Longitudes

Last days! Cover Story and exhibition of José Antonio Hernández-Díez: techno-pop, death and resurrection

Monthly cover story on www.lttds.org

José Antonio Hernández-Díez’s exhibition No temeré mal alguno (I will fear no evil) – curated by Latitudes – continues at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) until 26 June. Reconstructed for the exhibition, the extraordinary Sagrado Corazón Activo was first shown in September 1991 in a group show titled El Espíritu de los Tiempos (The Spirit of the Times) in Caracas, Venezuela. It belongs to a body of work that José termed a ‘New Christian Iconography’ in which the application of communications and medical technology interlace with systems of paranormal belief, most prominently Christian theology.


Published as part of MACBA’s Portable Notebook series, Latitudes’s essay about José’s exhibition explains that “this visceral work deals with a key point of difference in theologies related with transubstantiation and ‘real presence’ – the notion that Jesus Christ is actually somehow present in a fleshy way in the bread and wine of the Eucharist versus being a symbolic or a metaphorical presence. Sagrado Corazón Activo seems to inhabit the peculiarly disjointed temporality that is proper to hauntology – a techno-medical vision of a science-gone-mad future within an ancient symbolic past.”   

Photo: Inés Balcells for ABC El Mundo.

No temeré mal alguno (I will fear no evil) focusses on José’s first experimental works with videography in the late 1980s and early 1990s and such early iconic vitrine-based works, alongside a new project made for the occasion. The presence of ghosts and bodily organs in this phase of Hernández-Díez’s out-of-joint art – videographic spectres, disembodied voices, preserved creatures, hearts and skin – is only enhanced by the necromantic aspect of the fact that several of his works were remade, as if brought back to life, for the exhibition.

#HernándezDíez
  
Related content:

Reseñas sobre la exposición "No temeré mal alguno" de José Antonio Hernández-Díez en el MACBA

A una semana de concluirse la exposición de José Antonio Hernández-Díez en el MACBA (finaliza el 26 de junio), hacemos revisión de la cobertura de prensa más relevante que ha recibido (por orden cronológico) y que encontraréis bajo la pestaña "Contenidos relacionados" en la sección final de ésta y en todas nuestras páginas, espacio desde donde también compartimos entradas al blog.

Compartimos una vez más el registro fotográfico de la exposición y el archivo de redes sociales (reseñas, instagrams, tweets) que diferentes usuarios han ido publicando a lo largo de los tres meses que ha durado la exposición. 

Recordad que quedan dos activides más: el 22 de junio, 19h, se proyectará "Vampyr" de Carl Theodor Dreyer (1932, Francia y Alemania, 75 min, b/n, sin sonido) dentro del ciclo "Sombras y silencios o los fantasmas que vuelven como la primera vez" que comisaría el cineasta Andrés Duque para la exposición y el sábado 25 de junio, 19h, Nieve Fuga realizará un concierto en vivo en la sala de exposiciones en el contexto de la programación #MACBAesviu, un collage sonoro inspirado en las obras de la exposición
 
“Las obras de José Antonio Hernández-Díez toman el MACBA”, eldiario.com, 17 marzo 2016.


“El MACBA acull una exposició amb instal·lacions experimentals de José Antonio Hernández-Díez”, Vilaweb.com, 17 març 2016.

Núvol, video by Ester Roig, 17 març 2016.
 

Sonia Ávila, "José Antonio Hernández-Díez mira a su pasado”, El Periódico, 17 marzo 2016.

Carlos Sala “Cuando el video era el rey”, La Razón, 18 marzo 2016.
 

Griselda Oliver, "Viu o mort. El gos d’Antonio Hernández-Díez", Núvol.com, 19 març 2016.


Eugènia Sendra, “Com recuperar la fe perduda”, revista Time Out, 23 març 2016.

Javier Díaz-Guardiola, “La obsolescencia artística programada también existe”, ABC Cultural, 25 marzo 2016.
Antoni Ribas Tur, "Nova iconografia religiosa i un gos sant, al Macba”, www.ara.cat 29 març 2016.

