Longitudes

Barcelona inaugurates the 2013–14 season with a new art map

Asociación de Galerías
de Arte Contemporáneo
Art Barcelona - See more at: http://www.artbarcelona.es/es/directorios.html#sthash.iopEshqs.dpuf
Asociación de Galerías
de Arte Contemporáneo
Art Barcelona - See more at: http://www.artbarcelona.es/es/directorios.html#sthash.iopEshqs.dpu
Map with suggested route available on the Circuit de l'Art Contemporani website 

Habemus gallery listings!

Barcelona inaugurates the 2013–14 season with new signage and gallery map. The itinerary, presented yesterday to the media, suggests a route from west to east of the city, from Montjuïc's Fundació Miró to Sant Andreu's Fabra & Coats - Centre d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, via most of the contemporary art galleries that concentrate in the city centre. Besides the online and physical map, visitors will find two-metre high poles crowned with a pill (galleries marked in pink; museums, foundations and art centers in blue) placed at the entrances of each venue offering additional information (via QR codes and contactless device) about the adjunct venue (exact address, opening hours, website). 

Promoted by Art Barcelona (Gallery Association of Contemporary Art) the 240,000 Euro initiative maps out 26 galleries and 11 art centre locations as well as a calendar of events and openings, both in English (30,000 copies have been printed) and Catalan (20,000 copies) updated quarterly. On a second phase there will be a mobile app with additional information on the artists and programming.


 Detail of the information given in one of the poles marking a gallery location.

Although the map is quite comprehensive, it is a shame that after years of waiting for an initiative of this kind that matches that of cities such London, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam or Glasgow, to only mention a few, other Barcelona galleries such as etHALL, production and studio facilities like Hangar, artist-run and independent spaces such as Halfhouse, Homesession or A*Desk amongst others, are not represented in the listings. Neither are city or government funded spaces such as Sala d'Art Jove, Can Felipa or Sant Andreu Contemporani. Adding them to the 'official' map (which is part funded by the city and the Catalan regional government) would not only help in offering a more textured panorama of the city locating private and public spaces, but would also instigate a much-needed generosity from top-down and show the city willingness to share its promotional tools.

On a final note, it is perhaps curious that Arts Santa Mònica [formerly the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica (CASM)] is missing. Yet as the new General Director of Creativity and Cultural Companies Jordi Sellas, recently announced the reorientation of its programming to become "a centre of activity more than an exhibition space" (...) "a radar for new cultural tendencies", it is perhaps a final confirmation that what used to be Barcelona's kunstverein is not longer recognisable as a venue of contemporary art (see this blog post). 

Downloadable map with suggested routes here.

Programming here. Includes addresses, listings and forthcoming openings and events.



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Süddeutsche Zeitung reports the "malaise" of Spanish contemporary art

Last weekend an article on the Spanish art landscape appeared in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (pdf 248KB), which was later reported and summarised in English by Jennifer Allen in Artforum.com's International News Digest (week 12 January 2008).

According to the writer, Merten Worthmann, the Spanish art scene lacks experimentation and this is effecting Spanish galleries as well as ARCO, the country's main art fair. The whole discussion as to why Spanish contemporary art is not where it should be on the international map is not an easy one to tackle. The truth is, there is not one reason – there are as many as there are challenges. Although a lot has been achieved in the last 30 years of democracy and today we have many museums and art centres, the question is now not just about more, but about improving and investing in the existing quality.

Here is a 'shopping list' for starters: renewed focus on debate and theory with productive confrontations; targeted resources for medium-scale institutions; engaged art magazines and cultural supplements with less 'press release-y' or purely descriptive writing; simplification and modernisation of the 'cultural-export' model of funding and bureaucracy to reflect contemporary practice; wider transparency in selection processes for key curatorial positions; pragmatic vocational teaching at graduate level (and a life for post-Picasso art history); a competitive postgraduate art practice programme that meets the international standards of Amsterdam's Rijksakademie or Frankfurt's Städelschule; improved teaching of foreign languages; fiscal benefits to autónomos (self-employed) on a par with other EU countries...

