Photos: Eva Carasol, Miquel Coll, Roberto Ruiz.

Panorama 21. Apunts per a un incendi dels ulls (Notes for an Eye Fire)

Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, 22 October 2021–27 February 2022

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With the participation of: Ana Domínguez, El Palomar (Mariokissme y R. Marcos Mota), Laia Estruch, Arash Fayez, Antoni Hervàs, Rasmus Nilausen, nyamnyam (Ariadna Rodríguez & Iñaki Álvarez) with Pedro Pineda, Claudia Pagès, Aleix Plademunt, Marria Pratts, Stella Rahola Matutes, Eulàlia Rovira, Ruta de autor (Aymara Arreaza R. & Lorena Bou Linhares), Adrian Schindler, Rosa Tharrats, Gabriel Ventura and Marc Vives.

In 2021 the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) initiated a new multidisciplinary triennial programme entitled Panorama, focusing on contemporary art practices in and around Barcelona. With an emphasis on collaborative practices, each edition will be led by a different curatorial collaboration, composed of a member of the museum and an external curator or agent.

Panorama’s first edition is titled ‘Notes for an Eye Fire’ and is curated by Hiuwai Chu (Head of Exhibitions, MACBA) and Latitudes, and coordinated by Berta Cervantes. As the “notes” of the title suggests, this group exhibition attempts to jot down, to lay out and to connect without seeking to be in any way definitive.

Occupying the entire top floor of the Meier building, ‘Notes for an Eye Fire’ brings together specially commissioned works and recent productions being shown in Barcelona for the first time. It comprises a wide range of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, video installation, performance, photography and textiles, and is driven by a desire to defend and verify the making of on-site exhibitions as experiences that envelop us as whole sensing bodies in space.

The works in the exhibition weave together concerns and leitmotifs that have emerged from the curators’ studio visits and conversations with the art community, including the city’s self-image, notions of reparation and belonging, gender dissidence and our relationship with nonhuman life.

The exhibition title, from the homonymous 2020 book of poetry by Gabriel Ventura, conjures up a powerful metaphor that provokes a questioning of the dominance of vision, urging us to explore an expanded definition of seeing that engages our other senses and entails new ways of navigating the world, of remembering and of producing knowledge.

The ocular form takes on a life of its own in the exhibition’s imagination, in the form of projects that explore theatre or performance, the spatial relationship between stage and auditorium and the loop as narrative. Such perspectives and scales also encircle how the museum establishes a connection with its neighbourhood, and vice versa, at a time when perhaps we are all questioning and seeing afresh what our own place in the world might be.

The publication “Passió i cartografia per a un incendi dels ulls” [Passion and cartography for an eye fire] is the poetic colophon of the exhibition, and includes a new three-part poem–dérive by Gabriel Ventura that decomposes the exhibition’s plurality of voices into a textual topography. As part of the exhibition’s public programme, on January 13, 2022, Ventura and the flamenco singer Pere Martínez recited and sang the verses during a performative guided tour that took visitors through the museum galleries. Designed by Ana Domínguez Studio, the book also features photo-documentation of the works in the exhibition, as well as a ghostly evocation of its graphic identity—translucent pages that seem to veil the images and words with billowing smoke clouds and flashes of energy.

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