La exposición do mess with me contiene los vídeos <3 S P S <3 BLOOD y <3 S P S <3 INK adquiridos en 2020 dentro del plan de apoyo al sector artístico del Gobierno Vasco. Contextos desde una colección, al igual que a los casos de estudio y las rotaciones dentro de la exposición Zeru bat, hamaika bide, pretende incrementar la visibilidad del excepcional fondo contemporáneo del museo

El Museo Artium, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del País Vasco, presenta dentro del programa expositivo Contextos desde una colección, dos vídeos de la artista Lorea Alfaro, <3 S P S <3 BLOOD y <3 S P S <3 INK, recientemente adquiridos para la Colección del museo (Sala A02, hasta el 16 de enero de 2022). La exposición do mess with me incluye además de estas dos piezas una selección de obras de Alfaro, entre ellas las piezas realizadas con papel pintado Paski y Paretara, y el vídeo Tú re-post. La muestra incluye también la edición de la publicación do mess with me, que contiene una conversación entre Lorea Alfaro y el fotógrafo Rafa Castells. Contextos desde una colección conforma una serie de exposiciones dedicada a dar a conocer la producción de artistas que recientemente han pasado a formar parte de los fondos del Museo.

La serie <3 S P S <3 (2016-2017), de la que forman los dos vídeos, representa una forma contemporánea de retrato. Parte del diseño de una camisa de seda hecha a medida para el retratado, un conocido cantante de la escena del trap español. Lorea Alfaro concibe el diseño de la camisa como la realización de un molde: «Un molde es una pieza [CAMISA], o conjunto de piezas acopladas [PATRÓN], interiormente huecas pero con los detalles e improntas exteriores del futuro sólido que se desea obtener [ÉL]. Generalmente, un molde flexible [SEDA] se monta con un contra-molde rígido [VÍDEO] o “madre” [MADRE] que sujete la forma evitando su deformación [VÍDEO]. La ventaja de los moldes flexibles es permitir su desmolde con más delicadeza [SILK], procurando un mejor resultado de la pieza; además, es más liviano [SILK] y duradero [ARTE]».

El estampado de la camisa tiene como motivo repetido el tatuaje que tenía en el antebrazo un familiar de la autora. La exposición muestra la relación que hay entre estos dos vídeos y dos trabajos previos, Paretara y Paski (vinilo sobre pared, 2014-2021), y uno posterior, el vídeo Tú, re-post (2017). Estas relaciones, presentes en todo su trabajo, señalan el interés de esta artista por buscar la manera de insertar en la vida elementos que provengan de un tipo de atención, de cuidado, de tiempo, distintos a los que se dan en los objetos cotidianos.

Lorea Alfaro (Estella-Lizarra, 1982) es artista. Sus trabajos más recientes se han podido ver en las exposiciones 2020, junto con Jon Otamendi (Fundación Joan Miró, 2021), Un mundo sin cualidades (Galería CarrerasMugica, 2020) o No lo banalices (Galería CarerrasMugica, 2018, 948Merkatua, 2019). Desde 2014 trabaja a través de la marca hueca LA. Por otra parte, con motivo de esta exposición, el Museo ha editado un nuevo ejemplar de la serie #Bilduma, en la que se publican textos de escritores, comisarios e historiadores sobre obras y artistas que forman parte de su fondo patrimonial de carácter público. En esta ocasión, la publicación recoge una conversación entre Lorea Alfaro y el también artista Rafa Castells.

Contextos desde una colección
Contextos desde una colección, el programa al que pertenece esta exposición de Lorea Alfaro, se suma a partir de 2021 a otras iniciativas que tienen como finalidad promover el conocimiento de la Colección del Museo Artium, un excepcional fondo contemporáneo de carácter público integrado por casi 2.400 obras de arte. Así, además de la exposición permanente de la Colección, Zeru bat, hamaika bide, la Sala A01 acoge casos de estudio y exposiciones vinculadas al trabajo de investigación y la cronología 1977-2002 desplegada en esta muestra. La propia exposición Zeru bat, hamaika bide conoce periódicamente modificaciones que incorporan nuevos recorridos internos. La creación de la serie #Bilduma dentro del programa de publicaciones del Museo se enmarca en este mismo objetivo.

