Max Andrews, a regular contributer to Frieze and co-director, together with Mariana Cánepa, of the curatorial office Latitudes, picked "Solvitur Ambulando" as one of the 10 Best of 2011. Thanx Max!!! These were his quick impressions of the show:

"How can one resist a fibreglass reproduction of Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s 1914 cubist hulk Le Cheval (in its almost-horse-size version as modified in 1966 by Raymond’s more renowned brother, Marcel) whirling around at a frighteningly fast 200rpm?"

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December 16, 2011


A new curatorial project by Raul Zamudio together, this time, with Daniel Gonzalez Lozano, is showing works of a number of international artists at the Pristine Galerie in Monterrey, Mexico. This show, like the novel by Don DeLillo on which is based, takes us also through a hyper-wasteful farce of extravagant wealth, and spuns the rampant capitalism that conditions most of our contemporary experience out of its wits and assumed logic. It will be up and running until February 14th, 2012.

—How will we know when the global era officially ends?
He waited.
—When stretch limousines begin to disappear from the streets of Manhattan.
—You've been talking about the future being impatient. Pressing upon us.
—There's a poem I read in which a rat becomes the unit of currency.
... —Yes. The rat closed lower today against the euro.
—Yes. Every U.S. dollar redeemable for rat.
—All wealth has become wealth for its own sake. Money has lost its narrative quality— Money is talking to itself.
—The top tier of the electronic display across the avenue showed this message now:

Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis

Announcement for CO$MOPOLIS at Pristine Galerie

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November 28, 2011

La Real-Ficción

Hay ciencia ficción y hay futuristas. Los anglosajones prefieren llamar a esta disciplina, futurología, más inclinada a complicarse la existencia con los líos de la lógica. Esos líos, a la futurología, le imponen una cierta carga de realismo que la colocan más cercana, o esa es la sensación que nos deja, al presente. Esa tensión entre la ficción y nuestro día a día, a mi me parece que pone ciertas cosas en evidencia. Siempre he creído que la ciencia ficción se queda corta en su pretensión de radicalismo, que si fuera llevada a su máxima expresión se convertiría en algo ininteligible y, por eso, me he aficionado en los últimos tiempos a la lógica de lo intuido cerca.
Uno de los máximos exponentes de esa intuición es una pareja de octogenarios Alvin y Heidi Toffler que en su último libro, «La revolución de la riqueza» nos siembran el futuro de «realidades inadvertidas». Lo dejo así, entre comillas, porque en nuestro mundillo del arte —cacahuetes para la visión macro-económica de los Toffler—, algunas de estas realidades son ya muy evidentes y nos recuerdan las visiones más esperpénticas del sci-fi barato.

Cover of Alvin and Heidi Toffler's Revolutionary Wealth

Una de esas nociones, que se ha convertido casi por entero en nuestro estilo de vida, es el prosumo, concepto acuñado por el propio Alvin Toffler para describir la dinámica económica de productores que crean riqueza sin cobrar ni un céntimo, o sea, fuera de la dinámica enfermiza de los mercados y las fábulas financieras. Si observamos con detenimiento, nos daremos cuenta de las las enormes dimensiones de este fenómeno, sobretodo, si vamos destapando, como hacen los autores, todas sus implicaciones. Claro, a nosotros no nos extraña porque hemos sobrevivido siempre en estas condiciones, pero, según los Toffler, esta inevitabilidad nos proyecta inmediatamente al futuro. Puesto así, no me extraña que la ciencia ficción no me sorprenda.
Lo que a algunos les resulta extraterrestre, y que se considera como invasión alienígena, la de una enorme economía sumergida, la de la fusión entre productor y consumidor saltándose todos los protocolos del intercambio económico tradicional, o sea, de la mediación del dinero, me recuerda, a mí, las distinciones que hacía Michel de Certeau sobre las decisiones estratégicas y las tácticas. Para de Certeau las actividades estratégicas presuponen siempre un «querer y poder», un propietario, una empresa, una institución, circunscritos siempre y defendiendo su territorio, lo que consideran «propio». Las actividades tácticas, las que de Certeau celebra como la gran picaresca del consumidor, sin embargo, no disponen de bases desde donde capitalizar sus privilegios, desde donde preparar expansiones o asegurarse independencia frente a circunstancias adversas. En contraste al limitado mundo del tener, se puede empezar a intuir, no obstante, la magnitud de la infiltración táctica. Al no defender territorio, sus fuerzas se diluyen en lo temporal. Lo que ganan no se puede acumular. Manipulan acontecimientos constantemente convirtiendo al oportunismo en la ilimitada pulsión del momento.

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September 26, 2011

The Archeology of The Recent Past

Since it seems that there's an ongoing celebration on the 20th anniversary kick-off of Grunge with an everyday insistence on the release, a while ago, of Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Pearl Jam's "Ten", I'm compelled to add this picture to the celebration that was published, again, a while ago, on Revolver.

Eddie Vedder and Perl Jam posing in front of Continuum 13

Continuum 13 as it appears in the 2000 fall edition of the music magazine Revolver

Continuum 13
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September 8, 2011

El tedi. Article de Joan Abello a El Temps

Trobo que l'article d'en Joan Abello Juanpere a El Temps, més enllà de la menció concreta que fa de Solvitur Ambulando, ens recorda quina és, en realitat, l'empremta que ens deixa, any darrera any, la programació de La Capella. Comparar ambdues publicacions, la de BCN Producció'11 i la de BCN Crea, demostra l'eficàcia de la trajectòria curatorial de La Capella com motor indiscutible de la cultura a Barcelona. Que quedi clar!!!
"BCN Producció'11 és l'anual publicació que descriu les activitats de l'espai La Capella, dedicat a les arts d'artistes joves i experimentals, sota la direcció del longeu Oriol Gual, amb propostes que sempre ens han produït més plaers que no angúnies. I si algú encara es permet de proclamar que tot s'ha dit i tot s'ha fet en el món de l'art, que utilitzi aquesta publicació com a guia telefònica, que alguna cosa sorprenent hi trobarà". Per continuar llegint clica aquí. El Tedi. Article de Joan Abello a El Temps

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August 29, 2011

The Art&Law Residency Symposium
at Shearman & Sterling LLP

Flyer for the Art&Law Residency Symposium

I had a fantastic experience at the Art & Law Residency Symposium where I was the respondent to three papers that challenged, in various ways, notions of Art, and the arguments, legal and meta-discursive, used in settling conflicts created from Art's social impact, public display, and the gains derived from its commercial value. These are, indeed, terms that artists are not usually inclined to explore, but that, in many cases —I am a good example of it—, we are ready to push around and challenge in a rather naive way. My most felt thanks go, therefore, to these very thoughtful presenters: to Mazie M. Harris for “The phantasmagoria of inventions passes rapidly before us: Litigating Photography as Intellectual Property"; to Lián Amaris Sifuentes for "Art Beyond the Centerfold: Copyright, Cultural Restriction, and Playboy"; and to Tracy Zwick for "Case Study: Doris Salcedo. The Convergence of Art and Law in the Construction of Justice".

