Mar negro, 2013

Black Sea, 2013
Installation, 400 x 800 cm

An artist who takes collective pain and human geographic journeys as his subject matter, Carlos Aires’ Mar negro is one of his most ambitious installations. It takes the form of a platform made with strips of wood painted in different colours and arranged like the herringbone pattern typical of parquet floors. The wooden tiles are loose and installed in a random combination, although always geometrically. The fact that the wood is recycled invites visitors to walk on the surface of the piece. Initially, the installation stands out for its formal beauty, colour and texture, but the accompanying video, showing the origin of the wooden pieces, soon challenges any formal reading, charging the work symbolically.

Aires has salvaged wood from the remains of abandoned dinghies and cayucos found on the Spanish coast: in particular, the boat graveyard in Cádiz, where many of the vessels used in the illegal transportation of immigrants end up. The viewer, walking on this impeccably geometric wooden surface, soon discovers that it has been constructed with the remains of illegal boats in which people from the African continent have tried, successfully or not, to make the European dream a reality, thus linking the formal qualities of the piece in a direct and material way to the human tragedy experienced in the Mediterranean in recent years. ‘It’s not easy to accept that you’re casually walking on a wooden floor made up of the remains of dinghies and cayucos from the largest graveyard in the world for boats used in illegal transportation. Especially since it is so outrageously beautiful.’ (Javier Díaz-Guardiola: ‘Meter la herida en el dedo’, ABC Cultural, 13 March 2017). At the end of the video, the subtle sound of a Moroccan radio is heard as a reference to African immigration, reinforced by the title of the work.

Technical details

Original title:
Mar negro
Registration number:
Aires, Carlos
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Recycled wood from boats used for illegal immigration coming from Africa or abandoned in Cadiz and single-channel video, colour,sound, 6 min 30 s
400 x 800 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Work purchased thanks to Havas Group
© Carlos Aires, VEGAP, Barcelona
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Accessibility resources
Audio description

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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