Xabier Salaberria. An Exhibition Without Architecture

From: Friday, 21 May 2021

To: Sunday, 03 October 2021

Place: Sala A1

The work of Xabier Salaberria (San Sebastian, 1969) alternates between the fields of sculpture, design and the organisation of spaces and architecture. His practice is rooted in studying the history of techniques, materials and objects. Photography, drawing and installation are the media the artist has used in works such as the one created as part of his exhibition at Artium Museum. A space that he has interpreted and in which he has intervened on the basis of analysing various exhibition displays, outlining a system of routes in the rooms to explore the proposed junctions between the technical aspects of museography, the functions and history(ies) of architecture and the representation of landscape and territory.

Where does a title such as Una exposición sin arquitectura (An Exhibition Without Architecture) by Salaberria lead us? The mental image that is built behind a statement of this kind would bring us closer to an abstract space in which a variety of objects would be free of any spatial conditioning factors, as part of a kind of exercise in which the object would be shown in all its formal and conceptual purity. But every exhibition is always a representation, a constructed space, and it is the architecture in its encounter with the object that is going to acquire special import in his proposal. Through this negation, the artist meaningfully brings to the forefront the space, its walls, heights, routes, etc. and how these condition our behaviour and our way of looking at and feeling the works it contains. Already from its title, Salaberria has created a space for speculation in which to consider the power of architecture, exhibition and display, and how these influence the narrative and our reading.

The artist has collaborated with museums and institutions over the past few years in designing the exhibitions of other authors and this informs us of his ability to interpret and identify the gestures and traces of spaces, materials and architectures in shaping meaning. The author critically analyses concepts, attitudes and discourses in those as pects where theoretical positioning is tied to the practice of space. In Artium, and in line with this process tied to the spectator’s experience, Salaberria has recently participated in thinking about a place such as the museum’s inner courtyard, as part of an exercise in translating the language that addresses an architectural logic of the building, which is that of use, transit and rest, with the aim of actively incorporating it into the museum’s daily life. The artist has opened up spaces to be seen, eliminated barriers and suggested pragmatic meeting places where architecture, design and function meet within the context of the museum.

The exhibition contains eleven proposals that include photographs, installations and objects. Originating from a variety of series, the works maintain their own entity while complementing each other under the same spatial logic. Alongside these works, most of which have been produced in the last two years, the exhibition incorporates the memory of earlier proposals. The installation that gives the project its title, Una exposición sin arquitectura, from this same year, is therefore made up of a series of modular panels on which hang images, plans and projects of works carried out as a designer of exhibitions and spaces – including the one produced for the museum.

Altered in position, colour and function, they create a territory combining functional and symbolic application, a common occurrence in his artistic practice. The exhibition includes other works such as r de radio, an installation produced in 2020, in which four vertical metal display stands show a collection of broken glass, or Bézier (2020), eight aluminium plates that transfer the silhouettes of glass fragments to a flat medium in the form of a text. Alongside several photographs from previous moments in his career, a new series of photographs is also included, a frieze of five images taken in Agiña. The photographs highlight the accidents, fortuitous or not, on the surfaces and edges of the monument that Jorge Oteiza produced as a tribute to Father Donostia. They seemingly bring the sacred space 29 of Oteiza’s microlithic cromlech into dialogue with the profane space of the crags of the cliffs of Aya, as well as with the memory of the monument and the accidental or violent casual shapes of its silhouette. The photographs also subvert the usual conventions and norms of exhibition. It is through these alterations that Salaberria calls attention to space, to architecture, to devices as elements that create meaning in the place where they are installed.

Xabier Salaberria lives and works in Donostia. His period of training was linked to the Arteleku Art Centre, where he took part in workshops such as those given by Txomin Badiola and Ángel Bados in 1998, or Peio Irazu in the same year, a meeting and discussion space that he has continued to maintain as a place of work and reference over time. The many residency programmes in which he has participated have led him to spend long periods of time abroad – which has given his work greater visibility – and he has collaborated in projects curated by Peio Agirre, Chus Martínez, Lars Bang Larsen and Catalina Lozano, among others. His most recent exhibitions include r de radio, Carreras Múgica, Bilbao (2020); Ganar Perdiendo, Centro Centro, Madrid (2019); Restos materiales, obstáculos y herramientas, 32nd São Paulo Art Biennial (2016); Can-ni-faire, Carreras Múgica (2016); Proceso y Método. (A.T.M.O.T.W.) Xabier Salaberria, Bilbao Guggenheim (2013); The Society Without Qualities, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2013), and Inkontziente-Kontziente (Scenario1 about Europe), GFZK, Leipzig 2011.

He was awarded the Gure Artea Award in 2008, the Marcelino Botín Foundation Creation Grant in 2009 and the Art and Research Grant from the Montehermoso Art Centre in Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2011. In addition to the Artium Collection, his work can be found in public collections and museums such as MACBA in Barcelona, Marcelino Botín Foundation in Santander, TEA Collection in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Sabadell Collection, and Fine Arts Museum and Guggenheim Museum, both in Bilbao.

Curators: Beatriz Herráez, Enrique Martínez Goikoetxea

List of works  Publication 

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