Ruben Verdu at the Lectern of the Art&Law Resiudency Symposium Audience at the Art&Law Resiudency Symposium

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August 10, 2011

How to Philosophize with A Hammer
Curated by Raul Zamudio

Announcement for How to Philosophize with A Hammer, a Group Exhibition at the White Box Gallery in New York

August 11 - September 10, 2011
Opening Reception: August 11, 6 - 9 PM

Artists: Isaac Aden, Oreet Ashery, Marcela Astorga, Luis Alonzo-Burkigia, Marc Bijl, Karlos Carcamo, Daniel Davidson, Adolfo Doring, Shahram Entekhabi, Kendell Geers, Fernando Martin Godoy, Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, Istvan Kantor, Teresa Margolles, Ferran Martin, Dominic McGill, Dennis Oppenheim, Damian Ontiveros, Pasha Radetzki, Martha Rosler, Joaquin Segura, Celia Eslamieh Shomal, Susan Sontag, Javier Tellez, Mookie Tenembaum, Wojtek Ulrich, Abdul Vas, Ruben Verdu, Ai Weiwei, Zhou Wendou.

How to Philosophize with a Hammer is an exhibition of international artists that work in video, painting, sculpture, works-on-paper, photography, installation, and performance. It's title is culled from Friedrich Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer (1889). How to Philosophize with a Hammer followed the Gay Science (1882) in which Nietzsche pronounced that "god is dead."
After this deicide came other "deaths" in the late twentieth century including "the death of the author," "the end of history," and "the death of painting." As such, the works in the exhibition underscore the usurpation of authority but within a contemporary context. The artists address the exhibition's thematic framework in myriad ways where their philosophizing is articulated through diverse artistic genres. Some philosophers have viewed artistic practice as a form of philosophy, and the iconoclasm of these artists' works ideologically hammers against political, financial, social, and religious institutions. This resistance signals the need to reinvent new modes of thinking and being while reflecting on the existential, global crisis that humanity finds itself marked by wars, ecological disaster, economic collapse, terrorism, and revolution. In short, it is the perfect end of summer exhibition.

White Box Gallery
329 Broome St.
NY, NY 10002

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July 27, 2011

A Brief Conversation about "Solvitur Ambulando"

Cover of BCN Produccio 2011 Awards Catalogue

Interview conducted by Pilar Bonet.

In your biographical profile, you give greater emphasis to your academic training than to your record of exhibitions. What is the impact your training periods, other discourses and readings, and your literary and philosophical investigations, have on your artistic project?

Put like that, the details of my academic training seem to have a rather symptomatic function. It could be said that, by emphasizing them, I show myself leaning more towards reflection processes than to upholding static constructs that stem from strings of faits accomplis. Having said that, I believe that I’m always occupying a training space. For me, it is impossible to generate projects beyond the confines of that space.

Many notions have fallen victim to the voracity of that “dialectic of disinhibition” that Sloterdijk put forward in order to understand our time, but none so much as the notion of fidelity to self. By occupying this training space I propose a way of understanding my role as being one far from those grand teleological narratives which are the common trend of our culture. I acknowledge the fact that they are a major part of the historic ambition of culture and that they feed its supposed transcendence; nevertheless, I prefer the accidental, interrupted, sinuous, and dissolved dynamics of our contemporary thought. I lose myself trying to satiate my curiosity. I feel it is my duty and responsibility —responsibility in the strict sense of the word– to respond, to generate exchanges.

For me, this propensity towards the unstable paves the way for opportunism. Within any exhibiting intent, any ambition to share in the public, we are expected to end up wallowing in the mud of what is common to us. It is expected too that this economy of the common ends up governed by contentions of relevance, and that, in that context, our efforts are forced to fight for the limited spaces of public exposure. Nothing more. Therefore, in the current circumstances, where there are no longer grand ideological conceits, opportunism is a requirement. By constantly occupying this training space, I yield myself to this requirement.

Considering the outline of your works, it is clear that you do not identify specifically with concrete formats or languages. At times, you create a more object-based mise en scène and, at other times, the outcome is more performative; in any case, you turn the interstitial spaces of language, its displacements and its conflicts around. What are the reasons behind this choice, and what previous projects are the most immediate referents to "Solvitur Ambulando"?

The context creates its own forms of intervention; for that reason, if I look at what I’ve done thus far, it is hard for me to weave a narrative that moves my entire oeuvre along a specific path. In some respects, my position is mainly that of a consumer and, therefore, I renounce certain privileges.

For instance, when I heard about the incident in which Marcel Duchamp produced an edition of a sculpture of his elder brother and that he clearly influenced its final outcome in a remarkable way, I was struck by the extent of his obsession and the insistence shown in making his decision because, somehow, he renounced to move away from someone else’s territory, and his activity faded again in the affairs of another author even if those of a closer relative. Duchamp made three basic interventions on the original sculpture of his brother. To begin with, he brought it to a monumental size. Its initial height of 44 centimetres became 150 centimetres. He also gave it a title. It was renamed "Cheval Majeur" after 1966. Finally, he placed it on a revolving pedestal powered by a small electric motor. The most interesting fact, however, is that all the copies were, at the end, purchased by institutions and museums that —without the most minimal debate or consideration regarding the inclusion of this work in Duchamp's catalogue raisonné— removed the motorised base that gently rotated the piece. It is obvious that, in this correlation of events, I stood before a chain of consumption that I did not wish to break.

Cheval Majeur as shown in The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas

Cheval Majeur as it is shown without rotating pedestal at The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas.

I have always been drawn to the way Michel de Certeau depicts the figure of the consumer. The submission assumed by the consumer in front of the impositions of the proper, before the defence of property as a privileged structure, grants him or her, on the other hand, considerable room for maneuvering. In contrast with these structures of ownership based on patrimony, historic stagnation, lineage and transcendence, the consumer gains on greater mobility. Consumer actions are disconnected from one another. Profits cannot be added to them. The consumer is the perfect opportunist.

The reasons I choose to produce this work, therefore, are entirely removed from my biographical trajectory. It is part of something else, an economy of contagion. Within this economy, I just saw the possibility of undertaking certain interventions. In the case of the "Cheval Majeur" incident and, considering the tight production schedule that was given to me, I contemplated, although it might not seem so, a performance-based action. I sent a letter to Louis Carré (1897-1977), just like Duchamp did in 1964, to his gallery that still exists in Paris, outlining my intentions, enumerating the actions I wished to carry out, and faithfully promising to follow the instructions described therein. In fact, the proposal I made to him was really simple, to add a one-horsepower-engine to a reproduction of "Cheval Majeur". No one knew what would finally come out of this intervention, nor was there time to amend what would finally take place.

