Cinema, performance, lectures video and audio

Located in the MACBA Chapel, The Uncertainty Principle is an intensive programme that through lectures, performances, films, videos and artists' presentations will analyse the many different ways of generating a hypothesis. Tackling a problem involves constructing one or more ideas that help us to think about the nature of what we call the world. Judged from this perspective, contemporary artistic production offers itself as a major opening for speculating about different aspects of the world, its sentient aspect, its political dimension, its ability to establish relationships between things, between subjects and matter, and so on. In short, to think about and generate ideas – ideas that appear to us in the most distinct forms – is art's great virtue.

In 1969, the American artist James Lee Byars developed a performance piece entitled The World Question Center. The original idea, which was not brought to fruition, entailed gathering one hundred brilliant minds including thinkers, scientists and artists together in a room, locking them behind closed doors and inviting them to ask each other questions they had been asking themselves. The final version of this project, produced for Belgian Radio and Television, is a performance piece in which Byars contacts all of them by telephone.

This project sets out from the same starting point: the importance of maintaining a space for raising questions and generating hypotheses. The titles of the four strands of this unusual debate, for which we wish to transform the La Capella museum space for the period of one month, are drawn from Byars' oeuvre. His work is among the collection's new acquisitions and is to feature at the forefront of each assemblage of works in the programme.

The MACBA Chapel space has been transformed for the occasion by another artist, Tobias Putrih. His work involves analysing and producing ephemeral architecture which develops the notion of actor-spectator bequeathed by modernity and the avant-garde. As part of the Tobias Putrih collection, he has produced a piece especially for the programme which we wish to carry out for the museum space.

The presentation of the MACBA Collection is the ideal framework for propitiating an environment in which to be exposed to the huge effort of reflection that artistic, sculptural or scientific creation entails. Pascal claimed that we are thinking reeds, gloriously singular and gloriously vulnerable. Our models of thought and action have as many possibilities as they do forms, and as a result one of the big challenges we have to face resides, on the one hand, in creating and maintaining spaces in which we try out ideas, and on the other, in generating situations that might favour their transmission. The future is but the exercising of thought.


The MACBA Chapel, from 11 am to 5.30 pm. Tuesdays, closed

What are you thinking about?
14 to 24 May

This is a simple, direct question introducing a set of works which, in one way or another, are connected with the notion of introspection, with the world experienced by oneself. All of them take pleasure in the potential alternatives to solipsism. It is very hard – yet necessary – to think about the existence of an interlocutor and to be guided by the abstract imagination of that diffuse figure without losing a sense of intimacy. However, things only have a life when they are capable of looking up and looking back at the person looking at them.

This sections revolves around two works acting as the pivot for the daytime programme: Bach Whistled, a 45-minute audio piece created by the American artist Adrian Piper, and Jorgen Leth's short film The Perfect Human, on which Lars von Trier constructs The Five Obstructions, five variations of the original film in which Leth must stick to the limitations imposed by von Trier.

Works by James Lee Byars, Adrian Piper, Jorgen Leth, Babette Mangolte, Antoni Padrós, Samuel Beckett/Alan Schneider, John Baldessari, Johan Grimonprez and Paul Sharits.

Is self-consciousness a sufficient option?
25 to 31 May

Self-awareness is that mental state in which one knows about oneself. It is a sort of clair¬voyance that has troubled art, philosophy and politics alike. We propose a programme devoted to the exploration of the boundaries and potential of this state of grace. The works brought together in this chapter cover all types of devices aimed at raising the boundaries of this state of second-sighted rationality. Normality becomes here the ref¬uge of the impoverished; while the active interruption of such normality is portrayed as a method for thought, since reality is never uniform.

Works by Susan Hiller, Michael Snow, Bruce Nauman, Adrian Piper, Dan Graham, Martha Rosler, Robert Filliou, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, James Lee Byars and David Lamelas.

Why is it so difficult to make useful mistakes?
1 to 7 June

Sacrificing mistakes would be like sacrificing the excitement of the unforeseeable. To err means to wander, to set off on a journey in which reason deviates from a plot of well-argued logic, usually as a result of the desire to come across something unexpected. This section's programme is full of ingenious events and circumstances, some of which are pretty much out of this world. The common denominator for all the works and pre¬sentations is the ongoing need to err and wander, which fundamentally generates new reasoning, ideas and images.

Works by Ann Lislegaard, Craig Baldwin, Matt Mullican, James Lee Byars and a video series curated by Latitudes featuring: Jordan Wolfson, Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska, Chris Marker, Marjolijn Dijkman and Mariana Castillo Deball.

How fast does an idea travel?
8 to 14 June

We all agree that thinking is important. The question is how. It is an action whose purpose we cannot ignore (the defence of reason and, therefore, the sense of things), yet whose nature we do not understand. The final programming segment focuses on philosophy and the science of thought, to which we are apparently unable to attach any use, yet without which we would not be able to think about the complexity of the world around us. This set of works confronts us with simple questions: What is an idea? How do we get from a known idea to another partially or totally new one?

Works by Roberto Cuoghi, Susan Philipsz, Olaf Breuning, Luke Fowler, Raymond Pettibon, James Lee Byars and a video series curated by WHW featuring: David Maljkovic, Dmitry Vilensky, Tigran Khachatryan, Mounira Al Solh, Shahab Fotouhi and Katarina Zdjelar.

The MACBA Chapel from 7 pm

In conversation with:
Friday 15 May, Rita McBride
Monday 18 May, Matt Mullican
Tuesday 26, May, 18 h, Johan Grimonprez, organised in conjunction with LOOP
Thursday 28 May, 18 h, Harun Farocki, organised in conjunction with LOOP
Thursday 4 June, Antonio Acín
Monday 8 June, Deimanta Narkevicius

Saturday 16 May, Discoteca Flaming Star
Saturday 23 May, double feature with Miguel Noguera and Gabriel Acevedo, an idea by PORLAVENA
Friday 29 May, performance by Dora García
Friday 5 June, Ultrashow by Miquel Noguera
Friday 12 June, Spinoza Mondial Reading Performance by Joe Koelewijn and Manuel Klappe

Thursday 21 May, The Five Conditions (2003) by Jorgen Leth and Lars Von Trier
Tuesday 26 May, 18 h, Double take (2009), by Johan Grimonprez, spanish premiere
Friday 12 June, video series featuring interviews with philosophers

Free-to-air radio
Radio sessions moderated by David Casacuberta, 7 pm

Wednesday 20 May with Vena (Por La)
Wednesday 27 May with Anselm Franke
Wednesday 3 June, Night of the Zombies, with Lars Bang Larsen
Wednesday 10 June with Latitudes

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 412 14 13
programespublics [at] macba [dot] cat




RWM Son[i]a: Interview to Chus Martínez on "The Uncertainty Principle"