Longitudes

Interview with Erick Beltrán & Jorge Satorre, 'Atlántica' magazine #52

Installation view of 'Modelling Standard' at Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona. Jorge Satorre and Erick Beltrán (Illustrations by Jorge Aviña), “Modelling Standard”, 2010. 58 photocopies pasted on the wall. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artists.

In the current issue of the 'Atlántica' magazine #52 (to be launched on 16 February at 4pm, at the Sala de Amigos, Hall 8, ARCOmadrid), there is an interview between Erick Beltrán, Jorge Satorre and Latitudes conducted in November 2011 during the installation week of the exhibition at Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona. Below an abstract of the 4,000 words on phantom limbs, microhistory, devil's drool, apophenia, collaboration, information systems, Sigmund Freud's dog Jo-Fi, collage, döppelgangers, Fantomas, mirror neurons, unorthodox research methods, validation...

– PART I –
Latitudes (L): Your exhibition at Galería Joan Prats in Barcelona is the latest instalment of your ModellingStandardproject, as well as being a group show which includes the work of other artists. [1] Where should we begin the story, where does it start for you?

Jorge Satorre (JS): At the core of Modelling Standardis our interest in the methodology proposed by Italian microhistory during the seventies as well as its precedents. Specifically, the essay of Carlo Ginzburg ‘Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm’, which was published in 1979, functioned as one of the main pillars of our project. In the text, he tried to explain a new way of making history in which there are three basic methods to follow: first, reducing scale; second, in-depth investigations of the few sources at hand; and third, exploitation of hints and traces – working like a detective. [2]Ginzburg supported his theory by alluding to the fathers of this paradigm: Sigmund Freud, Arthur Conan Doyle and Giovanni Morelli. These three people worked in very different fields, though they shared a medical background and operated in the manner of a detective: deciphering clues through symptoms and finding hidden meaning in details. From this trigger Erick and I started opening up a web of relations.

L: It is now a fascinatingly complex project which involves a whole host of characters and has evolved through an exhibition at FormContent in London in 2010, and a comic book which you produced for Casa Vecina in Mexico City earlier this year. Integral to the project are the amazing drawings of Jorge Aviña, who we’ll come onto specifically in a moment, which you commissioned as illustrations of certain concepts. But as Charles Fort said, ‘one measures a circle, beginning anywhere’... so, let’s pick one drawing and one character – Vilayanur Ramachandran?
Erick Beltrán and Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran. Courtesy the artist.

Erick Beltrán (EB):Ramachandran represents a really curious phenomena that gets further explored in the comic – the analyses of the phantom limb and mirror neurons. He found out that there are cells in the brain that possess a representative image of our body. If those cells are electrically stimulated, one starts to feel different parts of the body. Via Wilder Penfield’s understanding of the part of the brain called the cortical homunculus, neuroscientists concluded that this representation is distorted, it’s not to scale with how the body really is. Some parts have more sensory neurons than others, hence they appear bigger in the brain’s body image: for instance the hands of ‘Penfield’s homunculus’ are too big and the torso is way too small. 

L: What is the relation between the individual line drawings and the comic?

JS:For instance, the misperception Erick mentioned really became the centre of the comic, which is titled El Hallazgo del Miembro Fantasma (The Discovery of the Phantom Limb). The 58individual drawings were the first part of the project and are pasted on the wall like posters here in Barcelona as they were similarly in London. Their structure and relations are set out more like a draft. The comic is basically a story talking about the power of the images in which we incorporated some of the characters from the first part of the project. 

L: The comic format must have posed a different challenge; rather than jumping from drawing-to-drawing as with the talk-performances you have done during the openings of the projects, a narrative has to be set out and digested in a linear way?

EB:We made a sort of ‘game of shadows’ with the comic by encompassing the narrative and the visual part. A novel however is something we are going to do at some point.

JS:The whole project has also set out a new problem for us: we began with the analysis of microhistory, yet as we mentioned before, now we realise this has evolved into considering the power of images. All the characters somehow tackle this problem in one way or another, and with the comic we created a detective story where the characters are victims and perpetrators around a crime related to images.It has been a ping-pong of ideas between us, but we have also let chance be a part of the process. We have had to confront our decisions and integrate characters. Jorge Aviña is the illustrator who, as you said, has produced all the drawings for the project, and we realised that he had a lot to do with Fantomas, a fictional character in a Mexican comic series of the 1960s, based on the French character Fantômas. One of the writers of Fantomas, Gonzalo Martré, who is now 84, becomes the criminal in our comic and also is the cowriter of El Hallazgo del Miembro Fantasma.  

EB: By then we had realised we had gathered a sort of ‘dream team’ of what Fantomas could represent today. 

Jorge Satorre and Erick Beltrán (Illustrations by Jorge Aviña), “Modelling Standard”, 2010
58 photocopies pasted on the wall. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artists.


[1]  Modelling Standard, an exhibition organized by Jorge Satorre and Erick Beltrán. Also participating: Christoph Keller, Raphaël Zarka, Paloma Polo, Bernardo Ortiz, Efrén Álvarez, Meris Angioletti, Jose Antonio Vega Macotela, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Jorge Aviña and Florian Göttke. Galería Joan Prats, Barcelona, November–December 2011.
[2]  Carlo Ginzburg, ‘Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm’, in Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method , translated by John Tedeschi and Anne C. Tedeschi (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), p. 102. The Italian edition is ‘Spie: Radici di un paradigma indizario’, in Aldo Gargani and Carlo Ginzburg, Crisi della ragione. (Einaudi, 1979).

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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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