Looking back at the past year is a infectious exercise at this point in the calendar. We would like to thank everyone that has visited or taken part in our projects, from the small ones to the 3 year-long collaborations, whether from nearby or far away.
In November, as part of Artissima 15 Latitudes presented 'X, Y, etc!', a video programme comprised of around 40 works that was inspired by Charles Fort's research methodology, the paranormal and anomalous phenomena, the uncanny and the unexplained.
And now looking a little towards what's to come in 2009 ... since May 2008 (see previous posts here and here) we have been working on 'Portscapes', a series of artists’ projects that will take place throughout 2009 alongside the construction of ‘Maasvlakte 2’, a 1,000 hectare area of reclaimed land that will extend the Port of Rotterdam, Europe's largest seaport and industrial area. Mirroring a port's function of transit and exchange 'Portscapes' will involve Rotterdam-based artists and those from countries including China, Austria, Mexico, Scotland and the US, with the aim of considering the physical and conceptual implications of the new lands of Maasvlakte 2, as well as the city-port as a distributive network across artistic, marine and mercantile registers. 'Portscapes' will be introduced during Art Rotterdam (5–8 February 2009) by a small ‘prologue’ publication designed by Ben Laloua / Didier Pascal.
Throughout 2008 we have also contributed several catalogue essays, articles, exhibition reviews, artists profiles, etc. a selection of which can be downloaded from our writing archive.
Haegue Yang's new exhibition at sala rekalde 'Symmetric Inequality' (18.12.08-19.04.09) "belongs to a group of installations the artist has been developing over the course of this year, focusing her interest on investigating new possibilities for parallel crossings between abstraction and narration. Together with Kunstverein (Hamburg), Cubitt (London), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), Portikus (Frankfurt) and REDCAT (Los Angeles), sala rekalde now contributes to the closure of a serial project that has taken the medium of portraiture as the point of departure for its own articulation." (from e-flux 18.12.08). Below an excerpt from the catalogue essay by Latitudes' Max Andrews "Towards Haegue Yang's 'Blind Rooms'", which will be included in the forthcoming publication (out Spring 2009) followed by a video of the installation:
"Yang has developed a finely-tuned articulation of space through deft assemblage that has encompassed mirrors, multifarious electric lamps, scent atomizers, infrared motion detectors, heat sources and Venetian blinds. Variously sensory and sensible (i.e. readily percieved), such devices are not necessarily socially meaningful in themselves, yet they allow an interactive atmospherics that suggest zones of indeterminate necessities – part domestic interiors, part private theatres – and “localized effects” akin to political action." As the Arts Council Korea announced on the 23 December Eungie Joo, Director & Curator of Public Programs at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, recently appointed commissioner of the Korea Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale has invited Yang to represent Korea at the 53rd International Venice Biennale. Joo is the first non-Korean national commissioner for the Korean Pavilion.
This past Wednesday 17 December saw the opening of three compelling exhibitions in Barcelona. Erick Beltrán's "Calculum Series" was a precise suite of objects and texts (including Rasputin's finger nails and a bone die) which circulated around a consideration of value. The show continues at Galería Joan Prats until late January 2009. Nati Bermejo presented an exquisite set of large scale black-and-white drawings at Estrany de la Mota ("Look Left / Look Right" continues until February 12th 2009). Meanwhile at ProjecteSD, Peter Piller showed "Swiss Landscapes" – photographs gleaned from over 500,000 images taken for insurance claims purposes from the digital archives of the Swiss insurers Bâloise.
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.
"From Excess. Recipes for an architecture of accumulative thought" is the title of Jordi Mitjà's contribution to the group show In construction. Recipes from Scarcity, Ubiquity and Excess, the inaugural show – in two temporary spaces – of BÒLIT, the soon-to-open Centre d'Art Contemporani in Girona, Spain, directed by Rosa Pera. Mitjà's project comprises the installation Espai Diògenes (see images above; last two from Santiago Cirugeda's Niu project); the documentary cycle Diogenes Cinema and Anatomia Diògenes, a beautiful publication published by Crani (www.crani.org) that compiles photographic material accumulated in the Empordà region between 1988 and 2008. Mitjà's Espai Diògenes continues the investigative spirit of previous projects such as the film Concèntric. Poble petit, infern gegant (presented in 2006–7 at Espai Zero1, Olot) drawing on found documents, films from amateur film-makers, articles, books, notes, photographs, etc., that he has been gathering from abandoned sites, rubbish, or simply given by friends or family throughout the past years. Mitjà is as persuaded by these materials as he is curious to dissect the history and stories behind each found object. Espai Diògenes presents an esquisite selection of works (collages, slide projections, objects including slide projectors, photographs, films...) in a nest-like space, "a defence structure, a protection from the outside world, an infinite skin" (1) - "nests" recalling the claustrophobic spaces created by those that suffer from Diogenes syndrome. Capella de Sant Nicolau Plaça de Santa Llúcia s/n 17007 Girona Exhibition dates: 10 October 2008 - 11 January 2009
(1) 'Runa', by Jordi Mitjà. In "Anatomia Diògenes. Obres inèdites acumulades entre 1988-2008. Ed. Crani, October 2008.