The list continues. Without trying to sound profound or political, changes have to be made from within through sheer initiative, and that, alongside rabid generosity, is surely the way forward. It is certainly not all doom and gloom (we would not be here otherwise!), but the current economic climate will certainly focus the minds as well on the 'values that we value'. Onwards 2009!
Here is Artforum's summary...

REPORT FROM SPAIN (Artforum.com, International News Digest)
 
In anticipation of ARCO, the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Merten Worthmann delivers a mixed report from Spain. According to Worthmann, the young Spanish arts scene is missing some experimentation—a deficiency that has had a negative impact on both galleries and the Madrid-based fair. Moreover, the Centre d’Art Santa Mónica—which has featured exhibitions by younger artists—will be closing at the end of January, according to a directive from the Catalan minister of culture. “Barcelona is a kind of anti-Berlin,” says Bartomeu Marí, head of Barcelona’s MACBA. “A city that doesn’t know how to attract any artists.” For Worthmann, the closure of Santa Mónica is a sign of a larger malaise. “The Spanish arts scene suffers from its weak connection to central Europe, the center of the market, and of discourses,” writes Worthmann, who cites the lack of both an international public and a national network. “To be an artist in Spain is a handicap, both inside and outside the country,” artist Jorge Galindo told the newspaper.

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.

Gone with the wind: on the 'art crunch' and the Centre d'Art de Barcelona, the saga continues...




Happy Christmas.

The dark cloud looming over the art world in recent months is how the worldwide economic recession is going to hit. We've already seen some of its consequences (from the dire situation of MoCA LA's finances to the apparent 'return to painting' in the art market), but what about daily practicalities? How is the lack of cash flow or
collapse of the British pound, for instance, going to affect programming in art centres and museums? Is waning support for new productions, residencies, research and travel obvious already?

In the Nov–Dec. Frieze, Dan Fox wrote around the last recession in the 1990s, when "
newspapers and television talked about art rather than the art market and how dynamic or corrupt it might be" and when there were "fewer of everything: fewer artists, curators, galleries, magazines, art consultants, private foundations." As Fox states, the credit crunch is also a "content crunch". Having exchanged "crunchy" opinions with a few artists and curators recently, one senses that the relentless rhythm of e-fluxes and the like, and the constant proliferation of and aspiration to travel to and from biennials/triennials/quadrennials, art fairs, symposiums, gala dinners, discussion platforms, art auctions, etc. are feeling increasingly, well, just too much. Maybe a downsizing will have its benefits?


Bringing in some examples close to home, one wonders how are the many Spanish museums that have appeared in the last decade facing up to the new economic year. In Catalunya alone, there has been a flourishing of art centres (Lleida, Granollers, Girona (with temporary venues)), and soon there will be further venues in Vic and Tarragona. On the other side of the coin, in Barcelona already a few key art spaces, which offered invaluable support for new commissions, have already 'gone with the wind' and there is a clear lack of infrastructure and of competitive study programmes (La Vanguardia, 30/11/08). Sala Montcada, for instance, has gone. Operating since 1981, it has just had its two final seasons at Caixaforum after much revolt within the artistic community when, in 2005, 'La Caixa' foundation announced its closure and then stayed its execution – at least until now.
After two lacklustre seasons with works produced by Le Fresnoy, Espai 13 in Fundació Miró, began to show signs of life again last October with a programme curated by Jorge Díez. But most notably there was the sudden closure (or 'reconversion'/new orientation in the words of the politicians) of the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica (CASM), whose programme limps on until early 2009. The pre-Christmas news (El País, 10.12.08) was that the announcement of the new venue for the long-awaited replacement kunsthalle space (renamed as Centre d'Art de Barcelona - see post 17.07.08) will be located in a 1,200m2 space in the newly-opened 'Imagina' building. Built in the former site of a textile factory, Ca l'Aranyó in the new-technology branded district called [email protected], east of the city, the site is near the future Disseny Hub Barcelona, the Auditori, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, and Hangar, Barcelona's only surviving production and residency centre, in Poblenou. According to councillor Joan Manuel Tresseras, the new art centre will be a joint force of the Ajuntament de Barcelona (Barcelona City Council) and the Conselleria de Cultura (Art Department of the Catalan Government). But, two days later the Ajuntament said they knew nothing about this new venture (El País, 12.12.08) becoming clear that Tresseras wanted to close the 'open wound' that began with the 'reconversion' of CASM, before its new director, Vicenç Altaió, announces the new exhibition programme.