Portrait of Louis Carré circa 1963

Louis Carré, 1963.

The project you have presented at La Capella is structured into three different scenes. They cite specific references, names and trademarks in contemporary culture (the film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", an appropriation of Duchamp, and a text by Beckett). Your intervention shakes the registers of this historic heritage setting in motion the mechanisms of meaning and the spinning of the logos, turning them into a perplexing and loud machinery that fills the space with hustle and bustle and interpretative labyrinths. Is this a form of cannibalism, enthronement, or delirious postproduction?

I like the fact that it arouses this phagocytotic feeling. It is the same feeling I have before the persistent transcendence of the historic that seems insatiable to me, that engulfs everything. I would like to think that I can poison this state of things a little bit.

The three tropic methods I endeavour to explore in "Solvitur Ambulando" are part of a semiotic navigation exercise. This is what it entails, it simply lets you get carried away by symbolic displacements. Therefore, I claim cynical thinking to be the main instigator of all this, with its profound dialectic openness, offering, as dénouement, action pure and simple. The inertia of the logos, its stasis, its rigor mortis, contrasts with what really interests me: to show the mechanics of flow that, like the movements of a spinning top, keep the privileges of an inanimate centre, completely dead, and always upright. The tropes, metaphors, hyperboles, metonyms, allegories, etc., have also been in charge of injecting life into language, updating it and giving it a chance to escape. Diogenes’ response leads me to believe that a simple mechanical action can cause an entire symbolic order to collapse. Sometimes I think that it is totally possible.

With "Solvitur Ambulando", in any case, my contributions do not seek to undertake any of those Oedipal transformations that figure prominently in traditional generational changeovers, nor do I intend to lay claim to a historic review that restores the glory of some dead people. I endeavor to be bound, I insist, to a throw-away culture that we should not simplify only in material terms. Use naturally entails abuse and waste as if it were a digestive process. The circulation this process generates, this constant movement, so typically tropical, is the result of the inability to cling onto anything. This is probably the kind of delirious postproduction that I would like to share with others because you could give in to the temptation of thinking that, by using this recycling process, we can establish now a stable form of production, a formula, and that is not true. Culture has always been post-production, but, until now, it has been a postproduction tied to establishing permanent long-lasting paradigms, and that is no longer possible.

If Marc Augé manages to convey a kind of trivialisation and emptying of meaning in reference to spaces of transit and circulation such as motorways, airports, etc., and defines them as “non-places”, I would like to think that the same is possible with the works presented here. These “non-works” could operate in the same way, simply being containers of a movement and a circulation outside the materialisation of their forms. Let us recall that, in the three cases that "Solvitur Ambulando" asks us to pay attention to, we are faced with examples originally conceived to be executed within the field of mechanised reproduction, and, thereby, already create a container of scattered dimensions and of indeterminate shape.

Airport Scene from La Jetee by Chris Marker

Airport scene from Chris Marker's "La jetée", 1962.

"Solvitur Deambulando: Cheval Vapeur (CV)", the reproduction of a revolving horse driven by a one-horse-power motor, is a piece comprising volume, movement and clattering noise. It stirs a feeling of tension and danger in the viewer owing to the dynamic strength and terrifying sound of machinery. By contrast, the books of Beckett, the pages from the chained translations of "Pavesas", paragraphs that are subjected to a number of translations into various languages, are absolute silence. In this mise en scène, what is the role of each of the works?

The contrasts are really striking but are just a reflection of the range of registers I wished to explore. The tropical architecture I sought to investigate can take on infinite forms but, between the three examples I decided to work with, considerable room for manoeuvre can still be found.

We have already discussed "Solvitur Deambulando: Cheval Vapeur (CV)", and its tendency to immediately grab the attention of visitors, its capacity to cause a spectacle, to stir a certain degree of apprehension which, at times, can instil fear. However, this result, as I have already said, was completely unexpected and part of a performance-based goal, and it cannot be a final answer because tropical structures come from afar and have their own history. To me, "Solvitur Somnambulando: Holstenwall" establishes, as an introduction, that point of departure, that entrance. I believe that the cinematic apparatus is tropical by default, but, beyond that, I believe it establishes an interesting association with a very specific concept of death also. This reference to the afterlife allows me to move closer to the necrophilic dimension of culture and to give it the opportunity it deserves to show itself like it is, clearly, without euphemisms or disguises. For this reason, the three works are presented like zombies, like the living dead, like moving inanimate beings. I also consider that the cinematographic effect is nothing other than reanimation, the spastic resuscitation of the photographic image. Photography always ends up being a memento mori. It always goes after the capture of a moment that rapidly becomes an irretrievable one, and then tends to exploit all those nostalgic aspects that relate to this imminent loss. "Holstenwall" is, for me, the great irretrievable element of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". Siegfried Kracauer says that, following this movie, German directors confined one hundred per cent of their filming to the complete control available only in the artificial world of the studios. They preferred not to film from nature. The city of Holstenwall was built entirely within this enclosed space, an example, therefore, of total architecture. By removing actors and moving objects from the film, I emphasized that it was this architecture the one that ended up destroyed, gone forever, irrecoverable, when the filming concluded. This is the dead that is brought to life with the never ending spinning of the projector’s reels. Not any other one.

Frame from Holstenwall showing the Fictional Town in its entirety

Frame from Holstenwall showing a random  street in the Fictional Town

Municipal Offices of Hostenwall

Different frames from "Hostenwall" depicting some landmarks of this fictional town.

Believe it or not, of the entire series, the most ambitious project, and the one that best encapsulates the proposal’s potential is "Solvitur Metambulando: Tropical Ohio". It steals my attention because it has a capacity to address these tropical dynamics as if they were the wanderings of a nomadic experience. The scale of production, in this case, expands itself, surprisingly, to a series of activities that take place within the scope of our new global reality. The proposal is simple. It entails subjecting a text to a constant flow or chain of human translations. As a starting point, I chose "Ohio Impromptu", a short play by Samuel Beckett, since it explores the concept of doppelgänger, of the double, and the copy. In the specific context of La Capella, we can see on display the final results of a first batch of translations; however, this does not stop the continuity of the process which, in fact, has no end, and continually points towards the future promise of new results. Let’s see if I remember the first chain of translations: from English it was translated into Spanish, from Spanish into Traditional Chinese, from Traditional Chinese into Hebrew, from Hebrew into Russian, from Russian into Greek, from Greek into French, from French into Arabic, from Arabic into Hindi, from Hindi into English and from English into Spanish again. This series of translations subjects the original text to a number of linguistic deformations that inevitably render a new text. The final unfolding or outcome is reached by a process of replacing the original pages of "Ohio Impromptu", as originally published by Tusquets, with the content of the last translation. Visitors to the exhibition therefore have the opportunity to read the content of a new title, "Tropical Ohio". The displacements that this text takes within the globalised architecture of today's world, affecting the personal realities of the translators and, at the same time, generating a continuous expectation of new results is what I am most interested to capture in all this process. In short, its transience only bears more opportunism.

