22 jan – 5 JUN 2011
oPEnING: 21 JAN 2011
ORGANIZED BY CA2M CENTRO DE ARTE DOS DE MAYO
The current selection of works on display from the CA2M Collection is launched at the same time than the public presentation of its detailed catalogue, which can also be consulted in the exhibition rooms.The first and third floor of the Centre, as well as other common spaces, are allocated to this exhibition. It is an heterogeneous compilation of techniques and topics. Amongst the pieces of the show, we can identify paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs and installations as well as a wide range of video works. Some of them date back to the origin of the Collection in the 1980s, others are recent acquisitions, which have been included in the last years. This diversity allows us to address some of the issues repeatedly raised by contemporaneous culture and especially current art.
Presenting the Collection simultaneously with the catalogue enables us to reflect on the action of collecting, the reasons hidden behind a series of works aspiring to be a testimony to its time. A collection is many things at the same time. It is, above all, a way to construct a vision of the world, a manner of creating a plot based on the meanings of all the works and all the lines, more or less visible, which connect them. As a set of works, it is a narration consolidated on references going beyond the objects conserved in their warehouses. It is a constant struggle with the concept of value, so popular in our society. It is also a place where to choose. It is not an archive that can include everything but a selection, one of many, that can’t aspire to represent or explain the totality of art. A great amount of pieces bring up considerations about art itself and how it triggers self-scrutiny and political challenge. What is the role of art in a world overrun with images? What sense does it have to work with art in this particular moment? What strategies can artists follow to keep on examining the meaning and validity of art? Santiago Sierra documents an action: blocking an avenue of Mexico City with a big articulated truck.
A simple action properly adapted to the artistic vocabulary by means of a great diptych with a black and white image. Sierra does not transgress any social rule through his actions, he takes a system to an extreme to show how it challenges itself. Daniel Canogar’s strategy, consisting in reusing materials discarded by a society in need of a constant change, formulates new questions to an art that does not need to create new images because it only needs to select the ones that already exist.
Following the same line, Dias & Riedweg propose a complex visual exercise: their artwork consists in a photographic documentation of how a suitcase in placed (a direct reference to Marcel Duchamp who condensed all of his work in one valise) on a shelf packed with luggage. Thus, they emphasize the difficulty of separating what is art from what isn’t and they present a poetic reflection on journeys, changes and migrations. With a piece deployed in all the building, Ignasi Aballí designs a precious metaphor of art and weeds, which persist to grow in any cavity whatever are the circumstances. Relation with the public is one of the habitual issues of this selection.
Dora García’s video work, created for the 2008 Sydney Biennale, features an unfinished performance of the great American comedian Lenny Bruce, brutally censored in that town in 1962. One of the multiple keys of this work is the change of attitude of the audience, laughing while seeing something which had been prohibited only forty years before. David Bestué and Marc Vives’s big installation occupy the totality of the old building on the CA2M first floor. It proposes to the viewer to do the same path as the protagonist of the video in order to reach confirmation: a symbol of the evolution of any person and probably of the artists themselves. Ultimately, they suggest to dance on the rhythm of a pop music song whose lyrics remind us to dance without solid ground, without confirmation.
Some of the works displayed reflect the reality of a changing world, submitted to dramatic breaks through the last decades. Many images represent falls, breaks or dissolutions. Some of them are real objects and their destruction remains printed in our eyes, like the World Trade Center’s collapse in New York as showed by Thomas Ruff using a press image. Fernando Sánchez Castillo explores a similar strategy recreating several monuments of Madrid as they were during the Civil War. The Government of the Republic protected them building other constructions intended to hide them in a metaphor of the situation of the besieged capital. Other works show the end of ideologies witnessed by a whole generation of Europeans: the representation of the dramatic changes of David Maljkovic’s native Croatia which occurred with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the observation of unachieved plans like the shattered dream of Latin America’s model showed by Alexander Apóstol in his video.