Dejà vu? How can Tresseras insist on providing a transparent procedure of selection for a new director for the art centre, when there is a clear and alarming lack of transparency, dialogue and set of priorities amongst the cultural agents operating within the same city? How can an independent management and operational funding be secured to attract a competitive bunch of professionals to apply following an open-call selection process? Ideally it should also establish an open call not only for its head figure, but for its whole team, from organisers to restaurant caterers. Find the best, by offering the best.

1st Catalan Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2009: Institut Ramon Llull appoints Valentín Roma as curator



The Institut Ramon Llull (IRL), has announced today the appointment of Valentín Roma as the first curator of the Catalan Pavilion. The project will include works by 3 artists/groups: the 'Archive FX' by Pedro G. Romero; the 'Post-capital archive' by Technologies to the People (a multimedia project conceived by Daniel Garcia Andújar) and work by Sitesize, 'a platform of project founded by Elvira Pujol and Joan Vila-Puig that explores the territori of social analysis and creative processes'.

Curator Valentín Roma (Sabadell, 1970) currently teaches at various post-graduate art and design schools (Mecad, Eina, Elisava) and has a PhD in Aesthetics by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.
Amongst his recent curatorial projects are: 'Don’t believe them' (La Capella, Barcelona, 2008); Al otro lado del espejo, Col·lecció d’Art Contemporani de «la Caixa», Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente (Fuenlabrada, 2007); 'Barcelona Producció ‘06' (with Amanda Cuesta and Manuel Olveira, 2006); 'Pedro G. Romero. Archivo F.X.' (PhotoEspaña 04, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, 2004); 'Muntadas. On Translation: Museum' (with Enric Franch and José Lebrero Stals), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2003).

The jury, chaired by Manuel Borja-Villel (Director Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía), comprised Ignasi Aballí (participating artist Venice Biennial 2007); Daniela Ferretti (curator Palau Fortuny, Venice); Marta Gili (Director Jeu de Paume, Paris), Chus Martínez (Chief Curator MACBA, Barcelona, and Director of Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt) and Vicent Todolí (Director Tate Modern, London) − made their selection on 26 September after interviews with three finalist (the runners-up have not yet been announced). A total of 18 projects were presented by 32 individuals from an international background (Mexico, Italy, Finland, Switzerland and the US).


In the press release the jury also comments on their initial intention to resign in order to support the "open crisis" created by the sudden change of hands of Barcelona's Centre d'Art Santa Mònica (see post 17.07.08) leaving the city with no 'kunsthalle' space. In the note, the jury also acknowledges the transparency of IRL's procedure which led to the selection of the curator of the Catalan Pavilion as exemplary of the 'Código de buenas prácticas' (Code of good practice) design to avoid 'al dedo' ('made') job appointments in art institutions.

In the next phase the semi-finalised project will be presented to the La Biennale di Venezia Foundation and to the 2009 artistic director, Daniel Birnbaum, for final approval as part of the Eventi Collaterali.

The project will take place at the Magazzini del Sale (space #3, see image above), a 500 square metre venue in the cultural area of Dorsoduro (address: Zattere 259), nearby the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Palazzo Grassi which hosts the collection of French businessman François Pinault (Japanese architect Tadao Ando is refurbishing the nearby space Punta della Dogana to become the new space for Pinault's collection, planned to open Summer 09).

[Top photo: views of the Magazzini del Sale © Comune di Venezia; Bottom photo: detail of the Magazzini, http://flickr.com/photos/tsukimi/2301471755/in/photostream]

Ferran Barenblit out, Vicenç Altaió in at the Centre d'Arte Santa Mònica (CASM), Barcelona

Last weekend was a turbulent one for the Barcelona art scene. On Friday 11th the Culture Councillor Joan Manuel Tresserras announced the appointment of a new director for the Centre d'Arte Santa Mònica (CASM): Vicenç Altaió, who modestly describes himself as a 'poet, writer, catalan translator, theatre critic, art critic, opinion generator and cultural agitator' and until then the director of KRTU ("Culture, Research, Technology, Universal"). The trouble was, however, that CASM already had a director: Ferran Barenblit, appointed during the summer in 2002. If you'll excuse the football link, the act was not unlike FC Barcelona's recent appointment of 'the next' head coach Guardiola when Frank Rijkaard was still at the club. Invitations to leave are never easy, political muggings of a cultural institution are even harder to bear. On this occassion the news of this affair has hit the press and blogs with general signs of bewilderment, disappointment and bitterness.