El programa de adquisiciones del Museo contribuye a explorar y a dar cuenta de los debates y las prácticas que se están desarrollando en el campo del arte en el momento presente, y es además una herramienta indispensable para tomar el pulso a un momento caracterizado por su dinamismo y su complejidad. Esta es una de las funciones fundamentales del Museo: fomentar la producción de patrimonio contemporáneo e impulsar a los y las artistas y sus producciones.

Daniel Llaría, Nadia Barkate y Lorea Alfaro son las y los artistas que han participado en este programa en 2021.

Nota de prensa (pdf)  Solicitud de imágenes  Exposición 

Lorea Alfaro. do mess with me. Contextos desde una colección

Sala A02, desde el 17 de septiembre de 2021 hasta el 16 de enero de 2022
Publicación: do mess with me. Lorea Alfaro/Rafa Castells.    

Published in Press room

Se trata un grupo significativo de dibujos y esculturas, de los cuales, cinco acuarelas de distintos formatos que pertenecen a la serie Tuya gigante, tuya occidental, han entrado a formar parte de la Colección del Museo de manera reciente. Contextos desde una Colección, al igual que a los casos de estudio y las rotaciones dentro de la exposición Zeru bat, hamaika bide, pretende incrementar la visibilidad del excepcional fondo contemporáneo del Museo

El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del País Vasco, Artium, presenta dentro del programa expositivo Contextos desde una colección, un conjunto de cinco acuarelas de distintos formatos de la artista Nadia Barkate de reciente adquisición, pertenecientes a la serie Tuya gigante, tuya occidental (Sala A02, hasta el 5 de septiembre de 2021). Estas piezas se contextualizan con una selección de obras de Barkate, acuarelas y esculturas en vidrio soplado, producidas en los últimos tres años. Contextos desde una colección conforma una serie de exposiciones dedicada a dar a conocer la producción de artistas que recientemente han pasado a formar parte de los fondos del Museo.

Nadia Barkate (Bilbao, 1980) desarrolla su trabajo a través del dibujo y sus inercias. En su práctica está muy presente cierta voluntad narrativa que vincula lo cotidiano, lo manual y la palabra. Tuya gigante, tuya occidental es parte de un grupo de acuarelas de pequeño y gran formato que Barkate realizó a lo largo de 2018 y 2019. Surgieron, según la artista, de momentos de ensimismamiento en su estudio en los que tomó conciencia de los gestos que acostumbraba a hacer con las manos mientras estaba concentrada.

La exposición presenta cinco piezas adquiridas en 2020 en el marco del plan de apoyo al sector artístico del Departamento de Cultura y Política Lingüística del Gobierno Vasco, que forman parte del fondo Colección compartida, seleccionado por el Museo Artium, Tabakalera de San Sebastián y el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Además, estas cinco obras se contextualizan con otras seis acuarelas y cinco esculturas en vidrio soplado de reciente producción, piezas procedentes en algunos casos de colecciones particulares.

Nadia Barkate ha expuesto recientemente en espacios como: Okela (Bilbao), Galería MPA (Madrid), Galleria Nappa and Studio Mustanapa, (Rovaniemi,2021), Lìtost Gallery (Praga, 2020), Bombón Projects (Barcelona,2019), Westfälischer Kunstverein (Münster, 2019), Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (2018), Tabakalera (San Sebastián, 2018), Ethall (Barcelona, 2018), Alhóndiga (Bilbao, 2018), Carreras Múgica (Bilbao, 2015), Altes Finanzamt (Berlin, 2015), Espai 01 (Olot, 2012), Montehermoso (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2010), entre otros.

Por otra parte, con motivo de esta exposición, el Museo ha editado un nuevo ejemplar de la serie #Bilduma, en la que se publican textos de escritores, comisarios e historiadores sobre obras y artistas que forman parte de su fondo patrimonial de carácter público. En esta ocasión, el autor del texto en torno a la obra de Barkate es Mariano Mayer (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1971), poeta y comisario de exposiciones. Desde el 2002 vive en Madrid. Entre sus últimos proyectos figura la exposición Azucena Vieites. Playing Across Papers, Sala Alcalá 31 (Madrid, 2020). Es autor del libro Fluxus Escrito. Actos textuales antes y después de Fluxus.