Similarly, El Perro, a collective from Madrid, takes us to the former prison of Carabanchel –a district of Madrid– which represents a bitter memory for political and social prisoners of Franco’s regime. We can see how a group of young people is skateboarding in it recalling the American soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s pool in an attempt to attest the end of an empire. Mateo Maté reflects on the contradictions of nationalisms in a time of identities’ crisis. At the same time, David Goldblatt draw post-apartheid South Africa closer through the presentation of stern portraits of city councilors, which can be interpreted in multiple ways. Ultimately, we face a vision of the world in constant mutation —a world in which absolute truth does not exist, a world fully aware that History is being written at any time according to the actions and decisions of the whole community and its representatives.
About the Collection
The Collection of the CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo of the Regional Government of Madrid includes close to 1,500 works. It’s a constantly growing testimony of the evolution of art from the 1980s to the present. The Collection devotes its attention to Madrid and Spain, by acquiring works which follow the evolution of its artists, galleries and exhibitions. It focuses on photographs and paper format works, though every kind of medium is represented.
Ignasi Aballí, Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Lara Almárcegui, Alexander Apóstol, Txomin Badiola, José Manuel Ballester, Antonio Ballester Moreno, Guy Ben-Ner, Karmelo Bermejo, Darya Von Berner, Bestué/Vives, Cabello/Carceller, Daniel Canogar, Dias & Riedweg, Elmgreen & Draagset, Patricia Esquivias, Gunther Förg, Philip Fröhlich, Dora García, Alberto García-Alix, David Goldblatt, Cándida Höfer, Pello Irazu, Joachim Koester, Annika Larsson, Cristina Lucas, David Maljkovik, Teresa Margolles, Mateo Maté, Antoni Miralda, Vik Muniz, Juan Muñoz, El Perro, Sergio Prego, MP & MP Rosado, Thomas Ruff, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Santiago Sierra, Carolina Silva, Juan Ugalde and Darío Urzay.
The current selection of works on display from the CA2M Collection is launched at the same time than the public presentation of its detailed catalogue, which can also be consulted in the exhibition rooms.
Texts : Mariano Navarro and Ferran Barenblit. Cards preparation: Francisco Carpio, Jose Manuel Costa, Kristian Leahy, Alberto Martín, Mariano Mayer, José María Parreño, Abel Pozuelo, Andrés Isaac Santana, Virginia Torrente and Elena Vozmediano.
EXPERIMENTAL STATION. RESEARCH AND ARTISTIC PHENOMENA
OPENING 13 MAY
14 MAY – 9 OCT 2011
CURATORS ANDRÉS MENGS AND VIRGINIA TORRENTE
ORGANIZED BY CA2M CENTRO DE ARTE DOS DE MAYO AND LABORAL CENTRO DE ARTE Y CREACIÓN INDUSTRIAL
Experimental station is an exhibition that presents works originated by an irrepressible urge which connects the artists to the purest part of scientific research. Departing from contemporary art pre-established guidelines, these creators share a certain fascination for extra-artistic themes, for what happens in the field of reality but also in the hereafter.
Formal research, pseudo-science, science fiction and paranormal phenomena are the experimental domains in which they are focused and through which they materialize their work. These creators do not give up on their capacity to investigate which can outgrow the limits of artistic creation in its contemporary meaning. This research in parallel areas that embraces from reality to lie is extremely interesting and is circumscribed to a marginal circle because of its own difficult location. An artist interested in cutting-edge technology applying it to its work for an aesthetic outcome is not the same as another one involved in a research where experiment is the piece per se and thanks to this research, the artist’s study becomes a lab and a trial, error and results field.
Both artistic and scientific devices lead us to places of change and discovery, whether it is with a real or imaginary purpose. We are referring to creation as a location for experimentation, and in this respect, science and art share a common aspiration: to conduct experiments that question our current knowledge, to look for a new frontier.
