Several admirable artist-run initiatives have recently made refreshing incursions into the Barcelona cultural landscape. Self-organisation and sustained micro-activity outside the major institutions have been uncommon in recent years. Yet as the city awaits the opening of the future 'Kunstverein' of Barcelona, the Canòdrom Centre d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (the planned Spring 2011 opening now suffering delays and budget cuts), and with a continuing lack of flexible grants and affordable rents, innovative projects have sprung up through necessity. These have often been sporadic and ephemeral, such as the weekend group exhibition of about 30 artists 'Entes' at the flat of artist Luz Broto's last November (video here, photo documentation here) or 'Domestica 2' an open-submission group show organized by artists Antoni Hervàs, Ariadna Parreu and Consol Llupià, whose second edition took place in early July in a former bicycle repair shop. ('Entes' will take shape again as the summer show at gallery Àngels Barcelona (22 July–18 September 2010), an interesting transition.)
The opening of 'Short Time', December 2009. Courtesy: Halfhouse Espacio
Halfhouse Espacio, which operates as an association in order to be able to apply for grants, is an exhibition space of about 10m2 in the private apartment of artists Alberto Peral and Sinéad Spelman. It opened on December 2009 with 'Short Time', a screening programme of 15 videos under 1 minute by artists David Bestué, Luis Bisbe, Jesús Palomino, Gabriel Pericàs, Jorge Satorre and Daniel Steegmann, amongst others, as well as a site-specific work by Renata Lucas.
Site-specific work 'camouflaged' in the house by Renata Lucas. Courtesy: Halfhouse Espacio
'5 Platonic Solids' followed in April 2010, with a 'chain invitation' by artists and curators that led to the presentation of works by Daniel Jacoby, Paloma Polo, Christian Friedrich, Johannes Wald and Florian Kohler and last June they presented 'Puede que nadie vuelva a tener el mismo conocimiento' a project by Maria Castelló Solbes and Regina de Miguel.
Halfhouse's programme not only includes exhibitions. In their manifesto, they announce the intention of offering 'discursive support, tortilla and wine' as well as opening up to other formats such as residencies (the first of which takes place this summer as a flat swap), performances and talks. Their most recent show, 'Lo de siempre raras veces ocurre', opened on a very humid 16 July with a strong selection of works displayed in the 'exhibition' space, as well as in the private space of the flat, by 4 students from the Fine Arts Department at the Universitat de Barcelona: Serafín Álvarez, Mercedes Mangrané, Gerard Ortín, and Rafel Marcos Mota. The latter lay underneath a gold emergency blanket for the most part of the opening as a test of resistance to the event as well as the high temperature. Álvarez presented two works: '±2.5 g (I Believed I Could Fly)' consisting of two silver balloons tethered to 10g weights at a height of 160cm – susceptible to human and atmospheric changes; as well as the performative piece 'Sube a velocidad constante, fría y pequeña, aunque en el torrente sanguíneo te mate', for which he poured cava into an empty glass with a microphone amplifying the bubbles. Gerard Ortín's video 'El Truco' showed his cat snoozing in a garden. During the opening, the artist honked an old-fashioned horn coinciding with a moment when the animal was startled from its sleep as if claiming its attention in a delayed interaction between owner and pet. Mercedes Magrané's two short videos (one on a TV monitor, another projected) showed views of the apartment space, one is an objective view of the flat (a sort of promotional agency video of the property) and the other being a more intimate portrait of inhabited space (afternoon light, the artist touching a plant…).