Jaume Vidal Oliveras, "Hernández-Díez, líbranos de todo mal", El Cultural, El Mundo, 1 abril 2016.

Maria Palau, "Art, vida i mort", El Punt/AVUI, 7 abril 2016.

Roberta Bosco, "Arqueología contemporánea", El País (Catalunya),17 abril 2016.

Contenido relacionado:

Graphic communication of the exhibition 'José Antonio Hernández-Díez. I Will Fear No Evil' at MACBA

Exhibition announcement sent via email.

The invitation for the solo exhibition "I Will Fear No Evil" by José Antonio Hernández-Díez has been created by the Barcelona-Newark-Paris-San Francisco-New York graphic design studio Mucho, responsible for the visual communication of this and other exhibitions at MACBA

Departing from the religious and technological references included in Hernández-Díez's exhibition, the cross appears like a distorted televisual aparition.

The design was later applied on the large glass vitrine that frames the entrance to the Convent dels Àngels, respecting the presence of two video pieces also on display in this space: 'La caja' (1991) and 'Vas pa'l cielo y vas llorando' (1992), videoprojections that remain lit until midnight.
 
 (Above) Draft design and (following) tests on the windows, vinyls being applied and final look of the entrance to the exhibition space at Plaça dels Àngels.

 (Above) Façade by day and façade by night (below, photo by Miquel Coll, MACBA).
 Finally, a smaller vinyl is also applied at c/ dels Àngels, easily viewed when visitors come from c/ Elisabets.

Related Content:

The story behind José Antonio Hernández-Díez's 'San Guinefort' (1991)

 Pages with the story behind Plaça dels Àngels.

When giving a presentation or tour of an exhibition or project we have worked on, we are often asked how the project emerged – if there was a particular trigger or point of origin. In the case of José Antonio Hernández-Díezs exhibition currently on view at MACBA (until June 26, 2016), our approach was a familiar one to us we started by both delving in-depth in researching the artists previous works while at the same time looking into the history of the venue where the exhibition was going to take place. 

We are very fond of a book that has been in our library for many years – 'Histories and legends of Barcelona' by Joan Amades (Edicions 62). This two-volume tome gathers some of the myths behind Barcelona place names and includes the tales behind both familiar and obscure buildings, streets and monuments in the city. The story that most captivated us concerned the chapel of the Convent dels Àngels, and it is recounted in the essay we wrote to accompany the exhibition (published as the Quaderns Portàtils #32 pdfs available in Spanish and English and epub in Spanish only). It goes as follows:

(...) "Outside the doorway of the deconsecrated sixteenth-century church that formed part of Barcelona’s Convent dels Àngels there once stood the stone figure of a dog, standing upright on its hind legs. Two separate legends account for its existence, as recorded by ethnologist and folklorist Joan Amades in the 1950s. A boorish man would routinely interrupt the services and torment the church congregation, it is said. He was punished by being turned into a dog. The other version states that the canine figure commemorates the thwarting of a robbery. The church once displayed an image of Saint Roch, the patron saint of dogs, accompanied by a hound. It is said that the prospective thieves were frightened away as the image miraculously began to bark. (The supernatural mythology of the chapel does not cease there – in 1627 an image of Christ began to sweat blood profusely.) 

Sculpture of a dog once stood in front of La Capella dels Àngels, church of the Convent dels Àngels.
 
Parallel to this, we started looking at Hernández-Díezs earliest works and investigating his pieces in MACBAs collection. We found that the museum had his 1991 work San Guinefort on long-term loan in their collection, but it had never been exhibited. As narrated in our essay: 

(...) "that José Antonio Hernández-Díez (Caracas, Venezuela, 1964) had already been dealing with Catholic belief and superstition in his art – and moreover, specifically addressing canine veneration – is much more than an uncanny coincidence for his exhibition at MACBA’s Convent dels Àngels in 2016."  