Back Cover of the edition of Small Dramaturgy of Samuel Beckett published in Spanish by Editorial Tusquets

Back cover of an intervened edition of Samuel Beckett's short theater pieces published by Editorial Tusquets.

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July 25, 2011

The Required Specs

Spec for the Cogwheel used in Cheval Vapeur to transfer movement from 1 Horsepower Electric Engine

Spec for the cogwheel.

Spec for the Gear used in Cheval Vapeur to transfer movement from 1 Horsepower Electric Engine

Spec for larger gear.

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July 24, 2011

The Mechanics of a Horse Driven by a Horse

Images depicting the Hardware and Gear System used in Cheval Vapeur to transfer movement from 1 Horsepower Electric Engine

Images provided by TallerBDN

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July 19, 2011

Presentation of "BCN Producció'11" Catalogue
Thursday July 21 at 19:30h at La Capella, Barcelona

It is finally here! The Institut de Cultura de Barcelona presents on thursday the catalogue that reviews the eight projects that won the BCN Producció award this year. Another publication superbly designed by the guys at Folch Studio that aims to expand the work presented in the space of La Capella with an interview, and an artist intervention specially conceived for the occasion. The event will also conclude this year edition of the award series, and will mark the beginning of the next one.

Catalogue reviewing the eight projects that won the BCN Producció awarded by The Institut de Cultura de Barcelona
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May 26, 2011

Cultivos egológicos

Deberíamos ser exactos y añadir que este texto, en realidad, se redactó el 26 de mayo de 2036 pero, sintiéndolo mucho, nos es imposible adelantar el calendario.

Como a mediados de los años veinte, sobretodo entre el 2021 y el 2028, se empezaron a distinguir los aspectos más claros de una tendencia que, a la larga, ha resultado ser crucial en nuestra construcción de contemporaneidad, y como, hasta hoy, no ha habido todavía una iniciativa que de fe a la desbocada aceleración de esos acontecimientos, parece que ha llegado la hora de dar reconocimiento a las principales promesas de ese extraño resurgimiento que se ha venido a denominar Supersonalismo Internacional. Esta nostalgia que, en última instancia, parece solo querer recuperar aquella vieja noción de la pose ha vuelto, en las últimas décadas, a ganarse la reputación de los activismos culturales de nuestro tiempo en contraposición a la vieja guardia de las obviedades relacionales. En las últimas semanas la presentación de la muestra «Cultivos egológicos» parece haber conquistado el zenit de lo necesario en esta linea discursiva que empezamos a aceptar como relevante.

Les Autreurs and I've Met Wandy Arhol …and You?

T-shirt by the pioneering art collective The Autreurs.

Ha sido poco a poco, pero inevitable, la contundencia con la que se ha tenido que admitir la radicalidad de las posturas supersonalistas más relevantes de la cultura contemporánea. Ya a finales del siglo XX se iban perfilando las estructuras fundamentales de esta tendencia y esa posibilidad se adueñaba de la inercia cultural del fin de milenio. O DAndy (pronunciado, Oh Dandy!, pero que se entiende como Overdosed Andy), como lo apodan algunos de los participantes de esta muestra, demostró ya el poder sintético de su persona y administro con dosis de severidad absoluta la artificialidad de su ser. Conocido es ya también el discurso autoplástico de Leigh Bowery, Stelark y Orlan entre otros, pero sobretodo no debemos de olvidar las actividades anónimas de los Autreurs porque aunque ya produjeron gran cantidad de simulacra egológica al final de los años 1990s no se supo de sus Histoires d' Autres hasta la publicación de su primera «Estatweb» en el 2012. De todos modos, estas actividades se establecían, desde nuestro punto de vista, de una manera ingenua y algunas veces un tanto tímida.

Las consecuencias simbólicas que el supersonalismo actual ha producido ya no se pueden evitar, se sostienen simplemente en su masificación y popularidad. Aunque la comercialización de este tipo de prácticas no desacreditan en nada el establecimiento indudable de esa tendencia generalizada en el grupo de artistas presentados en la muestra, una tozuda sensación se adueña de ellos, su destacada inclinación hacia una pasividad desconsoladora. Muchos hemos perdido ya la paciencia. Para estos creadores de sí mismos, para estos socializadores del egocentrismo, el límite de la acción esta en la pose misma. Ni más ni menos. No necesitan establecer ninguna lucha.

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May 18, 2011

«La Gran Aventura» at Can Felipa, Barcelona

"La Gran Aventura" is a group show curated by David Armengol that features the works of 14 emerging artists that were in residency at Hangar between 2008 and 2011. By further exploring the hyperbolic fiction present in the series of teenager gamebooks "Choose Your Own Adventure", the exhibition becomes a visual essay, as well as, a narrated account on what it means to be an artist today. It brings a multifarious approach to a notion that, half way between an art's meta-discursive story and a parodic tale, tries to foreground the supposed roles —or impairments— of any art production.

Following the conceptual premise of the show, I've proposed "A Warm Place" in order to further explore the territorializing force of speech acts.

La Gran Aventura - Announcement of the Exhibition curated by David Armengol at Can Felipa, Barcelona
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May 4, 2011

The Precise Consequence of "Solvitur Ambulando"

Perhaps, historicism, its practices, and practitioners, are overwhelmingly concerned with "plagiarism" since it muddies their referential network, and complicates their intent to put the house in order. If contemporary art practice is sure of something, it is certainly sure of not furthering that case of old fashion teleology. Art practice, not just now, but all along, responds, above all, to a call to relevance, an aim to engage in a discursive enactment, not to a call of idiosyncratic isolationism. To make itself fully communicable, the economy of authorial territories can only be constructed by heavily borrowing things. This is where the notion of "tropism" comes to have such a huge place in today's discourse. It is not just that "…solution is achieved by ending the discussion and simply walking away from the opposition". "Solvitur Ambulando" is Diogenes direct response to the Platonic conclusion that motion doesn't exist, and his proof, therefore, that tropes are the sole animators of the symbolic order.

Tropical Ohio - Intervened Title Pages in Editorial Tusquets' Spanish Edition of Short Plays by Samuel Beckett

"Spread of publish intervention in Samuel Beckett's «Impromptu de Ohio» published by Editorial Tusquets, Barcelona."

