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Monument. Lladres de filferro, 2012

Monument. Wire Thieves, 2012
Installation, Various dimensions

Monument. Lladres de filferro takes as its point of reference the work of a significant figure in outsider and popular art in Catalonia, Josep Pujiula. As in other of Jordi Mitjà’s works, this installation is closely linked to a specific geographic location. In this case, Mitjà took as his starting point the park of Can Sis Rals, in Argelaguer, a small municipality in La Garrotxa (Girona, Spain), where for more than thirty years Josep Pujiula (Argelaguer, 1937–2016) worked on a unique land art installation.

A lathe operator by profession and with no art world connections, Pujiula kept building and re-building a large-scale sculpture park, together with some very personal constructions, in the forest of Can Sis Rals, using materials such as rope, cloth, iron and tree trunks. These were ephemeral constructions, half-way between sculpture and architecture, such as huts, watchtowers, stairs, labyrinthine corridors, towers constructed from objects, etc. Juan Antonio Ramírez included the work of this outsider artist in his essay Escultecturas margivagantes. La arquitectura fantástica en España.

Based on Pujiula’s constructions and with the intention of perverting the normal use of the museum space, Mitjà built an exhibition-laboratory with three different sections. On the one hand, a central space with a large wooden platform with various items on it and a small storage area for raw materials. A brick wall separates these two sections, with the side of the wall facing the wooden platform presenting a smoothly-finished surface, and the side facing the storage area still showing crudely rendered cement and unevenly-placed bricks acting as small shelves. This ‘dirty’ side of the wall is a reference to the type of ramshackle farm buildings that can still be found in the Empordà, where the artist lives and works. This is where Mitjà installs the materials collected in the forest of Argelaguer and other places. Finally, at the sides of the room is a third section designed as a small workshop that can be seen but not accessed because some logs block our entry.

In this set of multiple elements, a large platform made of rough wood invites the public to enter, as suggested by the small step located on one side. On this platform, Mitjà has installed a forest of sculptures reminiscent of Pujiula’s works in Argelaguer: chairs, a tractor seat, the skeleton of a rifle, wood from the huts of Argelaguer, boots, a Roman scale and a bust of Berruga, a carnivalesque figure from Figueres, among others.

When the installation was presented for the first time as part of the Perplexity cycle, held at the Espai 13 of the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, in 2012, the artist worked there in situ for the duration. Without prior announcement, visitors to Espai 13 would sometimes find him in the small space between the brick wall and the gallery walls, manipulating raw materials. This generated surprise but also a certain complicity, with visitors being able to ask questions and talk to the artist, while he kept working and developing the installation by changing the objects on the wooden platform throughout the run of the exhibition.

Evoking the work of the Can Sis Rals forest artist, Mitjà creates his installation with waste and recycled materials taken from the forest of Can Sis Rals, as well as other geographical points that hold special significance for him, such as the ruined buildings of the Club Med at Cap de Creus or the AVE railway-building works near Figueres. Also included in the work is a documentary video with images of Josep Pujiula’s forest sculptures.

Mitjà explains the contraposition between high and popular culture underlying his installation in the following way:

‘I’d known about the work of Pujiula for years and was absolutely fascinated by the way he worked with the available materials. How he built with the excess concrete from road works, and all the fountains and water pipes that flowed into Argelaguer, making those works possible. That’s the reason why I wanted a source of water in the Espai 13 of the Fundació Joan Miró, with a tap on the side of the false wall to wash my hands or have water ready for my constructions.
Other influences for this project are popular culture and the “poor” sculpture that’s been made in Catalonia throughout the twentieth century. I think our art has always had a predilection for these popular and “poor” creations, hence the carnivalesque figure from Figueres, the pieces of concrete or the broken ceramic tiles, to name but a few.

I see this installation as a reflection on the unusual creations of “outsider” artists, as well as anonymous craftsmen who build objects, architectures and artefacts, without belonging to the world of art and design. I wanted to make a very clear separation between high and popular culture, as I pointed out in a very graphic way with a piece in the installation: a “Capilla” fireplace by José Antonio Coderch de Sentmenat, made to my scale, with wood ready to burn from the forest of Can Sis Rals in Argelaguer: high culture about to burn popular culture.’
Jordi Mitjà, 2019

Technical details

Original title:
Monument. Lladres de filferro
Registration number:
Mitjà, Jordi
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan
Object type:
Various dimensions
Various dimensions
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan. National Collection of Contemporary Art
© Jordi Mitjà
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