The legend behind Saint Guinefort is one of the more obscure intersections of Catholic history and folk tradition:

(...) "Writing around 1260, the Inquisitor and Dominican friar Étienne de Bourbon related his investigation into the veneration of Saint Guinefort in the Dombes region of France. He discovered that this supposed Saint was, in fact, a dog. The account he disclosed was that a knight and his wife had one day left their greyhound Guinefort to guard their baby. When they returned to the castle they found the cradle empty and Guinefort covered in blood. Assuming it had murdered the baby, the knight hastily killed the dog, only later realising his error. Guinefort had in fact fought off a snake in order to save the child, who was found unharmed. Guinefort was buried unceremoniously in the forest outside the castle walls. Hearing of the martyred dog, local people began to believe in its power to protect children and began to bring their sick infants to the grave. Étienne de Bourbon was horrified to discover the strength of the superstition that had taken root. Children were being left overnight by Guinefort’s grave in the belief that he would rid them of spirits, and several babies had died as a consequence. Defending the orthodoxy of the church, the friar had the heretical remains of the greyhound dug up and destroyed, razed the forest and outlawed the canine cult, yet there is evidence of its persistence into the nineteenth century. The episode is worth recounting in detail, as previous accounts of it in relation to Hernández-Díez’s work have been misleading."


Coinciding with our research period, in August 2014 we happened to be travelling near Lyon, France, and took the opportunity to visit to the Bois de Saint Guinefort in the Dombes region, where the story of Saint Guinefort emerged (and where the dog-saint may still be venerated every 22nd August, despite the regional tourism office assuring us the festival day was no longer celebrated). 

Somewhere on the road between Villars-les-Dombes and Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne one can, with the help of a tagged flickr photo and GPS, find a sign, as seen below, which briefly narrates these peculiar events from the 13th Century



Related Content:

Public programmes related to the exhibition 'José Antonio Hernández-Díez. I Will Fear No Evil' at MACBA, Barcelona, on view until 26 June 2016

View of José Antonio Hernández-Díez's 'El resplandor de la Santa Conjunción aleja a los demonios" (1991). Installation. Lightbox, sampler, timer, flash, tripod and speakers. Collection Leonora and Jimmy Belilty. Photo: Miquel Coll, MACBA.


The exhibition I will fear no evil presents works from the beginning of José Antonio Hernández-Díez’s career in the late 1980s and early nineties – several of which have not been seen since they were first exhibited in 1991 – in dialogue with a new series produced especially for the occasion. 

The following series of events have been programmed to accompany the exhibition:

Thursday, 31 March, 7pm:
Visit with the artist and Latitudes. Exclusive to the Amic card. Limited places.

#MACBAAmic

Saturday 2 April, 7pm:
Experience MACBA, The secrets of conservation in ‘I will fear no evil’ by José Antonio Hernández-Díez. Visit with the artist, Latitudes and Lluís Roqué
Museum galleries.
5 €. No booking required. Limited places. 

#MACBAesviu


View of Hernández-Díez's exhibition "I will fear no evil". Photo: Miquel Coll, MACBA.

Film programme: 
Shadows and silences or the ghosts that return as if for the first time”. Curated by Andrés Duque.
Meier Auditorium. 
Admission: 5 €/session. Free with MACBA Amics card. Limited places.

Wednesday 4 May, 7pm
‘Schastye (Happiness)’, Aleksandr Medvedkin, 1935, Russia, 95 min, b/w, silent.
Despite being released in 1935, this is a silent movie. It narrates the hapless misadventures of a peasant unable to reap a good harvest. It takes a courageous act to reconcile himself with himself and other people.

Wednesday 18 May, 7pm
‘Finis Terrae’, Jean Epstein, 1929, France, 80 min, b/w, silent.
Four labourers leave for the island of Bannec to collect the harvest. One loses his hand and the wound becomes infected, so cannot work anymore.

Wednesday 15 June, 7pm
‘He Who Gets Slapped’, Victor Sjöström, 1924, USA, 83 min, b/w, silent.
After many years of research, Paul Beaumont, a scientist and humanist, discovers a revolutionary theory, but his patron (Marc McDermott) seduces his wife (Ruth King) and takes credit for his discoveries. To add insult to injury, he slaps Beaumont before the assembled scientific community, compounding his humiliation. Ashamed, Beaumont flees and takes refuge in a circus, where he becomes a famous clown known as ‘he who gets slapped’. As fate would have it, one night his perfidious patron appears in the audience, having abandoned Beaumont’s wife and intent on marrying the beautiful Consuelo (Norma Shearer).

