Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona Presents INVOCABLE REALITY, Now thru 8/31
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) presents the group exhibition Invocable Reality, curated by Montse Badia (Barcelona, 1965), which follows the multiple options for considering reality offered by artistic practice. For this, the exhibition brings together a collection of works by artists from different backgrounds and generations who reflect upon that which exists, its representation and mediation, based on the 'here and now'.
Although the real is one of the major issues with which we engage in art, this show approaches reality at a moment in which we have a complicated relationship with it, a moment dominated by the prevailing rhetoric of distraction, the mechanisms for the construction of reality, its mediatisation, fictionalisation and virtualisation. At the same time, there is a 'passion for the real', for the genuine, for that which is credible.
The exhibition explores all these aspects starting from the questions: Is there a reality outside our perception? Does it imply the affirmation of reality both in life and death? Is extreme violence the price we pay to unlock some layers of reality? Is reality the everyday, our personal experience? Or does reality lie with other people? Is it possible to represent authentic 'slices of life'? What is authenticity? Can art have a bearing on reality?
Invocable Reality starts with two seminal works from the seventies: the video The Girl Chewing Gum, 1976, by John Smith (London, 1952), which records a scene that takes place on a busy London street while a voiceover appears to direct both the camera movements and the actions taking place, and the dramatic documentary Als wär's von Beckett (As if it were Beckett), 1976, by Lutz Mommartz (Erkelenz, Germany, 1934), depicting a cruel and dramatic exchange of reproaches and accusations, laments and frustrations of a couple in crisis, who, at the invitation of the filmmaker, remained separated for a week to meet again in front of the camera.
With the work of Roman Ondák, Antonio Ortega and Núria Güell, reality enters the museum with new codes. Teaching to Walk, 2002, by Roman Ondák (Žilina, Slovakia, 1966) is a performance in which a mother accompanies her son as he takes his first steps in the gallery, a brief but crucial moment in the lives of all human beings. With this simple gesture, inspired by his own experiences of his son learning to walk, Ondák invites us to rediscover that instant, not by representing it, but by letting reality enter the museum in the form of an artistic work. In Zócalo Antonio Ortega. Un intento de glosar el concepto de demagogia (Antonio Ortega skirting board. An attempt to explain the concept of demagogy), 2013-14, Antonio Ortega (Sant Celoni, Barcelona, 1968) installs a skirting board around the exhibition space. Specially produced for the occasion, the skirting board is slightly higher than standard. With this minor modification and this simple gesture, Ortega gives the museum space a 'reality with a practical purpose', turning it into a real space.
Núria Güell (Vidreres, Girona, 1981 ) seeks to make a direct impact on reality. To this end she has formed Ca l'Àfrica, a cooperative with a group of immigrants currently living in industrial warehouses in Barcelona's Poblenou district. The cooperative organisation is a tool that allows its members to draw up labour contracts, thus finding a solution to their situation. Some of them have been hired in the context of the exhibition to perform various tasks.
Mireia Sallarès, Jeremy Deller and Phil Collins film reality. In Le Camion de Zahïa (Zahïa's van), 2003, Mireia Sallarès (Barcelona, 1973) presents the story of Zahïa, an Algerian woman who ran a van selling pizzas in a square in Valence, southern France, until a new city bylaw prohibited the parking of such vehicles in the city, coinciding with the redevelopment of the city centre as a shopping mall. On this occasion, the piece is activated by installing a van similar to Zahïa's in the public space, acting as a projection 'screen' for a selection of documentaries that explore issues related to gentrification and the privatisation of public space.