Contextos desde una Colección

Contextos desde una colección, el programa al que pertenece esta exposición de Nadia Barkate, se suma a partir de 2021 a otras iniciativas que tienen como finalidad promover el conocimiento de la Colección del Museo Artium, un excepcional fondo contemporáneo de carácter público integrado por casi 2.400 obras de arte. Así, además de la exposición permanente de la Colección, Zeru bat, hamaika bide, la Sala A01 acoge casos de estudio y exposiciones vinculadas al trabajo de investigación y la cronología 1977-2002 desplegada en esta muestra. La propia exposición Zeru bat, hamaika bide conoce periódicamente modificaciones que incorporan nuevos recorridos internos. La creación de la serie #Bilduma dentro del programa de publicaciones del Museo se enmarca en este mismo objetivo.

El programa de adquisiciones del Museo contribuye a explorar y a dar cuenta de los debates y las prácticas que se están desarrollando en el campo del arte en el momento presente, y es además una herramienta indispensable para tomar el pulso a un momento caracterizado por su dinamismo y su complejidad. Esta es una de las funciones fundamentales del Museo: fomentar la producción de patrimonio contemporáneo e impulsar a los y las artistas y sus producciones.

El artista Daniel Llaría fue el primero en exponer en el espacio A02, mientras que después de Nadia Barkate lo hará Lorea Alfaro.

La exposición  Obras en exposición  Nota de prensa (pdf)  Solicitud de imágenes 

Nadia Barkate. Tuya gigante, tuya occidental. Contextos desde una exposición
Sala A02, desde el 29 de mayo hasta el 5 de septiembre de 2021
Publicación: Nadia Barkate. Mi momia. Serie #Bilduma. Texto de Mariano Mayer.

Published in Press room

Nadia Barkate’s work refers to the space-time of drawing and its inertias. It also refers to the flow between technique and desire, the imprint that experience leaves on the body and notions of identity, interiority and otherness, among other things. There is a certain narrative will that links the everyday, the manual and the word in her practice. She deals with traditional gestures and techniques that go beyond the edges and lose form or sharpness, lucidity or hallucination.

Tuya gigante, tuya occidental belongs to a group of small and large format watercolours that Barkate produced throughout 2018. They emerged, according to the artist, from moments of self-absorption in her studio in which she became aware of the gestures she would make with her hands while she was concentrating.

Nadia Barkate has recently had exhibitions in venues such as Okela (Bilbao), Galería MPA (Madrid), Galleria Nappa and Studio Mustanapa, (Rovaniemi, 2021), Lìtost Gallery (Prague, 2020),  Bombón Projects (Barcelona, 2019), Westfälischer Kunstverein (Münster, 2019), Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (2018), Tabakalera (San Sebastián, 2018), Ethall (Barcelona, 2018), Alhóndiga (Bilbao, 2018), Carreras Múgica (Bilbao, 2015), Altes Finanzamt (Berlin, 2015), Espai 01 (Olot, 2012) and Montehermoso (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2010), among others.

Works in exhibition  Publication   

Contexts from a Collection is a series of exhibitions that aims to showcase the works of artists that have recently been added to the Collection. The activity joins other initiatives whose purpose is to raise awareness of the Artium Museum Collection, an exceptional contemporary public collection comprising almost 2,400 works of art. Within this context, the incorporation of pieces, documents and archives into the museum’s collection of works helps to explore and recount the debates and practices currently taking place in the field of art. This is undoubtedly one of the museum’s most important functions: to encourage the production of contemporary legacy and to foster artists and their productions. Artium’s programme of new acquisitions helps achieve this goal and is also an essential tool for keeping a finger on the pulse of a moment characterised by its vitality and complexity. We hope that this new initiative will function as a meeting point between audiences and artistic practices from which to develop new strategies for seeing and trying to understand our present.