Tal vez, el historicismo, sus prácticas, y los profesionales acostumbrados a ellas, están abrumadoramente preocupados por el "plagio" porque enturbia su red de referencias, y complica su intención de poner la casa en orden. Si la práctica del arte contemporáneo está segura de algo es, sin duda, la certeza de no querer fomentar ese caso de teleología rancia. La práctica del arte, no sólo ahora, sino siempre, responde, sobre todo, a una llamada a la pertinencia con un solo objetivo, el de formular una apuesta discursiva, no la apología a una desconexión con vistas a una idiosincrasia pura. Para hacerse plenamente transmisible, el territorio de autor sólo puede ser construido por los innumerables préstamos que le brinda su entorno. Aquí es donde la noción de "tropismo" llega a tener un lugar importante en el discurso de hoy. No se trata sólo de que "… la solución se logre poniendo fin a la discusión y simplemente alejarse del contrario". "Solvitur Ambulando" es la respuesta directa de Diógenes a la conclusión platónica de que el movimiento no existe, y prueba, por lo tanto, que los tropos son los únicos animadores del orden simbólico.

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April 12, 2011

"Solvitur Ambulando" at La Capella, Barcelona

As a result of a BCN Producció grant from the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona, «Solvitur Ambulando» presents my latest explorations into the tropic movements of our contemporary culture.

Solvitur Ambulando - Institut de Cultura de Barcelona invitation for Ruben Verdu's Show that was awarded a BCN Producció'11 Price
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November 8, 2010

«The Index». Presentation at MACBA

Within the framework of presentations of the "Se Busca" at the MACBA, I was very happy to collaborate also in "The Index", a project developed together with, Sasha Archibald, a writer and curator from the Bay Area. The collaboration raised a series of questions that, we thought, were relevant to the context of the talks. Enjoy!

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November 6, 2010

"Obrar sin obra". Presentation at MACBA
"Si trio faciunt idem non est idem"

We, Diego Pujal, Ruben Verdu, and Alex Mitrani two artists and a critic, have cross-challenged ourselves to play a game that generates all those discursive elements that grow around —like a wrapper or cover— the work of art, and that usually are developed later, namely: the title, the description, and the critique. The goal is to generate them in mutual support of each other, but without the work that, supposedly, originates them. In this way, we are activating a para-creative process that allow us to bring forward certain questions about authorship, the production of a work of art, and the legitimating discourses that surround it. From the onset, the arbitrary nature of the rules of the game leaves us free from taking any kind of clear side in the issues at stake. Risk is taken solely by jumping into the unknown conclusions of an open ended game, sometimes a bit blasphemous, accepting, meanwhile, the unsettling and the constant tossing around that the results might provoke at the end. You can continue reading more about "Obrar sin obra" here.

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October 6-7, 2010

«Se busca» at the MACBA

The 3rd edition of these curatorial rehearsals by «La Pinta» have gathered an interesting listing of artists and international curators. For this edition I'm presenting a couple of projects on thrusday, the 7th, at the auditorium of the MACBA. Hope to see you all there!!!

Invitation for Se Busca presentations at MACBA, Barcelona
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May 12, 2010

«Moonshine» featured at TimeOut Barcelona

As part of the show «Paradís Perdut, Alg(unes) mirades al voltant del Jardí», «Moonshine» tries to expand on the phenomenology of the screen. The phantasmagorical is a constitutive condition of all screens, but it is, in this instance, more evident since the nature that produces it is inherently blind. To read the rest of the article click here.

Monshine as featured in TimeOut Barcelona as part of Paradis Perdut, Algunes mirades al voltant del Jardí
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February 5, 2010

«Palabra de decapitado» at Can Felipa, Barcelona

Performing «Palabra de decapitado» as the opening introduction to «L'espai de l'intent» at Can Felipa was an excellent opportunity to investigate the potential consequences of a no-goal oriented methodology of work. With this kind of exalted manifesto, I try to figure out what could be the effects of a different cultural priority, one that I intend to identify with an unaffected nomadism that ends, then, much in critical opposition to the imperative aesthetic of the sublime.

Invite for the exhibition L'Espai de l'Intent at Can Felipa, Barcelona
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January 1, 2010

Un devenir très bien connu

Iconography bounding Cosmos to its Frame
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Feb 20, 2008

Interview conducted by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento for CLANCCO

Ruben, I remember first seeing your work at the University of Texas's Glass Gallery, sometime in the early '90s, around 1994. It was a piece with a running electric fan and some text, I believe it included the words: "Prima la porta…" I remember thinking that this work was very different from other work I was seeing at the time...

In truth, you are kind of mixing works, and putting together parts of two pieces that were shown, I think, at end of 1992. The main installation took advantage of the settings which I've always found very curious. As you know, three walls of the gallery were made out of panes of glass that run from floor to ceiling, an issue that not only gave that space its name, the Glass Gallery, but also a certain look of vitrine, of display. The fact is that it wasn't very accommodating space for some artists, especially painters, photographers, and others that rely on walls to show their work. That's why there were permanently a number of floating walls to compensate for that lack of support and opaqueness. It was also high, and overlooking across the border into de colonias of Ciudad Juarez. From there one could enjoy, almost everyday, a full blown sunset. Can you see? It displayed a concrete panoramic, a Benthamian privilege. So I began by emptying the space.

Mater Politica - View of installation at the Glass Gallery

"Mater Politica". Glass Gallery. El Paso, Texas.

It just happened that the only opaque wall that opposed the otherwise transparent scheme of the gallery was placed in front of the door. I could, therefore, organize the viewing accordingly. The installation was titled MATER POLITICA. This was highlighted on that wall which, painted entirely in black, displayed the title of the show in monumental dimensions. I rigged, as well, an industrial fan that blew a huge mass of air toward the door, and prevented a confident entrance into the space. In front of the fan, and blowing with more vigor, there was, most importantly, a white fur flag with eight nipples on each of its sides.

Matr Politica - Detail of Flag

Detail of flag. "Mater Politica". Glass Gallery. El Paso, Texas.

As you know, Gilles Deleuze, was very fond of analyzing territorialization practices. He believed that territorial animals are amazing because to constitute a territory has always been very close to the beginning of all art. One image accompanied my thoughts, then, all the time, the etruscan Capitoline she-wolf that reared Romulus and Remus, that became the symbol of the establishment of the Roman Empire, and a model of our modern concept of State.

Can you talk a little bit about how you ended up in El Paso. How did that experience affected your work?

I arrived to El Paso from a long trip through Mexico and Guatemala. I arrived very politicized, and with intentions to return to the south soon. I was at the time trying to obtain the Mexican nationality. I've always dealt with my kind of blurred, undefinable, mistaken identity, a bit of this, a bit of that, very naturally.

A couple of months ago, I visit again with a very good friend of mine, the writer Roger Colom that lives now also in Spain although he was born and grew up in Ciudad Juarez. When I first met him in El Paso, he began very naturally talking to me in Catalonian. Can you imagine how weird was that for me? We did great work together. We preformed "El Organismo del Animal" in Ciudad Juarez in front of a pack audience. As we know, the social and political situation today makes impossible for these things to happen now there. It's very sad.