For those not entirely familiar with the Barcelona art landscape, CASM has followed the kunsthalle model with funding from the local government (Generalitat de Catalunya) and occasional sponsors. Under Barenblit's directorship, a series of adjunct local curators (Montse Badia, David G. Torres, Frederic Montornés) and international guest curators (Miguel Von Hafe Pérez, Jacob Fabricius) have produced exhibitions and projects by artists such as Christian Jankowski, Tomás Saraceno, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Dora García, Maria Eichhorn, Joao Tabarra, Filipa César, Nedko Solakov, Runa Islam, Maria Nordman, Cabelo, Juan López, Peter Liversidge, Carles Congost, Antoni Abad, Francesc Ruiz, Joan Morey, Mike Nelson, Joachim Koester, Toni Matelli, Jill Magid, Ceal Floyer and Jiri Kovanda (see our blog from 20.11.07) amongst many other group shows (Think, Hamsterwheel...). Currently, CASM is one of the institutions invited to participate in 'Lucky Number Seven' Site Santa Fe with a compelling project by Martí Anson.

Manolo Borja-Villel, the recently appointed director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (see our post 23 December) has declared in El País that, "the fact that the government imposes a project ... at best, as an instrument of propaganda, indicates a regression to dark times" (this and other quotations translated from the Spanish / Catalan). According to El Pais (12 July) during the presentation of the new director, Culture Councillor Tresserras insisted "there are no victims left along the way" and that the centre and the general budget (750,000 Euros/annum) will still exist, but in a new location (still to be discussed with the townhall). He added "Barenblit's programme was interesting, but the centre didn't have the social performance required". Barenblit was not invited to the presentation, and, the promise of the new location not being confirmed, he handed in his resignation. Later Barenblit declared "it is the best moment [to resign], after receiving the compromise that the new centre is under discussions. I'm coinvinced that my departure is the best guarantee that this process takes place; I always said that directors should have an expiry date ... CASM collaborated with many artists and local entities and promoted Catalan art abroad".

There had been rumours for several months (see El Periodico, 18.02,08 or even earlier this month the possible relocation of CASM was discussed with the president of the Visual Artists Association (AAVC), see El País 05.07.08) claiming that CASM was going to be taken over by the Generalitat and would be converted into a center for Catalan culture, speculation that has prompted numerous strongly-worded responses by various art associations (visual artists association, association of museum directors, art gallery associations...). With this shadow looming over CASM, the programme in recent months has sufferred an inevitable slide.

The new CASM director Vicenç Altaió will take his position in January 2009 and turn CASM into what is described in the vaguest of terms as "a multidisciplinary center for art, science, thought and communication". The questions are, what place 'the new CASM' can take on the Barcelona art landscape? Does the city need another venue for diluted cultural programming? What happened to the 'código de buenas prácticas' (code of good practice) that was decided last year by the Ministry of Culture, whereby "made" appointments were to be replaced by an open-application advisory-panel system based on merit? Where else will ambitious new work be produced in the city? In recent years Barcelona has suffered from the abrupt disappearance of art spaces including Sala Metrònom, the 'relocation' of Sala Montcada from the city centre – its now sited at Caixafòrum– and the failure of Espai 13 in Fundació Miró to produce relevant and informed projects. There is sadly little space for experimentation, fertile discussion or risk-taking.

What is most dismaying is the utter control the Barcelona politicians seem to have over publicly funded cultural programmes. There is, it seems, a lack of support and respect for the work of experienced and trained art professionals and as there is always an ominous cloud hanging over institutions or initiatives when a (4-yearly) change of administration takes effect, there is little continuity and plenty of suspicion. Working within such constant bureaucratic insecurity is never productive and it undermines confidence and creativity. Instead cultural programmes should have their own administrative cycles, their own secured funding, their own staff who are independent from state workers and protected from temporary or mileuristas contracts and their own governing board. It should go without saying that directors should be free to foment long-term creative relationships with the local scene as well as with national and international contexts.