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Con motivo de la celebración del Día Internacional de la Mujer, el Museo Artium presenta un programa que permite reflexionar sobre diferentes aspectos de la cuestión de la presencia de las mujeres en el ámbito de la práctica del arte, uno de los ejes transversales del Proyecto que desarrolla el Museo y que es transversal a todos sus ámbitos de trabajo e investigación. En ese sentido, abre al público Bigarren bidea (segunda vía), el primero de una serie de recorridos dentro de la exposición de la Colección Zeru bat, hamaika bide, centrado en esta ocasión en los vínculos entre arte y pensamiento feminista. Paralelamente, Artium abre el Centro de documentación de artistas vascas. Prácticas artísticas y teorías del arte feministas, un espacio especializado dedicado a reunir, conservar y difundir fuentes bibliográficas y documentación que contribuyan a la investigación sobre prácticas artísticas vinculadas movimiento feminista y a las producciones de las artistas vascas de distintas generaciones.
 
El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del País Vasco, Artium se inaugura en 2002 a partir de una colección compuesta por fondos de la Diputación Foral de Álava, del Gobierno Vasco, del Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz y del Parlamento Vasco. Fondos a los que se irán incorporando las obras adquiridas por el museo desde su fundación. En 2018 la colección, que cuenta con cerca de 2400 obras de arte, se sometió a un análisis confirmando la escasa presencia de artistas mujeres en sus fondos, un 20,8 %. Desde esa fecha, y en su calidad de institución pública preocupada por ofrecer el mejor servicio al conjunto de la ciudadanía y atendiendo, tanto a la realidad vasca, como a las nuevas corrientes museográficas internacionales, el Museo implementa una línea estratégica que aboga por la incorporación de las artistas en las historias del arte y que destaca que sus obras son parte fundamental del patrimonio.

El desarrollo de esta nueva línea de trabajo, que impulsa iniciativas como las del recorrido de la Colección, Bigarren Bidea, que se inaugura en el marco de la celebración del 8 de marzo, incorpora a la exposición de los fondos del Museo los depósitos y las adquisiciones de artistas mujeres claves para entender el desarrollo de los debates del arte contemporáneo en el contexto. En este recorrido se han expuesto, por vez primera, un conjunto de obras adquiridas con los fondos destinados por el Departamento de Cultura del Gobierno Vasco en el año 2020 a un Colección compartida entre esta institución, el CICC Tabakalera y el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, así como obras adquiridas por la Diputación Foral de Álava. Entre otras, se podrán ver expuestas en las salas de Artium las obras de las artistas Azucena Vieites, Estíbaliz Sádaba, Ana Isabel Román y Lucía Onzain. Se ha dedicado un espacio central a la obra de la artista Juana Cima, presentando una pieza mural que procede de la colección del Ayto. de Vitoria-Gasteiz y que fue premio de la IV Bienal de Pintura y Escultura en 1980.

Coincidiendo con este nuevo recorrido, el 5 de marzo se presenta el Centro de documentación de artistas vascas, y prácticas artísticas y teorías del arte feministas, un espacio especializado adscrito al Servicio de Biblioteca y Documentación del Museo. Un proyecto que refuerza una línea estratégica del Museo y que tiene como objetivo el trabajo desde la paridad. Este centro es además un archivo documental de las obras de las artistas del País Vasco presentes en la colección del Museo, así como de las  artistas con las que se establecen diálogos en la institución a través de sus diferentes programas expositivos.

De este modo, el Centro de documentación cumple una doble función; por un lado, muestra los avances realizados por el museo para completar su colección incluyendo a las artistas en sus fondos y archivos; y, por otro, facilita tanto a la comunidad artística, como al conjunto de la ciudadanía, la posibilidad de acceder y estudiar los trabajos y las figuras de las artistas del contexto.

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Exposición 

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The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country presents a programme of solo and group exhibitions that develop its main strands of work. Two of its core principles in 2021 will continue to be the inclusion of women artists in its temporary exhibition programme and Permanent Collection and its public legacy conservation and research.

Artium Museum will this year also focus on studying the links between artistic and educational practices with two group exhibitions on the crossovers and exchanges between art and pedagogy in the Basque Country since the 1960s and various historical experiences that have had a bearing on learning and art’s capacity to be an element of change. The second edition of the JAI (Institute of Artistic Practices) study programme will take place within this context in collaboration with CICC Tabakalera.

Film and moving images will also be major strands in its 2021 programme with the launch of an exhibition project of films produced by artists and filmmakers in a new exhibition space –Gallery Z– beginning in May with a line-up of international guest artists visiting the Museum.