Science and art also share a common poetry: where do they meet and where do you they move apart from each other? Ethics and aesthetics are concepts that divide and unite them—a convergence point that invites both the artist and the scientist to think and reflect. One works in a brilliant space of observation, supported by knowledge and thorough procedures, in order to get and gather data. The other one gets in this restricted area through a parallel entrance.
Throughout history, a large amount of ideas investigated have led to breakthroughs but also to impasses. Utopias and failures, a commonplace of art and science.
In the laboratory
Luis Bisbe, Carlos Bunga, Caleb Charland, Alistair McClymont, Rubén Ramos Balsa and Ben Woodeson.
Alberto Baraya, Faivovich & Goldberg, João Gusmão & Pedro Paíva, Ilana Halperin, Rivane Neuenschwander & Cao Guimãraes and Jorge Peris.
Artefacts and Mechanisms
Julio Adán, Guillem Bayo, Ingrid Buchwald, Milton Marques, O Grivo, Ariel Schlesinger, Conrad Shawcross and Alberto Tadiello.
Lost in space
David Clarkson, Björn Dahlem, Karlos Gil, Lyn Hagan, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Esther Mañas & Arash Moori, Paloma Polo, Jan Tichy and Raphaël Zarka.
With the collaboration
OCT 28 – ABR 9
wilfredo prieto. TIED UP TO THE TABLE LEG
2 feb – 24 aPr 2011
opening: 1 feb 2011
CURATOR Ferran Barenblit
ORGANIZED BY CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo
Tied Up to the Table Leg is the title of Wilfredo Prieto's exhibition at the CA2M. This monographic exhibition, the first a Spanish museum ever dedicated to this young Cuban artist, presents a great number of his recent works in addition to some pieces created especially for the exhibition. This is the first time that such a large number of Wilfredo Prieto’s works have been brought together in a single exhibition. The exhibition includes installations, sculptures, objects, interventions, performances and drawings. A formal plurality resulting in a morphological freedom in the artist’s production which uses these media as ancillary tools to express different concepts.His works can thus be highly ambitious in technical and material terms, almost impossible to execute, or made with simple everyday materials. Tied Up to the Table Leg is also one of the works of the exhibition: a performance consisting in a helicopter standing still over the roof of the museum during one hour. A rope has been hung from it and, after going down the floors by the stairs, it has been tied up to the leg of a table located on the ground floor.After the performance of this action, it is still possible to see the table, the rope and a video showing what happened.
This piece introduces some of the elements present in all the works included in the exhibition: conceptual force, narrative brevity, lack of superfluous elements, persistent references to artistic praxis itself, a delicate sense of humour, semantic games that come full circle, and a poetics consisting of persistence and subtlety in equal measure. Ultimately, his work consists of drawing the straightest line from the original idea to its formal materialisation.
The exhibition creates its own narrative through several pieces that, contrasting with their apparent everyday nature, are carefully produced. Some of them are extremely ephemeral, like the puddle of different liquids. Others are a challenge to many of the concepts commonly accepted in contemporary art by questioning some of the things assumed as normal. They all seek to find a minimal gesture with meaning, providing it with both poetry and critical sense. Reading the descriptive plaques reveals how in many cases the title, materials and formalisation are virtually identical like in the cases of the puddles: Café con leche [Coffee with Cream] consists of coffee with cream, Cuba libre is a rum-and-coke… The literality merely draws our attention to the hidden pitfalls of language. It amplifies the limitations of words by depicting exactly what they describe. In a seemingly offhand way, Wilfredo Prieto tackles profound themes which often revolve around the relationship between art and life.
At times he plays with the famous saying which states that the ends justify the means. Some of his works generate a tension between the resources invested and the aims achieved: an enormous effort for a minimal result. Far from aiming to challenge the pragmatism of contemporary society, Prieto uses this method to highlight the process and the intrinsic value of the work involved in making art. The magnolia tree located in the CA2M entry hall is a good example of this, although it also offers an ironic reflection on itself: an even larger space would have been necessary to hold that tree. This piece clearly contrasts with others which are the result of a gesture that is much easier to materialise. Thus, the larger works emphasise the near invisibility of the smaller ones, while the latter make the former seem even larger than they truly are.