El Organismo del Animal as performed together with Roger Colom at La Raya, Ciudad Juarez, México

El Organismo del Animal as performed together with Roger Colom at La Raya, Ciudad Juarez, México

"El organismo del animal". La Raya. Ciudad Juarez, México.

Thanks for the clarification. I always tend to mix up things. But you raise an issue I want to address, so this is going to be a long question. If I'm correct, much of your work tends to reference and/or be influenced by an amalgam of "disciplines" and "discourses": theoretical, historical, literary, and philosophical works (Bentham, Deleuze, Romulus). Not that this is a solitary endeavor, but it's certainly a "mode" of working that is not too popular or evident today. What role do these discourses and practices play in your work, and how important is it for viewers to identify such gramaphones?

I always felt uncomfortable seeing how a culture totemizes its artists. I know this might seem kind of disingenuous, but I've met some of the most celebrated, most mediatized, most trivialized contemporary artists, and I've seen how we've encumbered their endeavors as if they've toiled suspended in a vacuum, destined, or almost exemplifying an unresolved call for ancestral heroics. This kind of individualism, you know, should be considered as to belong to the pre-Historic, that is, far from the concerns of a collective memory. Truth is that our culture is mostly cannibalistic. It's very important to acknowledge this ingestion. What I know of Bentham, of Deleuze, and of Etruscan Art, is far from what they meant. What I'm quoting is what I misread, or misrecognized; in short, what I've missed, what I consumed.

We are all products of an infernal machinery, and I say infernal because it is quite Dantesque at all levels. I aim, above all, to be affected by this monstrous dimension. My ability to respond to it, my rhizomatic responsibility, can only take place there, after I submit to it. How could I otherwise bring my proposals to the scrutiny of an audience? I'm not more than just given to that continuous and pulsing attempt that tries to gain the complicity of others. Isn't this the basic condition of our mutual exchange, of this right to public discourse? I'm given this right to exhibit what, my symptom, or ours?

I relate to your conception of blurred identities. I'm, myself, a U.S. American by birth, of Mexican descent, thus my fucked up sensibilities and my love of dystopia. But perhaps your outlook on subjectivity is exemplary (as exemplary as one can be) of these "situs" and of your own "blurred, undefinable, mistaken identity, a bit of this, a bit of that..." In this light, are you, and your work, proposing an "alternative" or new subjective space, or are you assuming that "who comes after the subject" that Cadava and Nancy's questioned a few years ago?

The masses come after the subject, or, as I just said, go after the subject. The subject is simply a minuscule attempt at an ordering construct. The pulse of the many goes, however, clearly beyond this production of a discreet self. Let's be honest. A priori, we don't have agency in the many. Action from the many is only spontaneous and dependable, meaning that it is reached in coincidence. But let me formulate a possible scenario. Now there are some that propose to serve the tenets of a horizontal cultural exchange, and have acknowledged the existence of what they call a relational aesthetics. This brings about a shift in production priorities up to a point in which is not the traditional subject that manages his or her gestures, expressions, or exposures anymore. Production is spread across. Inevitably we begin to subordinate ourselves to a certain fate, a certain uniformity, a certain social scale that we cannot call subjectivity anymore. That's very exciting. The most acknowledged subject is the public subject, the famous individual, the constantly monitored self that is at the mercy of the tumultuous demands of the crowds. The rest are statistics.

I ask this because in your work there seems to be a desire for a certain eye, a certain ear, and a certain emotive-analytical framework which could be considered Nietzschean perhaps. There's a desire that we certainly encounter when we are facing your work. In this sense, the work reminds me a bit of Tom Stoppard, Gaspar Noe and Jorge Luis Borges. Assuming I am correct, are you an artist's artist?

For me, it is very important the existence of this quotational environment, but in my work I've tried to avoid any meta-takeoffs that will not insure, at least, a visceral response from my audience. I hope it is not necessary to go beyond, and exponentially analyze what should be simply the engagement of a very heterogeneous element that is hardly understood, and that I hold in part responsible for the completion of the work. In any case, it is very hard for me to imagine who is looking at my work, and who I wish was looking at my work.

Notice that you've mentioned four excellent producers of narrative. More than a construction of a subjectivity, I admire how well they unleash an agency, an array of potentialities within the most constrained of circumstances, within the inevitable. This inevitability is ultimately, I think, the real function of the quotational.

Previously, you mentioned ideas of the quotational and the totemizing of artists by a culture. Can you explain this "totemizing" a bit further? I hate to draw binaries, but are we still trapped between the commericalized and romanticized notion/identity of the artist?

It's neither the commercialized or romanticized that bothers me. It's the historicized aspect the one that really interests me. When I say totemizing, I refer above all to the ways in which culture condenses all attention into someone, how it renders cult to them. Culture really goes beyond the quotational here. The quotational works more like a common denominator. To quote is to disperse knowledge, is to include details into the amplitude of a bigger need, to articulate thoughts into other discourses. It's user and abuser friendly. Totemizing, however, as all cultural condensation goes, is found throughout history as characterized by glorifying the individual endeavors of a few, and omit the general conditions that made possible their deeds. It answers solely to a transcendental need, a kind of infantile need. Most of humanity is barred from the economy of history. Within that economy, it is as if we were accepting our anonymity, our disappearance in exchange of encumbering the life of a few we believe represent us in the best light. I find this, of course, to be just of little consolation. What transcendence are we really wishing for? ...one hundred years? ...one thousand years? ...one million years? History has a time limit too. We must think of it as already dying.

Furthermore, I wonder if the aging of an artist is something that is considered, or should be considered, within the realm of artistic production. In some sense this ties back to the quotational in that the library or archive from which to draw from is not only widened, but deepened by the complexities of one's level and ability to interpret and analyze. I fear I am being too generous in regard to many current contemporary artists...

Time entered the equation of capital long time ago, that is, no one can deny its accumulative value. The present cultural milieu, however, does not care about this concept of a time silo. Of course not, it destroys its sense of contemporaneity, its sense of its own endeavors. Otherwise, It's always caught up by what was done by others in the past. On the contrary, it values speed and, above all, loss of memory. I really enjoy witnessing today's response to this traumatic marking of history. Things come and go quickly today, and leave a very faint trace. Indeed, they tend to achieve rapid disappearance. It makes me very happy to somehow witness the so called end of history, this kind of paradigm in which facts and ideas only matter a short moment. To be condemned to repeat things is not so bad after all. In any case, reason has proved not to be a strict guardian against this recurrence.

The disappearance of this collective memory does bring back this cult of individualism that characterizes the cultural landscape today, but it foregrounds it, more than ever, as the mere theatrics of a parade. Don't forget that individualism only takes its monstrous proportions within the transcendental flow of history anything else is just a momentary recognition that has already lost its claim to persist through time, its claim to a historical dimension. At the end, this new individualism is just pleased to glorify itself in the now knowing nothing else, forgetting the forgotten.