Lorea Alfaro | Gerardo Armesto | Txaro Arrazola | A Place to Think: Experimental Art Practices and Schools in the Basque Country (1963-73) | Antonio Ballester Moreno | Juncal Ballestín | Maddi Barber+Marina Lameiro | Nadia Barkate | Eric Baudelaire | Katinka Bock | Mariana Castillo Deball | June Crespo | Moyra Davey | Patricia Esquivias | José Félix González Placer | Daniel Llaría | Rosalind Nashashibi | Xabier Salaberria | Zeru bat, hamaika bide. Bigarren bidea / Constructing a Public Legacy

See complete programme (pdf) 

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Gerardo Armesto (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1949) presents works made on video between 1981 and 1990 in this exhibition. Alongside these pieces –a great deal of which have recently entered the Museum’s collection of works– several sketchbooks, models and sculptural objects relate his production to theoretical developments and analyses on perception in a consistent manner. The exhibition aims to be a new case study in the Collection project Zeru bat, hamaika bide. Artistic Practices in the Basque Country in the Period 1977-2002

Armesto’s work during the 1980s and early 1990s focused on studying audiovisual processes. The analysis of perception and the interrelation between position, colour, lights and volumes in space, applied to the exercise of teaching, were the catalyst that widened his interest in the moving image in his work. As Francisco Ruiz de Infante, a workshop partner during that decade, indicates: “Being a pioneer allows you to play with errors and lived experience in real time. Do colour, shadow and light create volumes? Yes! Is the cube also a medium for expression? And the face? Of course! Simulacra are always expressive skins thanks to light”.

The exhibition encompasses 8 key audiovisual pieces, reference works in the use of animated images during the period of transition from analogue medium to digital creation. Taking centre stage in these, alongside technical innovation, are point of view, geometric projection and medium, whose precise, concrete and defined nature transport us to a consolidated, unreal construction, while a restless, moving point of view returns back to us the deformed, complex image of reality.

After his early work in painting, the analysis of the perception of form, colour and light applied to the exercise of teaching led to works such as La elección del soporte, 1981, which won an award at the National Video Festival in Madrid, and later animation pieces developed both analogically and through digital experimentation. Disfraces para un cubo II, one of the first moving image works in the exhibition, was included in La imagen sublime, a benchmark exhibition on emerging video creation in Spain organised at MNCARS in 1987.

Works on exhibition  Publication

Published in Exhibitions

A journey through works and artists that began to follow this second path in art, producing new imaginaries and/or questioning the art institution

Published in Exhibitions

The Get-Rich es una serie numerada de esculturas basada en la de-construcción de prendas de trabajo -el buzo, la bata- y su relación física con elementos con entidad industrial -cemento, packagings, finchas, metal-.Las piezas refieren a cuestiones de identidad de clase en el espacio-tiempo que separa al trabajador fordista (aka peón sindicado) del posfordista (aka creativo freelance). Aquí, la escultura es instrumentalizada para sugerir una proto-nostalgia lumpenproletariat tan solemne como unos progenitores sindicalistas y tan cínica como su progenie creativa (o viceversa). El título, Los Hazte-Rico, somete toda esta operación al sesgo del lenguaje del hip-hop. El objetivo es apuntar directamente a un intelectualismo para el cual el proletariado no cuenta con una ideología propia sino que simplemente adapta -precariamente- aquella que el poder les ha facilitado. Aquí el artista se presenta como ejemplo de esta realidad, apostando por el get-rich-quick-scheme de capitalizar su propia realidad en forma de objeto-arte. 

Llaría se licencia en Bellas Artes por la Universidad del País Vasco. En 2015 se muda a Nueva York gracias a una beca Fulbright donde obtiene su maestría en arte por Parsons The School for Design. Su formación se completa con el verano de 2017 en Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture,. Ha participado en exposiciones colectivas como Antes que todo (2010, CA2M), First Thought Best (2014, Artium) o Itzuli Barik (2019, Kulturate). Entre sus muestras individuales destacan Think locally fuck globally (2009, Montehermoso), papá camp da (2019, Carreras Múgica) o Holes and Poles (2020, BilbaoArte).