It is difficult to explain the precision and meticulous care with which this artist works. His oeuvre is the result of a scrupulous dedication which helps him weigh all of the formal and conceptual aspects and rid his creations of any redundant element. Some of the pieces included in the exhibition required the use of complex technology which aims to achieve an unexpected result; in fact, a few were so ambitious that we were unable to find the technology needed to produce them. Moreover, Wilfredo Prieto evidences a constant and enduring interest in art history, particularly that of the most recent era, which is often revealed in subtle references. Latin American Post-Minimalism, the experiences of Cildo Meireles and the sensibility of Felix González Torres are tenuously present throughout his entire oeuvre.
Perhaps one of Wilfredo Prieto’s cleverest tactics is his apparent invisibility in the relationship between artwork and spectator. This exaggerated discretion makes his hand (in this case, conceptual) difficult to recognise. As the artist himself often says, “ideas are in the real world, just like clouds. You see them and you can take them.” In a way, Prieto reminds us that anyone could have done what he did. Perhaps it is for this reason that what is seen and what the artist has deliberately left unseen takes on such importance. With all this, the artist aims to achieve an intentional neutrality, leaving each of the works open to multiple readings. That wide margin he leaves is a space of incredible richness, and this is what makes art a colossal and indispensable human activity.
His works show an intention of keeping away from social or political interpretations. They are full of references to his native island, to the routine experiences of its inhabitants. However, there is no explicit determination to extract critical conclusions. Perhaps it is that insistence, that deliberate “apolitical” status, which gives his work true political meaning.
In the text included in the exhibition catalogue, the Cuban art critic Gerardo Mosquera, who followed his work since the beginning, thus points out: “In conclusion and following the artist’s own impulse for synthesis, if I were to summarize Prieto’s work in a single formula, it would be net idea + simple work=maximum meaning. But, as in the work of Gabriel Orozco, there is always a visual sensibility in action. Sharp, mordant, and at the same time warm and understanding, Wilfredo Prieto specializes in summarizing the most complex issues with an illuminating stroke”.
About the artist
Wilfredo Prieto was born in Sancti Spiritus in the centre of Cuba in 1978. He graduated at the Instituto Sperior de Arte of Havana in 2002. As an early-career artist, his work achieved notoriety since his first participation in the Havana Biennial in 2001 with the piece Apolitical, which is the reproduction of a set of about thirty black and white flags from different countries. Since then, he exhibited in many museum (Smak, Ghent; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Castello di Rivoli, Turin) and biennales (Singapore, 2005; Venice, 2007; Jafre, 2009; São Paulo, 2010). He lives in Havana and Barcelona. Tied Up to the Table Leg is the first time that the artist is working in an exhibition with such a number of his works, proposing a new dialogue with the viewers.
Sat 12:30 h / Sun 18:30 h.
Meet the Artist: Wilfredo Prieto 31 Mar. 18:30 h.
Tour & Talk of the Exhibition 15 Feb 18:30 h.
Workshop with Wilfredo Prieto 31 Mar — 1 Apr.
In collaboration with
SONIC YOUTH etc. : SENSATIONAL FIX
3 FEB – 2 MAY 2010
FOLD ALONG THE LINE
16 DEC 2009 – 28 FEB 2010
CURATOR RUTH ESTÉVEZ
ORGANISED BY THE CA2M CENTRO DE ARTE DOS DE MAYO AND THE MUSEO DE ARTE CARRILLO GIL (MEXICO)
IN COLLABORATION WITH CASA SEFARAD ISRAEL
GUIDED TOURS SAT 12.30 PM AND SUN 6.30 PM
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Guy Ben-Ner (Israel, 1969) has used as his working methodology films in which he and his family are the protagonists.
