Longitudes

Text on the film programme 'Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008', Art&Co #5 (Winter 2009)

Coinciding with the conclusion of the screenings of the film programme 'A Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008' last October, Latitudes was asked to write a text on the films for Art&Co, which has just been published in their Winter 09 issue num. 5 – see pages above (click on the image to zoom in the text). 



Following an excerpt of the original text (which totals over 2,000 words):

"(...) Latitudes developed the film programme 'A Stake in the Mud, A Hole in the Reel: Land Art’s Expanded Field, 1968–2008' at the invitation of the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. Premiering there in April 2008 as part of the Tamayo’s 'Panorámica' series, 'A Stake in the Mud...' has since toured to several venues throughout Europe within an auditorium-based screening format, presenting historical works alongside those produced in the last six years.

What were the possibilities for augmenting preordained definitions of so-called Land Art through relation with contemporary practices, and social and environmental ecologies? Though the cycle had its germination in our work on a publication – 'Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook' (2006) – the dimension of film clearly proposed additional sets of concerns. The title of the programme was drawn from words of Robert Smithson in which he speculates on the site and film of perhaps the most renowned – and certainly most photogenic – of the works associated with Land Art, 'Spiral Jetty' (1970). It attempts to surmise the programme’s dual concern with sheer materiality and physical processes together with the lacunae of filmic representation. Where artists’ use of film or video might appear as a solution to the problem of how to represent something that would otherwise be inaccessible (an intervention in a remote area, for example) or otherwise ephemeral, it apparently creates another – what, or where, does the artwork consist of? Accordingly, what is the status of each film: informal artifact, ‘making of’ movie, documentary, autonomous fiction or something else?
(...)Accordingly, the programme enhanced several ‘Smithsonian’ dialogues across time, but rarely was the magnetism openly declared or intentional. Included in part two of the programme, 'Zênite invertido/Inverted Zenith' (2005) by Brazilian-artist Thiago Rocha Pitta portrayed a mesmerising vortex of water in a metal vessel which slowly diminishes in volume before a steady resurgence. The work supports a tacit mythical connection to Spiral Jetty and its own narratives of mirroring and reversal, but also to the cosmic whirlpools evoked in Edgar Allan Poe’s tale ‘A Descent into the Maelström’. A concern with remoteness, together with the powerful allure of specific sites, threaded throughout the cycle. The itinerary took in the sewers of New York City and Vienna (through works by Gordon Matta-Clark and Hans Schabus), the deserts of the US (Mario Garcia Torres or Walter De Maria), high mountain zones (Ibon Aranberri, Maria Thereza Alves), as well as the paradisiac beaches of Taveuni (Nikolaj Recke), for example. Territorial sculptural acts (Barry Flanagan or Walter de Maria, for example) were encountered, as well as displacements more legible as social or political actions (in the work by Francis Alÿs). Absurd gestures (Damián Ortega) met touristic views of natural phenomena (Nancy Holt & Smithson) while perspectival experiments (Jan Dibbets) greeted ecological remarks (Donna Conlon)."'Mono Lake' (1968/2004) by Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt is one of
the films included in the first part of the programme which we just learned was acquired in 2007 by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. Here an acquisition entry on the piece (in Spanish).Full article available for download from Latitudes' writing archive here.
Further documentation such as hand programmes, press reviews, adverts, etc. here; Photodocumentation of the screenings here.


Art&Co is a bilingual Spanish/English quarterly magazine published by the Asociación Amigos de ARCO
.Editorial Director: Ángela Molina

Contact: [email protected] or (+34) 917 225 102
More info
: http://www.arco.ifema.es (see under 'Publications')

Gustav Metzger's RAF / Reduce Art Flights campaign initiative changes URL to www.reduceartflights.lttds.org


The website established for RAF / Reduce Art Flights in conjunction with the Latitudes-curated group exhibition 'Greenwashing. Environment: Perils, Promises and Perplexities' can now be found at a sub-domain of our site www.reduceartflights.lttds.org. The previous URL (reduceartflights.com) is no longer in operation.

The content is the same however, the main feature being a 12 minute interview with Gustav Metzger, initiator of the campaign, conducted by Emma Ridgway (now curator at RSA Arts & Ecology) as well the catalogue entry text by Max Andrews of Latitudes.



Page of the exhibition catalogue. Purchase the book via Motto.

Fischli & Weiss premiere their new film 'Parts of a Film with a Rat and a Bear' at the Teatro Arsenale, Milan


As enthusiasts of Peter Fischli & David Weiss' peerless work, we are excited to hear about their upcoming film premiere in Milan: 'Parts of a Film with a Rat and a Bear' (2008). The piece, produced by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, was filmed in the same venue, the spectacular 17th Century Palazzo Litta, that hosted the Trussardi's leg of the artists' survey show 'Flowers & Questions' last February.

In the first two films of their famed 'rat and bear' saga ('The Point of Least Resistance' (1981) & 'The Right Way' (1983)) the artists explore exhibitions, Los Angeles' streets, or the bucolic mountains, dark forests and treacherous ravines of the Swiss Alps, wearing costumes of a giant bear and a rat. With no real aim in mind, the bear and the rat bungle along in folk tales of their own devising – these films are both monumental and intimate, serious and hilarious.



In the new 3-screen film 'Parts of a Film with a Rat and a Bear' (2008), the animals "return to cubhood and wander through the stuccoed, frescoed halls of Palazzo Litta, playing with the bizarre sculptures and peculiar images that inhabit them. Through constant flashbacks and visions of the future, the two look at their own reflected images, encounter themselves in old age, and play with their ancestors in youth, in a constant reversal of roles that seems inspired as much by '2001: A Space Odyssey' as by Grimms’ fairy tales." [1]

Premiere of 'Parts of a Film with a Rat and a Bear' by Peter Fischli & David Weiss

16 February 2009, 6.30pm
Teatro Arsenale
Via Cesare Correnti, 11 / Milan, Italy
Open daily 10 am to 8 pm, from 16 to 22 February 2009
Free admission

Clips from 'The Right Way' and 'The Point of Least Resistance' below:




[1] As described in the Press Release (link here)

Images: Peter Fischli / David Weiss, 'Parts of a Film with a Rat and a Bear', 2008
Video stills - 3 HDV-Videos
Produced by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan
© The Artists. Courtesy Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Monika Sprüth & Philomene Magers, Berlin/London; Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Juan Muñoz's 1992 'Una Habitació on sempre plou' under construction


Over 16 years after its inauguration and after years of poor maintenance and neglect, 'Una habitació on sempre plou' (A room where it always rains), (1992) by Juan Muñoz (1952-2001) and its surroundings are finally under renovation. It seems that the construction of a luxury sailboat-shaped hotel nearby (coincidentally looking very much like Dubai's iconic Burj-Al-Arab) might have helped the Ajuntament to get their act together and rethink the environment the piece needs – hopefully this will improve the displacement and elevation it suffered in 2004 due to the construction of a parking lot.

'A room where it always rains' (1992) is one of the public works that emerged from the 'beautification' of the city post-1992 Olympic Games. The piece is placed in the Passeig Marítim [map] near the beach, and was part of the 'Urban Configurations' commissions led by Glòria Moure.

Update March 2010:


[All photos by Latitudes | www.lttds.org ]

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.

Redesigned website home page


We have recently redesigned the home page of our web with some photo galleries and quick links to our projects. We have also introduced an index – a useful tool to navigate our current, previous and future projects through an ongoing list of collaborators (artists, curators, institutions, writers, etc).

News and updates on www.lttds.org/blog

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