El ciclo de exposiciones Contextos desde una Colección se pone en marcha en el espacio A02 del Museo con el objeto de dar a conocer la producción de artistas que recientemente han entrado a formar parte de la Colección. Con esta propuesta arranca una serie de exposiciones que se suma a otros programas del Museo que tienen como objetivo dar a conocer la Colección Artium, un excepcional fondo contemporáneo de carácter público integrado por casi 2.400 obras de arte. En este marco, la incorporación de piezas, documentos y archivos a los fondos museográficos, contribuye a explorar y a dar cuenta de los debates y las prácticas que se están desarrollando en el campo del arte en el momento presente. Esta es, sin duda, una de las funciones más relevantes del Museo: fomentar la producción de patrimonio contemporáneo e impulsar a los y las artistas y a sus producciones. El programa de nuevas adquisiciones de la Colección contribuye a este objetivo y es además una herramienta indispensable para tomar el pulso a un momento caracterizado por su dinamismo y su complejidad.

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La exposición vincula prácticas artísticas, manifestaciones culturales y procesos históricos en un período de 25 años caracterizado por grandes hitos políticos, sociales y culturales.

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Zeru bat, hamaika bide begins in 1977, the year that marked the beginning of a period of major political, social and cultural milestones. The exhibition’s field of inquiry extends over a period of more than two decades and concludes in 2002, the year in which Artium Museum opened.

By linking artistic practices, cultural expressions and historical processes, the exhibition tackles, among other issues, the processes of institutionalisation that took place during this period, the participation of artists in creating cultural policies, the interchanges between artistic practices and social movements, the rise in feminist awareness and the tensions between the local and the global in debates on art that appeared in the late 20th century.

Zeru bat, hamaika bide has been designed as an open, inclusive narrative under ongoing construction, bringing together more than a hundred works of art, documents and archive materials in the Museum’s rooms and tracing a journey through the diversity of expressions that emerged in the quarter of a century covered by this project.

Laino guzien azpitik… eta sasi guztien gainetik

The spell-like nature of Joxan Artze’s phrase from 1973 indicated a defined field of action. What remained below all the clouds and above all the brambles was late Francoism. If the shot was made wider, it became clear that the untimely opening announcing the final phase of this dictatorship coexisted with another closure, which was that of modernity and its utopian projects.

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The limits and possibilities of the field of action that Artze’s phrase defined would be revealed at the beginning of Spain’s transition to democracy. Another phrase by the poet, Martxa baten lehen notak, provided the title to a song by Mikel Laboa in 1977, the year in which this exhibition begins. The song captures the mixture of enthusiasm and uncertainty at the time: we were hearing the first notes of a march that had not yet been composed and was neither funerary nor military, but civilian. After four decades of silence, the streets began to fill with people marching together with demands of all kinds: labour, feminist, gay and lesbian, neighbourhood associations, ecologists... Political changes responding to popular pressure were not long in coming. In that same year of 1977, prior to the first general elections, freedom of the press and political association were decreed.

In a general atmosphere of unrest and violence, the Basque Country would be one of the most active centres of mobilisation in the State. Contributing to this mobilisation drive was a confluence of factors, such as a deep-rooted nationalist sentiment that had been repressed during the dictatorship or the problems arising from a declining industrial model. In addition to the streets, other surrounding spaces played a major role, thereby indicating the centrality of culture as a social driving force: September 1997 marked the staging of the 25th San Sebastian Film Festival, known as the “People’s Festival”, while in December of that same year, the Leioa campus of the then University of Bilbao hosted the first feminist seminars in the Basque Country, and in June 1978, the San Mamés football pitch was filled with people attending the Bai Euskarari festival in defence of the Basque language.

Within this context of uncertainty and potential at the beginning of Spain’s Transition, art was placed at the service of the needs of this new situation. The artists of the Basque School assumed the task of creating graphic symbols for popular demands and for these new institutions as the new political-administrative framework took shape. Their representations would also spread throughout the territory. Continuing the language of geometric abstraction, sculptural forms were so successfully embedded in the landscape that they would soon be viewed as distinctive elements of all things Basque, thereby showing the effectiveness of art in producing symbols of collective identification.

The involvement of artists in the Basque Country during the Transition was not limited to providing images with which to represent new realities. They also actively participated in designing public cultural policies. They therefore undertook the task of thinking about how artistic forms can be structured within social space and what the social and political potential of art is within a limited field of action.