His works pose a continual negotiation between the personal and relations with others, establishing a permanent dialogue between the two. The artist explores social conventions and archetypes, thus turning his intimate stories into situations that the spectator can identify with.
Many of his videos are inspired by screenplays for films, folk tales and novels. Analysing these literary and cinematographic passages allows him to exploit the conventions of film narrative: how to tell a story, captivate an audience through a tale, sustain a degree of tension and entertainment, and so on. At the same time, he corrupts the magic of fiction by openly showing us the entrails of everything he records, without worrying about revealing the tricks of the trade. The setting for many of his works is the apartment where he lives with his family, coarsely modified to lend his films a low-tech aesthetic. For Guy Ben-Ner, private life is regulated by external narratives that prevail over free choice and authorship. What does it mean when you discover fictions with a parallel existence in real life? Are we passive readers of our own lives?
By interchanging the roles of actor and director, the improbability of the scenes blends with the real relationships between the characters, beyond the film set. And although they appear to follow a specific script, the questions posed during the process are ongoing, as if they were never sure of how it all ends.
The show at the CA2M includes an early series of videos recorded between 2002 and 2005, all with the common theme of the paternal figure within the family and all of which extrapolate the situation to any other figure that tries to conform to a group. House Hold (2001), inspired by Robert Bresson’s film A Man Escaped, narrates Guy Ben-Ner’s domestic adventure to escape from his son's cot, which is viewed as a personal cage. In Moby Dick (2000), Guy Ben-Ner uses Melville’s novel about the utopian quest for the great white whale to tell the story of an ordinary family in its everyday environment.
In Wild Boy, another work in the series although not included in this show, the artist does away with the Provence setting in François Truffaut’s film The Wild Child and instead examines moral conventions in the education of his youngest child. Meanwhile, in Berkeley´s Island (1999) Guy Ben-Ner becomes Defoe’s invention, Crusoe, and tells us a peculiar tale about a shipwreck inside his own home. Sitting atop an artificial sand hill in the middle of the kitchen, he narrates his experience on this unknown island, oblivious to reality around him. On the surface, the artist seems to revert to childhood and an imaginary place invented in spite of the vicissitudes of the world inhabited by "grown ups"; however, his own voice in off narrating the story debunks this theory: “My island is not a metaphor. It is the thing in itself.”
In Guy Ben-Ner’s works, real settings are combined with moments of comedy, in which the absurd becomes the only means of reflecting on a desperate situation. His simultaneously outrageous and dauntless figure reminds us of a modern Buster Keaton. But like this legendary actor, Guy Ben-Ner does more than simply entertain the audience. In the incongruities of his scripts, truths emerge unhindered. At times, gestures replace words in true slapstick style.
“When I see a balloon, I don’t prick it with a needle to pop it. No, I join in the celebration like everyone else. I even add more air to the balloon to blow it up further. In fact, I blow it up until it pops.” Such is Guy Ben-Ner’s unusual description of how the absurd operates in his work. We deconstruct something when we participate in it, not when we criticise it from the outside. For example, in Stealing Beauty (2007), another of the videos in the show, the artist once again takes the lead role to show us how he feels totally trapped by certain social conventions. In this video, Guy Ben-Ner is seen with his children in a variety of Ikea (the Swedish multinational) show rooms, recording everyday scenes to the astonished gaze of the audience passing through the store.
The need to show us the “making of ” in many of his videos acts as a mirror to explain the idiosyncrasy of our modus vivendi: the stratagem revealed shows us things as they are but which not everyone wants to see.
The work Tree House Kit (2005), probably one of Guy Ben-Ner’s most characteristic videos, is presented as the main installation at the CA2M show. A 4-metre-high wooden tree turns the exhibition space into an artificial nature setting. In the video accompanying the sculpture, Guy Ben-Ner is a shipwreck survivor obsessed with DIY. Lost on his mysterious island – four walls and a rug – he transforms the tree in the scene into various items of furniture and household objects. As in the Buster Keaton film One Week, the video highlights the modern obsession with prefabricated objects and the possibility of compressing spaces to provide them with the greatest possible number of functions. These are stereotyped spaces, each resembling the next, in which everyone has to use his imagination to resist an imposed standard of comfort.