Many questions remain unanswered: where will the proposed new Kunsthalle be? Why didn't CASM have an independent administrative and advisoary board to prevent such undemocratic moves and defend the exhibition programme? Who will now steer and programme such a space? And admist this political-cultural debacle, another factor has been unleashed: who will take control over the first Catalan Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennial in the Magazzini del Sale? Incidentally, the proposals (open submission until 2 September) for the pavilion will be assessed by a jury of six artists and curators and the decision will be made public on 1 October.

UPDATE 30.07.08:
Ferran Barenblit appointed director of the recently opened Centro Dos de Mayo, Móstoles (Madrid). His proposal was selected amongst 26 candidates by a committee of experts (Rafael Doctor, director of MUSAC, León; Lourdes Fernández, director of ARCO; José Guirao, director of La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Isabel Rosell, general director of Archives, Museums & Libraries of the Comunidad de Madrid and Carlos Urroz, advisor of Fine Arts to the Consejería de Cultura y Turismo de la Comunidad de Madrid). He will take up his new job in September. More here and here (all links in Spanish).

To read responses from different parties around Barcelona's cultural politics, read posts on http://cassantamonica.wordpress.com and on http://www.culturadebase.net (in Spanish and Catalan)

[Photos: Kris Martin, 'The End' (2005) (included in the SantaMòniCA 2007 summer show 'PENSA/PIENSA/THINK' curated by Montse Badia, Ferran Barenblit, Jacob Fabricius and Frederic Montornés) and below Ferran Barenblit (left) with Christian Jankowski talking to Joan Manuel Tresserras (right) in May 2007 during the launch of Jankowski's Living Sculptures]

Hamsterwheel & Jiri Kovanda, Centre d'Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona

El viernes 16 se inauguró la exposición-consulta 'JIRI KOVANDA vs EL RESTO DEL MUNDO', comisariada por la agencia curatorial Work Method dirigida por Guillaume Désanges y François Piron. La exposición presenta fotografías de performances realizadas por Jiri Kovanda en los 70 (presentadas en la zona superior blanca) acompañadas de fotocopias con obras de la cultura occidental que sugieren conexiones con la obra del artista (en la zona inferior gris). La muestra ha ido viajando por diversos centros (gb agency, Paris; De Appel, Amsterdam...) y en cada uno de ellos se reedita el material expuesto y se presenta una pieza nueva realizada por el artista checo.


También incluimos fotos de la instalación de 'HAMSTERWHEEL', un proyecto de Franz West, comisariado por Antonio Ortega y con la participación de Reinhard Bernsteiner, David Bestué/Marc Vives, Songül Boyraz/Peter Holl, Philippe Bradshaw, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Urs FischerOlivier Garbay, Gelitin, Douglas Gordon, Heiri Häfliger, Rachel Harrison, Sarah Lucas, Bernhard Martin, Rubén Martinez, Mel O’Callaghan, Antonio Ortega, Rudolf Polanszky, Anselm Reyle, Tamuna Sirbiladze, Una Szeemann, Piotr Uklanski, Frank West y Toby Ziegler.

Centre d'Art Santa Mònica
del 09/11/2007 al 03/02/2008
La Rambla, 7 | 08002 Barcelona
Tel. 93.316.28.10 | Fax. 93.316.28.17
[email protected]
Martes–Sábado; 11-20h domingos y festivos: 11-15h. Lunes cerrado. Entrada Gratuita.


Christian Jankowski – Living Sculptures



Christian Jankowski's 'Living Sculptures' on display at Las Ramblas for the next two-weeks outside Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona.

Tomás Saraceno

Post-leakage view of project by Tomás Saraceno at Centre d'Art Santa Mònica / CASM, the institution with possibly the best programme in Barcelona, but certainly the one with the most useless website. Also showing Jack Pierson and Joan Morey.

Longitudes cuts across Latitudes’s projects and research with news, updates, and reportage.

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Founded in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Latitudes is a curatorial office based in Barcelona, Spain, that works internationally across contemporary art practices.

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