Curatorial text in occasion of 5X5Castelló2013 Project at Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló and El Convent-Espai d’art, Vila-real. From October 25, 2013 to January 12, 2014.
At present, visual art is open to and absorbs contents from various social and cultural fields and re-inscribes them in spaces conceived for their consumption with a twofold goal: to use hybrid techniques and subject matters, coexisting naturally and endowing contemporary art with a clear cultural and social vocation; and the acceptance that any innovation is possible and with the potential to transcend the specific field it emerges from.
Without engaging in a reductionist reading of this edition of 5x5Castelló 2013-2014, the twenty-five artists selected are perfect exponents of those contemporary approaches to visual art which, paraphrasing Guy Debord, “are more similar to their time than to their parents.” In this year’s edition the intention is to identify a thematic thread running through the works submitted, yet without this implying any delimitation of the individual projects or works, leaving the final word about what is seen, perceived and analysed to the spectator’s gaze and interpretation, with this thread merely proposing a possible route that allows for physical and theoretical rambling.
The interconnection of those otherwise plural works is subdivided into four thematic blocks, with each one containing a flexible number of pieces or actions which may be read from a conceptual perspective in a kind of mutual “good neighbourliness” among them. Inclusion in a particular thematic block provides some guidance about their reading but without determining their meaning. In turn, the four sections generate a visit connecting the general and the personal, holding a mirror up to the Self and opening a window onto the world and Otherness and vice versa, like a two-way path. The blocks correspond to the following concepts: Places, Narratives, Distances and Questionings, now reduced to the initial word of a sentence in need of contextualising. By way of explanation of their own specific habitat, a concise introduction accompanies the works grouped within each thematic section.
Another new feature of 5x5Castelló this year is the existence of a second venue to exhibit part of the works. The Convent Espai d’art, in Vila-Real, joins the Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló-EACC to expand the meaning of a spatial parcour that is completed with a visit to both venues, making up two parts of a whole in two different temporal settings, an aspect in itself generating a space-time play characteristic of any route or path.
Places offers itself as a possible beginning. It stands for nature and contemporary cities—the place for memory and the space which, although it may be homologised, acts at once as a negation, as a non-place: a cutting-through and the ungraspable. What is given and what has been manipulated lead us to the construction of a world in need of Narratives to be told when the representation of our surroundings and the creation of reality through the narration take shape in the re-contextualised space of the exhibition. The gaze in the mirror generates a reflection but it also doubles the distance; Distances is a group of works reflecting on identity, being and on the appearance of being, taken as individual case studies. And leading on from that awareness of distance, Questionings poses enquiries into the social and the political, the way in which we have grouped collective interests and questions in the deficiencies of an apparently infallible system.
The suggested order is concentrated and summed up at the venue in Vila-real, which opens six days later, and which hosts a selection of eight works representing the four thematic groups. The intention is to create a rambling between both spaces that underscores the complementary quality of the proposal, through two pieces that fit together when placed side by side, despite their differing sizes and the diversity of their forms.
Places. Nature and habitats; globalised places of transit; the place evoked inside the exhibition space; the mechanism of the exhibited; the installation as re-contextualising place. The visit begins in the landscape, now a transformed and often over-exploited urban territory and habitat. Places of transit, of passage; the non-place as the iconic concept of a lifestyle, opposed to the place of identity, subjected to history and time, to memories and forgetting. In art, memory is built on the register prior to loss and transformation, which rescues and slows down the implacable becoming of facts while, other times, it just shows or re-enacts a becoming of global dimensions. The exhibition space transformed into a place of representation (and of translation at an individualised scale) of an outside existing in relation to the common and the collective.
Narratives. Universal history and micro histories; narratives explaining the world; the universe and artist’s studio; the story of what configures us on a collective level. Once we have acknowledged our surroundings, we invent the codes that allow us to understand, explain and re-enact it. Orally, in writing or through images, as in an ever more complex and sophisticated communication process, we cross the border between the external and our own understanding through culture. The artwork and the exhibition space become a symbol or an allegory of what circulates and lives on outside its boundaries.
Distances. Identity in front of the mirror that creates a distance with what it reflects; gender; physical presence and action as necessary complements of the expanded work; the multiplicity of the Self. The reflection of a face in water is a mythical narrative of the principle of self-consciousness that has found a loyal ally in art. The evolution of gender and personal identity issues in relation to the established, the need to defend equality and vindicate the visibility of minorities… all these demands are clearly related to the art of recent decades which finds in its ways of exorcising the individual a shared path to travel together.
Questionings. Analysing the world and its rules from a critical distance; a questioning of the system; any personal element and all ethical elements; a debate between the medium and the message; metanarratives. Looking critically at the world requires a social and political involvement. Contemporary art has expanded its limits and blurred its borders to make room for postulates which, not necessarily or entirely connected to art, may be more appropriately read and understood from within art than in other contexts. These “aesthetics of emergency” (Reinaldo Ladagga) act outside the limits of art so as to return to the socio-political arena, once resources have been used and canonical spaces of the medium itself have been occupied. Controlling the controllers and questioning the limits between representation and the construction of realities.
Translated from Spanish by Lambe&Nieto
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