The texts are written by Manuel Segade, a Spanish-born independent curator based in Paris; and by British Barcelona-based curator Max Andrews of Latitudes, offering critical and analytical perspectives from both the inside and the outside of Spain.
"Art and Society in Spain on the Edge of Critical Emergency" by Manuel Segade written for the September 2013 issue of Artpress (see pages below), offers a brief genealogy from the 1990s until today, mapping the rise and the activities of art centres, museums, art fairs, commercial galleries and artists. (Click on the images below for a larger view of the text.)
"On a Shoestring – Institutions in Catalonia" written for the October 2013 issue (#158) of frieze magazine by Max Andrews of Latitudes, focuses on the art scene of the Catalan capital and the effects of its cultural policies towards the creative industries. Mentioning the documentary MACBA: The Right, the Left and the Rich (1h 27m, 2013) [watch it here – in Catalan with Spanish subtitles] as an example of a critical strategy, the text questions the direction of the city's politics with regards to art.
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Ferran Barenblit, who was until recently the director of Santa Mónica, and who now heads the art center Dos de Mayo outside Madrid, believes that Spain doesn’t have enough international pull and has lost its “exotic” status in the ever-expanding European community. “Barenblit can be very critical with respect to the homegrown arts scene,” writes Worthmann. “But he holds the unclear reception from outside the country responsible for the lack of resonance.” Chus Martínez, who headed the Frankfurt Kunstverein before recently heading to Barcelona to direct the MACBA collection, adds some “geopolitical” arguments. “Germans, for example, orient themselves above all toward the United States and, since reunification, strongly toward the east,” Martínez told the newspaper. “Spain long existed on the outside. We were never a stop on the Grand Tour, nor could we profit later from the Marshall Plan.” The Franco dictatorship, which ended just over thirty years ago, also played a major role in the isolation of the country’s artists. Despite the end of the dictatorship, many artists still leave the country. And despite the rise of several spectacular exhibition sites—MUSAC in León, MACBA in Barcelona, Herzog and de Meuron’s Caixaforum in Madrid, Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao, and Madrid’s Matadero, a multidisciplinary center that will be fully complete in 2011—few institutions have managed to create a “solid profile.” “For regional politicians, often the architectural gesture was more important than the ongoing maintenance of an ambitious program,” writes Worthmann, who adds that museum directors are often at the mercy of changing ruling parties of the government. Despite new directives for running museums from the minister of culture, the sudden closure of Santa Mónica as an art center is a case in point.
As for ARCO, a public initiative dating from the 1980s, the new director Lourdes Fernández will be decreasing the number of Spanish galleries in order to increase international participation at the fair. Last year, the fair dedicated more space to curatorial projects featuring artworks with an experimental edge. “And the display window has long functioned in both directions,” writes Worthmann. International collectors acquire Spanish art while Spanish collectors are increasingly acquiring works by international artists. In 2009, all purchases may well be welcome, whatever the artist’s origin.
On another note, Matt Elmore from the The Art Newspaper has also written about the Barcelona art scene, though giving a much more simplistic and superficial account - including mistakes such as the "Santa Monica space as a visual arts centre devoted to Catalan artists...", when only one of the three exhibition spaces it had was penciled for Catalan or Spanish artists. See archive of previous shows to see exhibition history between 2003-9.
A continuación una selección del artículo 'Verde es el color del dinero' de Mariano Navarro que se publicó en el suplemento 'El Cultural' de 'El Mundo' el 13 Marzo 2008:
Max Andrews, 'El arte después de la ecología' / 'Art after Environmentalism', Art&Co, Número 1, Invierno 2008 / Number 1, Winter 2008, pp.28-32 & 116-118 (English translation). Descargar pdf aquí (3.7MB)
- Curated by ... Mariana Cánepa Luna, NOT Cánapa.
- The exhibition will be on view until 11 May.
José Antonio Hernández-Díez
Galería Estrany de la Mota, Barcelona, Spain"... Hernández-Díez seems to have hastily assembled all the elements for a dizzy new religion ... "
Max Andrews's review at Frieze.com
Review of the publication 'With/Without: Spatial Products, Practices and Politics in the Middle East'
Bidoun sub-site here.
Issue 3 of the sharp-suited Vancouver-based Art/Design/Literature Pyramid Power has just come out with an extended version of Max Andrews's interview with Revolver founder Christoph Keller, originally published in the Latitudes-edited UOVO issue 14. Here it is titled "Still Not a Hippie: Interview with Christoph Keller on the Future of the Book & Life on a Farm"
Unfortunately the mind-blowing products from Herr Keller's Stählemühle distillery can only be ordered within Germany.