Let me say that, recently, I've notice certain curated art exhibitions that still, to this day, "totemize" not only artistic production and the artists, but also their very own academic/intellectual discourses for the sake of facilitating and reproducing well-worn and archaic narratives and subjectivities. Why does this persist? What do you encounter in Barcelona?

A mise en scène allows us in most instances to insert a fiction into the real. That's its only window of opportunity. It proposes fleeting the impositions of the real through that opening. Collective memory has tried for centuries to legitimize itself as an aspect of the real. We cannot say that it has accomplished that. It keeps fleeting our expectative through numerous holes. There's no rationale here. It's purely an aporiac force. As I said before, I keep seeing a need to flatten the picture, to fill our culture with a sense of achievement. That means, at the end, nothing more than to forget. Think, for instance, about that short story by Borges "Funes The Memorious." He is prostrated in bed, condemned to relive every detail of his past as passing through his exhausting and infinitely comprehensive memory. I think, it is very possible to translate this to our contemporary culture, one that has been saturated with so much accumulated precedence that it ultimately justifies its complete deliverance from the past. I think, on those circumstances, it's a very understandable reaction. Accepting this is accepting that we will be certainly condemned, however, to repeat things.

Perhaps, I will be mistaken in suggesting that the quotational has imposed an overwhelming burden on culture. We should be careful to see the difference, however. The quotational is too parochial to weight on us like this, and it's too opened to misrepresentation to generate such understandable reaction. We are talking then about something else. In Barcelona, for instance, the past has built a territory of possible actions that defines artists as professionals within a established economic order that has not changed much from the last one hundred years. Collectors buy objects, and institutions take perhaps a little more risks, but the dynamics of cultural production have radically changed, and there is nothing that can account for it. The most interesting cultural productions are not fruit of a well established professionalism anymore. They are a consequence of short lived efforts that rarely find time to build everlasting coherence. It is indeed a fifteen minute chance, and on that premise little can be expected on the order of entering a durable economic exchange, the one that fostered before the development of more studied and meticulous ideals. Culture is, therefore, floating on a rich field of amateurism. Not bad! We always suspected that it was a rich field, no?...so why shouldn't we now fully embrace this heterodoxy?

You mention Bourriaud's "Postproduction" and "Relational Aesthetics." What else are you reading and more importantly, why? Is it fair to say that the dearth of art criticism and art theory is at an all time low, or, on the contrary, that art historians have come to be worship as a kind of 20th century "icon/monument"?

It seems, indeed, that art criticism, and, in general, any commitment to theory have lost its footing on the affairs of this world. It must be all due to the general acceptance that emphasis on theoretical issues are all a legacy of "rationalism" and that this old fart has been finally put to rest for good. No doubt! The scale of our perspective today has change. The information overload in which we're immersed places us inside a huge panopticon with huge panoramic vistas. We look at the world through the keyhole of the screen. We know, however, that is not a powerful and omnipotent vantage point anymore, but a polymorphous ambiguity, a fascinating hallucinogenic deluge that keeps us distracted and locked into the moment of our experiential present.

Rationalism can only be successful if applied to discreet bits of information, to narrow vistas, to ever so detailed issues, and that has proven to be perfect for the machinations of science and technology. In general, however, our sentiment today is a list of contradictory, irrational and apocalyptic facts. Too much information competes to claim truth on its side. Science and technology cannot counter-balance this sentiment anymore. Neither has been able to sustain a redeeming faith on its delivered goods. Their myopic solutions are, in fact, the ones blamed today for the spoiled state of our planet. Immediate personal indulgence replaces a future built on a constructive change. That is clear.

Bourriaud's "Relational Aesthetics" is interesting to the level that it exposes just that, the rooting of in-transcendental practices. I mean nothing negative in saying that, but it is worth noting that it avoids ambitions beyond those of the formality of the moment, and the actuation of a lived present. In other words, not transcendental here means no place for an activity that goes beyond today into tomorrow. It means there's no postponed benefit. It fully adjusts itself to the use-and-throw-away tactics of our contemporary materialism.

Perhaps we should look more closely at the vistas proposed by Richard Sennett in "The Culture of The New Capitalism". I think he exposes more explicitly than anyone the kind of inevitable consequences this new culture places in our laps. In that context, all is rulled by an intense hyperactivity, in the markets, in politics, etc. This is definitely a sign of a lively culture! But it's well known also that this hyperactivity difficults our capacity to concentrate and to pay attention. He reminds us that "...when citizens act like modern consumers they cease to think like craftsmen". The most intolerable enemy of our contemporary culture is any kind of meritorious accumulated knowledge that by force halts the momentum of this superproduction, of this infinite growth. The use of knowledge takes a heavy toll on the open flux of time. It tends toward specialization, essencialism and dogmatization. Time don't flow well around facts; it manifests itself better in the accidental, in the surprising, in the unknown, in the catastrophic.

...can you tell me a bit about your interest in the "high," the "high-heeled," and its connection to the monstrous?

The monstrous carries with it a great deal of passivity. That's a very fascinating issue to me. Passivity is so all over the place, but it's, all at the same time, so utterly disregarded. The word monstrous brings with it all the underpinnings of its latin origins. Monstrare meant to show something to the scrutiny of an active audience. Under those conditions, the monstrous found itself fully instrumentalized by entering the regiment of the sign in an exceptional way, not determined by convention, but by fascination. After all, to see is to believe. Without having done anything actively to generate so much attention toward itself, this purely displayed "one" continues, nevertheless, enduring its demonstrative status without attempting escape.

Truth is that there's no escape. The monstrous belongs to the ground where the passive one rests fulfilled and happy. There, the visual constructs are mainly unnecessary. Tactile and olfactory stimuli are much more relevant. This is where I prefer to begin. That's my point of departure. In 1998 I showed in Dallas LOVE WITHOUT CONTACT trying to lay out a crude genealogy of visual origins. I manage to move the left and the right walls of the gallery to the middle reducing the space to an extremely narrow cleft only nine inches wide. On those two walls I hung a couple of large paintings in such a way that the conditions of the spatial collapse forced them to be displayed facing each other so close as to almost having their surfaces touching. Love was an important acknowledgment here because love is blind, because this type of intense contact, this being-so-close, this type of alter-knowledge, cannot be constructed through the visual; within it, we cannot step back to take a look, there's no chance to distance oneself from it. This opening, this cleft, was a reminder, however, of the elemental structures necessary for a visual experience to take place. It began deploying the most minimal amount of depth and panoramics on which to construct successfully our visual capabilities, but this opening was, also, the beginning sign of antipathy, difference, separation and distance.