At a time of exalting the figure of the collective subject and its ubiquitous representation as a gathering of bodies marching in the streets, certain practices would take alternative routes, geared towards the silent experimentation of the studio or the performance of actions by a specifically situated female body. Both would be presented as potential versions of that field of action defined between the clouds and brambles to which Artze referred. Rigorous, structural abstraction in the former version that was deeply influenced by conceptual art and the paintings of Elena Asins. Ejercicios corporales in the latter, a series of actions that Esther Ferrer would record in 1975 that shows the naked artist moving around a room. The artist and camera move towards the window during its final minutes, opening up to a view of the sky and the rooftops of Paris, another new perspective of that limited field of action.

Ilgora / Dead moon

Jorge Oteiza’s visual poem Plenilunio en Fitero records two moments when the moon passed through the sky on the night of 10 June 1981. On that same day, Spain’s Official State Bulletin published the decree law on industrial reconversion measures. The implementation of these measures in the years to come would lead to major changes in the territory. The dismantling of ageing heavy industry would lead to a landscape of post-industrial ruins in the Basque territory, with particular emphasis in the Nervión basin area. New at the time and now gone, this landscape would be accompanied by high rates of unemployment, widespread disenchantment and contaminated soils.

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While this new neoliberal economic model was being implemented, the world was heading towards a reordering that was certified by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Entering what was now being defined as the postmodern period, the end of ideologies was announced. In a world without peripheries, the logic of capitalism was imposed on everything, including culture. Several theorists warned of this change by indicating the problematic centrality that culture was coming to occupy in this new stage of capitalism.

Unrelated to all this, the moon continued to cross the sky and pass from one phase to another. This celestial body would become a recurring image in the postmodern 1980s. A symbol of twilight, of night and sparkle, its figure would be associated with subcultural transgression, hedonism, experimentation with drugs and the masquerade of gender. And also with death. “Light of the dead” is one of the etymologies attributed to the term ilargi, the word for “moon” in Basque. Together with the economic crisis in the Basque Country, the consequences of what was dubbed as the “Basque conflict” in the media cast a shadow over the landscape.

Despite the harshness of the moment, the political situation was opening to changes and movements. The first cultural policies were beginning to be applied. Since there was hardly any infrastructure, the basis of these would be what had already existed. The old Bilbao School of Fine Arts became a faculty. At a time marked by the nihilism of punk and postmodern relativism, a generation of artists who had passed through this faculty were now thinking about what to do, how to respond to the needs of the historical moment from an individual creative process. On the one hand, they had received local tradition, and therefore their own, embodied by the modern work and figure of Oteiza, both of which were powerful and alluring. While on the other hand, there were international currents that were similarly powerful and alluring to them, even though distant and cosmopolitan.

Between melancholy and ironic distancing, between a desire to belong and a need to distance themselves, these artists would respond to this received tradition by using the medium of sculpture. In 1983, the Association of Basque Artists (EAE by its Basque acronym) was set up in Bilbao and the Alava Artists Association (AAdA by its Spanish acronym) in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The EAE brought together a group of artists under a banner that highlighted the influence of the Basque School, as well as their desire to become involved in social issues. At a time of returning to studios and a flourishing market –the Madrid-based ARCO fair was founded in 1982– EAE assumed the gestures and ways of political activism and applied these to the context of art and demanded the involvement of public representatives in cultural policies. The group broke up in 1985. In that same year, the exhibition Myths and Crimes ushered in the label “New Basque Sculpture”, a name with which not everyone would come to identify.

The commitment of artists during these years was expressed in ways other than collective action. Some ran galleries, organised exhibitions by other artists and wrote about art. In the absence of structures and figures to mediate and reflect on the work of artists, it was the artists themselves who assumed this task. This attitude would serve as a model for the immediately succeeding generation, which had already grown up in the subcultural modes of self-management.

Issues that had hitherto been left out of public debate took centre stage in the mid-1980s. HIV, a virus transmitted through blood and sexual contact, was causing a global epidemic, triggering what would become known as the “AIDS crisis”. In the public imagination, this illness would go hand in hand with clandestine, nocturnal practices. Practices that transferred several features associated with early avant-garde art to the field of the body: experimentation, transgression and the breaking of established norms. There were few encounters and interchanges between the illness and art beyond that of private and personal stories. One of them –Carrying by Pepe Espaliú, a collective action conducted in the streets of San Sebastián in September 1992– placed the “ill body” at the centre of the discussion and underlined the potential of art to address the emergencies of its historical moment.