Completing the exhibition are two of Guy Ben-Ner’s latest videos. In Second Nature (2008), presented at the Skulptur Project Münster, the artist swaps the family setting and the genealogy of artificial dwellings for a natural space in which he narrates a traditional tale - the fable of The Fox and the Crow, conceived here as a TV commercial. In the sequence, the artist introduces us to two animal trainers whom he instructs to animate the action. But far from talking about technical issues, they get into an absurd conversation based on Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot (1953). Familiar with the devices of the fable genre, Guy Ben-Ner abandons the Aristotelian tradition in favour of Brecht's notion of theatre, in which the different parts of the fable must be able to stand alone from the rest and there is no moral to the tale.
The video I’d Give it to You if I Could But I Borrowed It (2007) is presented on a stationary bicycle. In order to watch it, the visitor has to actively participate through the effort of pedalling, taking on an active role in the narrative. In the first part of the story, Guy Ben-Ner and his children steal various famous artworks in a hypothetical museum - Zerstorte Batterie by Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp’s bicycle wheel, Pablo Picasso’s head of a bull and Jean Tinguely’s Cyclograveur to create a new version of the velocipede. In the second part of the video, Guy Ben-Ner steals another artwork, this time Rodney Graham’s legendary piece The Phonokinetoscope, in which the artist listened to the same soundtrack while taking LSD and wandering around the Tiergarten in Berlin. Guy Ben-Ner’s version uses the music as the narrative thread for the ride he and his children proudly take through Münster on their wonderful “art bike”.
Although he refrains from adopting a specific stance, Guy Ben-Ner constantly talks to us of ethics and morals, using the same natural ease he employs to deny any particular commitment or personal position on these conventions. He borrows stories not so much out of some fetish or hobby, but as a mere exercise in survival. Guy Ben-Ner’s methodologies are so heterogeneous and his sources of inspiration so different that every genre is valid: from documentary to fiction, from video art to film, any excuse becomes a device for telling a story.
Guy Ben-Ner (Ramat Gan, Israel, 1969) lives and works in Tel Aviv. His official filmography begins in 1997 with a few video shorts that explore the idea of domestic space, a theme that runs through most of his subsequent works. Since then he has produced a variety of videos which have been screened at numerous group and individual exhibitions. His group exhibitions include Only Connect , Chelsea Art Museum, New York, 2008; Real Time: Art in Israel 1998-2008, Israel Museum, Jerusalem 2008; History Will Repeat Itself, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2006; Traum und Trauma, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2005; Wild Boy, “Premieres” screening series, MoMA, New York, 2005; Moby Dick, MoMA QNS Lobby Projections, New York, 2004; Becoming Father- Becoming Infant , The Bronx Museum, New York, 2004 and MFA Show, Columbia University, New York, 2003. He has participated in video festivals such as the Höhepunkte der Kölner Kunst Film Biennale, Berlin, 2009; the 53rd International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen, 2007; the Kunst Film Biennale, Cologne, 2007; Video X, Momenta Art , Brooklyn, New York, 2004 and at biennials such as Shanghai 2008 and Experimenta Playground, International Biennial of Media Arts, Melbourne, 2007.
A selection of his individual exhibitions includes Real Life: Ron Mueck and Guy Ben-Ner, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2008; Treehouse Kit, Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal, 2007; Guy Ben-Ner, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne , 2006; Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, 2005; and Elia-A Story of an Ostrich Chick, 2003, The Herzliya Museum of Art , Israel.
English/Spanish bilingual publication. With texts by Itale Schmelz, Ruth Estévez and Guy Ben Ner.