Wednesday 22 June, 7pm
‘Kurutta Ippēji (A Page of Madness)’, Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926, Japan, 70 min, b/w, silent.
Kurutta Ippēji tells the story of a worker in a psychiatric hospital who begins to feel a strange affection for a patient, who was allegedly committed after murdering her own baby. But he only wants to release her, to escape with her and start a new family. The film went missing for over fifty years and was barely seen after its release. It was the director himself who discovered the negative and a copy in his archive store in 1971.

Saturday 25 June, 7pm:
Nieve Fuga: music around 'I will fear no evil'
Exhibition galleries.
5 €. Free with museum ticket and with MACBA Amics cards. Limited places. Ticket includes free admission to current exhibitions until 9 pm.

#MACBAesviu

View of Hernández-Díez's exhibition "I will fear no evil". Photo: Miquel Coll, MACBA.


 Related Content:

Cover Story, March 2016: José Antonio Hernández-Díez: The sacred heart of the matter

March 2016 cover story. This and previous stories are archived here.

The March 2016 cover story marks the twelve of the series. This section published monthly on our home page, focuses on an artwork or moment related to our past, current or future practice – "close ups" of what we do, see and are thinking about. (When the next Cover Story is published, the March one will be archived here.)

'José Antonio Hernández-Díez. I will fear no evil' opens at MACBA’s Convent dels Àngels on 18 March 2016 (and runs until 26 June). Guest curated by Latitudes, the exhibition focuses on the Barcelona-based Venezuelan artist’s first experimental works from the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

The presence of ghosts and bodily organs in this phase of José Antonio’s out-of-joint art – videographic spectres, disembodied voices, preserved creatures, hearts and skin – is only enhanced by the somewhat necromantic aspect of the fact that several of his works are being reconstructed. Dealing with the symbology and spiritual practices of Catholicism, 'Sagrado Corazón Activo' (Active Sacred Heart, 1991) is one of the pieces which will be brought back to life. In a workshop in Barcelona’s Gràcia, sculptor Fernando Romeo is making its heart. Continue reading...


Related Content:

Curators: 'I Will Fear No Evil', José Antonio Hernández-Díez, Convent dels Àngels del Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), 18 March–26 June 2016

José Antonio Hernández-Díez, "La Hermandad", 1994. Video installation. ”la Caixa” / MACBA Collection.

Latitudes is curating the solo exhibition 'I will fear no evil' of Venezuelan-born Barcelona-based artist José Antonio Hernández-Díez (Caracas, 1964), which will open at the Convent dels Àngels del Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), on March 17.
 
'I will fear no evil' presents works from the beginning of Hernández-Díez’s career in the late 1980s and early nineties – several of which have not been seen since they were first exhibited – in dialogue with Filamentos (2016), a new series developed especially for the occasion.

José Antonio Hernández-Díez, "La Hermandad", 1994. Video installation. ”la Caixa” / MACBA Collection.

The present exhibition looks back to Hernández-Díez’s first experimental works with video alongside early iconic screen- and vitrine-based works, including three of those presented at the time of his landmark first monographic exhibition 'San Guinefort y otras devociones', held in 1991 at Sala RG in Caracas. This exhibition heralded what the artist termed as a ‘New Christian Iconography’, offering – as artist-colleague Meyer Vaisman described – ‘a techno-pop view of Catholicism’s most beloved symbols’. 

An newly text by Latitudes will be published in Spanish as No. 32 of the Quaderns portàtils (Portable Notebooks) series. This MACBA-produced collection is freely distributed and downloadable from the museum website in PDF and ePUB format. An English translation will also be available as a separate PDF.

Exhibition runs between 18 March–26 June 2016 and is organised and produced by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

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

Latitudes | www.LTTDS.org (except when otherwise noted).

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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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Latitudes
2005—2019