Lur azpiko urak, ur azpiko lurrak

The water under the earth, the earth under the water. Language allows us to play with the meanings of things, to alter them and to create new meanings. To turn the world upside down. To reverse the order. To change what is seen.

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A photographic series from the early 1990s. It shows a young woman in pyjamas with her head shaved looking inside a refrigerator. In Variation sur la même t’aime (1991-1992) by Itziar Okariz, the head is displayed as the Earth, the hair as the continents and the skin as the oceans. Hair as a figure, skin as a background and head as a sculpture.

Works of art operate with language and are thus acts of culture. As such, they produce disorder. Nonetheless, the discontinuities they generate have the rare quality of not transgressing the field of the symbolic, remaining at the margins of the general flow and not imposing any new orders. They are critical representations that were not present before.

During the same years in which Okariz’s work provided its particular version of superimposing background and figure, a number of quick, profound changes that would alter the shape of the world were at a nascent stage. Changes were accelerating. New technologies were making it possible to connect all points on the planet. Although access to these technologies was not widespread, the Internet was already outlining a virtual territory whose contours seemed to be infinitely expanding. And as digital space expanded, physical territory seemed to become compressed. With everything increasingly faster and closer, the processes of globalisation were blurring local characteristics. They also enabled encounters between hitherto different, distant people. Cultural translation was presented as a necessity within a globalised world.

In an era of global capitalism –also referred to as post-industrial, advanced, cognitive, financial, etc.– concepts such as delocalisation, outsourcing or precariousness were beginning to appear. The ways that artists worked were also changing, as was their workspaces. A studio could fit into a notebook or a computer. It was wherever artists were.

There would be a proliferation of new museums and art centres during these years and some would respond directly to the new needs of artists. An example of this would be Arteleku, a unique experiment and place of exchange. An exchange that would occur between practice and discourse, but primarily among artists. The workshops of this art centre in San Sebastián would therefore help local artists and those from other places to meet, as well as artists from different generations.

As demonstrated by New Basque Sculpture in the 1980s, the dialogue between one generation and the previous one must necessarily revolve around identification and response in order to be productive. One of the elements of rupture of the generation of the 1990s would be the presence of women artists working from an explicitly feminist consciousness. The theoretical framework of feminism as well as subculture and its tools –appropriation, economy of means, DIY, etc.– would become key references in constructing the practices of these artists, as well as their fellow generation members.

But the major element of discontinuity from these years would undoubtedly be the processes of globalisation. Within the Basque context, the tensions between the global and the local would be exemplified by the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997, a symbol of the “Bilbao effect” and new city model. The building would become one of the new elements that burst onto the landscape and helped to accelerate the transformation processes generated by globalisation.

At a time when the trend towards homogenisation was increasing, as was an anxiety in the face of the disappearance of signs associated with the local, artists would use these very same signs as the subject of their works. Confronted by a changing landscape and increasingly unstable terrain, works of art would prove to be an effective means of exploring the tensions and uncertainties at the turn of the century. To produce disorders and discontinuities. To critically represent reality. To rupture order. To position oneself outside. To do so from linguistic procedures. Lur azpiko urak, ur azpiko lurrak. Groundwater, submerged lands.

In addition to works from the Artium Collection, the exhibition includes long-term loans, donations and acquisitions that entered into the institution’s possession over the past year, as well as a significant number of works from the Gure Artea competition, promoted by the Basque Government’s Department of Culture.

The exhibition also contains works and archives from private individuals and institutions such as Kutxa Fundazioa, Fundación Sancho el Sabio (Fundación Vital Fundazioa), Filmoteca Vasca, Fundación-Museo Jorge Oteiza, Artxibo Arteleku / Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa, ASAC – Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia), Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea and Centro de Documentación de Mujeres “Maite Albiz”.

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Curators: Xabier Arakistain, Miren Jaio, Elena Roseras and Beatriz Herráez
Project coordination: Daniel Eguskiza. Exhibition design: Gorka Eizagirre

Published in Exhibitions
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