Exhibition Compostela


5th March – 30th May, 2004
Centro Galego de Art Contemporanea (CGAC)
Rua Ramon del Valle Inclan, s/n
15704 Santiago de Compostela

“Compostela is an exhibition which has been organized around ten individual projects by artists who share their use of photography and video, as well as a remarkable interest for the reflection on everyday issues and references to natural and human landscape, urban architectures, monuments or peripheral neighborhoods, but also to aspects, which are more difficult to symbolize, like the physiognomy – spiritual, sentimental and mood-related- of a city or even the human landscape.  More than a collective exhibition on the city, Compostela is a series of entwined projects, which try to compete with and to show the present of the town.

Lars Arrhenius, Gabriele Basilico, Roland Fischer, Gunther Forg, Ruben Ramos Balsa, Humberto Rivas, Lorna Simpson, Montserrat Soto, Beat Streuli and Peter Wuthrich were invited by CGAC, to link their project to the city in a broad sense, and, in an explicit or implicit manner, to its history. The result is a significant series of unreleased pieces of work, even if in two of them, the topic proposed was merged with an idea, which was already underway.

Despite the visible presence of photography, video and computer animation are other means selected by the artists, who stem from diversified scenarios, which are alien to those with which the traditional image of Santiago de Compostela is defended. The projects under Compostela do not seek to represent the town, but to revise the circumstances surrounding its present. Thus, the CGAC does not forget its mission of contributing to the creation of active contents, with regard to the production of memory. It is involved in the creation of a more complex vision of the identity of this town through the approaches of several of the most acknowledged artists of the contemporary art scene.

With occasion of the exhibition Compostela, the CGAC will present a detailed edition of individual catalogues, a publication including texts by Xerardo Estevez, Miguel Fernandez-Cid, Pablo Gallego and Margarita Ledo and a series of art publications, which complete the publishing news of this project.

Lars Arrhenius (Stockholm, Sweden, 1966) The Street. Computer animation is the technique used by the Swedish artist in this unreleased piece of work, which tells of his pictographic version of everyday events. The Street, made after his stay in Santiago, has one of its main sources of inspiration in Jacques Tati’s cinema. He proposes a series of tales, where sound plays an important role, leading us for 24 hours throughout the Western post-industrial civilization, which also stretches over Compostela.

Gabriele Basilico (Milan, Italia, 1944) Fuoricentro. From the standpoint of a specialized tourist who goes beyond the monumental heritage, Gabriele Basilico proposes a detained look at the territory structured around three axes, which create peripheral urban nuclei. He did not need a lot of time to get familiar with the area through which the town grows, which he visited by car, a means of transport we all use when we live outside the town center. He stems from this idea to portray, rather than the buildings-objects, the consequences of our present lifestyle, when living is less dwelling and more moving between limits.

Roland Fischer (Munich, Germany, 1958) Siza – A Trisca – Polideportivo de Sar. After his individual exhibition at the CGAC, the German photographer was invited to walk around the city in order to capture his personal architectural portrays, condensing and fragmenting architecture, trying to obtain in the portrayed fragment the most intimate peculiarity of the whole building. In this occasion he has based his project on contemporary buildings, such as Hejduk and Siza’s ones.

Gunther Forg (Fussen, Germany, 1952) Alvaro Siza’s School of Journalism – Parque de Bonaval. The project conceived by this German artist, who is a great admirer of depurated architectures, focuses on the architecture designed by Alvaro Siza to shelter the Faculty of Sciences of Communication. When installing his photographs at the CGAC, Forg stages a mirror-window interaction, which stretches the initial concept (Siza’s faculty) to the exhibition rooms in the CGAC. The installation drags the visitor to vertigo by proposing a reflection on the plane and space, on our concepts of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, on the transposition of the spatial over the temporal.

Ruben Ramos Balsa (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1978) Dias solares. This young Galician creator offers a poetic vision of the city from projects stemming from the prolonged exposure – 24, 48 or 72 hours – of his handmade cameras located at different Compostela spots. The images obtained lose their detail and substance, but gain suggestion. Color density is one of his innovations.

Humberto Rivas (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1937) Santiago. Humberto Rivas is the only one of the artists we have gathered who is directly inspired by the environment offered by historical architecture, offering us his peculiar way of treating image. The recipient of the National Photography Prize recovers the idea of photographing the historical core of the town and contributes to the exhibition with a personal melancholic vision of the stone buildings surrounding the cathedral.

Lorna Simpson (Brooklyn, New York, USA, 1960) Corridor. The American artist, who is one of the most controversial presently, invites the spectator to question certain cliches related to feminism, racism or social relations, inciting us to remain alert to the information we recur to in order to legitimize the knowledge we have of the world. The video is located in two emblematic manors: Coffin House, built by the descendents of the first English settlers, known as the Pilgrim Fathers, and Gropius House, built in 1938 by Walter Gropius, founder of the avant-garde Bauhaus.

Montserrat Soto (Barcelona, Spain, 1961) Huellas. The Catalonian artist presents a photographic installation based on images of Compostela’s industrial landscape scenarios, which are exhibited together with other snapshots taken in different places. She reminds us of the fact that beholding the landscape (something which is alive, grows and fights, plays and struggles, which tries to survive and destroys) is an exercise that surpasses the mere act of seeing. It is above all a practice linked to speculation, to deduction. The whole installation is conceived with that aim: combining the history of our gaze with a new experience.

Beat Streuli (Altdorf, Switzerland, 1957). Praza de Galicia. August 03 I-III. Documenting the human presence in urban spaces is the main aim of the work of this Swiss photographer, who, using his video camera, captures with no additional decoration the people converging at a given point of the town, which in this case is Porta da Mamoa. The perception of our singularity amidst a crowd without knowing who is who – essential condition of Streuli’s work – led to an installation in which, for the first time, he is faced with a town of reduced dimensions.

Peter Wuthrich (Berna, Switzerland, 1962) Biblioteca America – Angeles de Compostela. This Swiss artist who reconstructs situations from books presents a photographic project conducted at the America Library in the University of Santiago, complemented by a course along the streets of the old town centre with angels as our guides. Reconstructing situations from books is an artistic manoeuvre conceived by Peter Wuthrich, who, in this case, associates lyricism and satire, material and immaterial patrimonies in a playful reflection on some of the most visible symbols in Santiago de Compostela.”

Image credit: Beat Streuli.

[posted with permission from e-flux]