Un segle Breu: Col·lecció MACBA

Sales 11 i Torre

Recent art has focused on the critique of economic relations governed by neoliberalism, globalisation and simultaneously has examined the human relations that are dominated by geo-politics and unequal distributions of power. In our transnational economy the open sea is an economic space for the mobility of material goods, but it is also a contested space fraught with social and political debate. While commodities travel aboard container ships with ease, the mobility of people is curtailed despite circumstances of persecution and violence. A stark linguistic and conceptual contrast is drawn between those who are designated economic migrants or refugees.

Artists have variously focused on the maritime economy through the transport of natural gas; the precariousness of the sea through the material remains of the migration crisis, reshaped into a parquet floor; or the interplay of capitalism, labour and politics through captions from news photographs that attest resistance movements worldwide against unjust economic policies, abuse of power and political repression.

In his work , Colombian artist Marcos Ávila Forero investigates contemporary neo-imperialism. For the video Un pechiche para Benkos, he commissioned a handmade pechiche, a drum with which slave communities sent encrypted messages, and asked Congolese musicologist Émile Biayenda to tell a story, which concerns the journey of two migrants, using these ancient codes. The sound of the percussive drum creates a hypnotic effect that combines the experiences of the two men: one a historical figure and the other a modern migrant. They are identified as Camara Mwa Abdallaye, who tries to cross the contemporary Mediterranean hidden in a ‘cayuco’, and Benkos Biohó, a slave and leader of the first movement of Colombian emancipation, who died in 1622. Although they correspond to two different historical moments, the parallels show that the current migration phenomenon repeats and reproduces the experiences of past centuries. For both characters, hidden in the hull of the ship, the sound of the waves turns the boat into a resonant box.

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