Love Without Contact - Deatiled view of Installation at the Gallery:Untitled, Dallas, Texas

"Love Without Contact". Gallery:Untitled, Dallas, Texas.

The monstrous is a product of this visual detachment, of this visual lift-off; is its debris. Before this departure, experience, like I said, is reduced mainly to pure contact, and this contact, obviously, succeeds on the level it combats any kind of rejection, any kind of repression. Freud, at that stage, imagines a hugely developed world of strong smells. The four-legged animal, for instance, keeps always a nose leveled to genitals and anuses, and this getting closer only intensifies the factual presence of things. At one point, however, some kind of felt anticipation, some kind of alarmed condition, provokes our raising ourselves up from the ground. Our erect posture brings about a huge switch of priorities. On one hand, our genitals get hidden in the inner leg, and, more importantly, are placed far from the nose. At that hight, also, the nose can only get unreliable stimulation because all data has already been mixed up by wind and turbulence in the air. On the other hand, the eye gains a panoramic, a perspective, a depth, it gains the distance necessary to allow the optical architecture to develop fully into an anticipatory apparatus, and to assure, ultimately, the rapid establishment of its insistence and domain. Far from any expression of passivity, I consider this situation more like the gaining of a worried gait, the development of a behavioral pattern based on being on constant alert, up, way high up, and with the eyes wide opened. This distance now cleans and sterilizes most of our perception. Moreover, it idealizes our experience because we're placed away from things, detached, and objectively seeking without remedy that final and convincing demonstration. Far from the dirt of facts, the stage is finally set. There's now plenty of room for fantasy.

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Sept 4, 2007

Resting on A Wild Gait

"The tragic hero, who is the favorite of ethics, is the purely human; him I can understand, and all his undertakings are out in the open."
Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling, Problema III)

Alright, beware of the monsters then! …and let us claim our true vocation, loudly, with fanfare. If we act heroically that must be because silence is definitely not one of our choices. We are all in the open. In the wilderness there is no place to hide, there are no lies, everything comes out naturally. Yes, we are the monsters! Understanding this sudden development has always come late to us. To everyone else that sees us, it is clear from the very start, and when their gaze prey upon our spectacle we'll be convinced, at last, of our few original choices.

Since this monster, the one that speaks (it cannot keep secrets), the one that is always on display (monster comes from the latin monstrare, to show), must acquire some attributes, it chooses what it has always preferred, namely, a wild gait. Or should I say, the wildest of gaits? Among its choices, this monster has always preferred a softer contact with the world, an added lifting, almost a departure. That is, it has always preferred to place only a smaller portion of its feet on the ground, ankles like hocks up in the air. That has been ultimately its only moment of modesty, of circumspection, of concealment, of retreat. It has always known that much. It has always known how to move away gracefully. According to modernity, it has learned how to raise itself tall and slender, how to raise a hairy eyebrow, how to reach and scrape the near by sky…This monster still enjoys to tip-toe its movements on the world, "aux aguets" (lurking), as Deleuze said when trying to find words for a fair description of animal existence, also his preferred existence.

"Oxford Platform Wingtip Heel" Marc by Marc Jacobs, Fall 2007.

This economy of support, believe me, is a question of style, to go no further, but one that has always taken this monster far from other forms of high-heeled folklore. You'll see. My careful steps seemed to have accomplished more than I thought at first when I naturally abandoned myself to this reaching up. I've always believed that this type of posturing appealed to some kind of hidden savagery, to some kind of exalted lifestyle, to hairy legs and hoofs. I felt tuned to the animal form. I'll tell you why…

"Two Toned Buckle Boot" Marc by Marc Jacobs, Fall 2007.

Of course, our vocation is not the first one to be so interested on this kind of departure, this kind of lift off, this air birth. In the Fifth Century A. D. a famed Simeon from Syria made fashionable a lifestyle known later as the Stylite. His fame was so spread out in the Western world that a constant flock of pilgrims was at his side interrupting his ascetic practice. The sight of him, in most cases, was sufficient enough to reward everyone's fascination; but, on leaving him, the agony of not being able to keep with oneself his presence, his example, his clear vision, compelled everyone to grab a souvenir from his meager him. But what could be taken from him? A few strands of hair? Pieces of his leather garment? Secretions from his body? His excrement? Could a demand for a continued supply of relics threaten him perhaps with his complete physical annihilation? In any case, he was clearly everybody's darling.

Nothing could be more iconographic than his wish to incarnate the static. On that he was unmoved. Above all, Simeon was a picture, all eyes fixed upon him. Indeed, his aim had always been the pursuit of the motionless. Stopping a wandering body would stop a wandering mind, and free his devotion from distractions. He succeeded in restricting his movements to a small portion of space, always less and less, forcing his body to remain standing for days, and tying himself to a pole to keep vertically for even longer. His body, a figurant of himself, obeyed only the rigorous orders of a mortis commandment, an everlasting standstill. He became a living stiff…For that, again, he was even more everybody's darling.

Landlocked, bounded to this motionless minimum, and overwhelmed by the presence of his followers, he had no other choice than to insure, at least, a vertical escape. Style was to become, from then on, synonymous to living aloof, on a higher register, a higher echelon. Indeed, Simeon chose to live on top of a column (styloi in Greek) eighteen meters high. He spent there the last thirty-seven years of his life.

"Simón del desierto" Luis Buñuel, 1965.

The stiletto is a god-like animal choice. I should better say, Goat-god-like, Panic, monstrous, partly animal, partly human, but wholly divine in its double choice. Wearing it, one is always rampant. With it, one is always posturing a clear detachment from the world, always threatening to begin a lift off. Only partly, though. In Luis Buñuel's "Simón del desierto" we hear the penitent say to a sheperd: "Believe me brother, I eat and drink as it fits to my necessity…on that other necessity, that to evacuate, I say my excrement is like the one of your goats…" A relationship to the divine is always tempered by necessity. The fetish, the symbolic charge of the relic, is also tempered by necessity. We have not forgotten Freud's words: "…substances that are expelled from the body [are] doomed by their strong smells to share the fate which overtook olfactory stimuli after man adopted the erect posture." And a bit earlier "…Their role was taken over by visual excitations, which, in contrast to the intermittent olfactory stimuli, were able to maintain a permanent effect." Rampant is indeed our posturing, visual our ultimate hallucination.

Illustration of Anatomical Similarities between Ungulates and High Heel Users

"Compared Anatomy"

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March 12, 2007

"Oh,Toni!" at MoMA multimedia

I was happy to see that MoMA included «Oh, Toni!» in their site. Working with The Residents was an opportunity to pay homage to a band, as well as a radical approach to culture, that I admire and followed since its beginning. This short fictional narrative is built from manipulated historical references that confront an episode of criminal violence with the punishment that, at the end, it always elicits with equal violence.

Oh, Toni! - Still image of video for the River of Crime by The Residents for the show curated by Barbara London at MoMA