The idea that art holds the capacity to carry out a cognitive mapping of a world-system that has become ever more complex and determinant remains a compelling one. Art can then be understood as a tool with which to sketch out “cartographies of the absolute” in order to provide much-needed aesthetic and political orientation. But the panorama is an apparatus for total vision. It produces an image that remains inaccessible to our bodies, devoid of obstacles or interruptions. It presupposes a privileged location for the viewer from which to take command of what lies under its gaze, a gaze not constrained by bodily limits, which abstracts while hierarchising. This is the gaze – both totalizing and hierarchical – that has always characterised the modern art museum. In this sense, the museum shares the intimate connection of cartographic technologies (including the panorama) with modern processes of surveillance, submission, and domination and, in particular, with their colonial instances. There is no other exhibition format today where the panoramic impulse and the spectre of the colonial remain so present as in the biennial.
Hence the “[contra]” (counter) of this new edition of Panorama does not signal an antagonism, but the oscillation between a panorama and its counter-plane. Given the necessity of orientation and the impossibility of tracing a continuous thread from particularity to totality, [contra]panorama tries to abandon the metaphorical watchtower of the biennial format in order to look from other positions: interstitial zones that point towards the transition between inside and outside, between different scales of thought and action.
[contra]panorama is a year-long, collaborative research programme that will use the extensive archive of projects and questions historically generated from MACBA and its most immediate context, opening them up to a dialogue with a whole series of cultural agents including, among others: Elena Blesa, Antonio Gagliano, Dora García, Albert Gironés, Nicolas Malevé, Montserrat Moliner, Julia Montilla, Verónica Lahitte, Eva Paià, Marina Ribot and Jara Rocha.
[contra]panorama will take place between February 2024 and the end of 2025 with different speeds, intensities and formats. Conceived by Alicia Escobio (Public Programmes, MACBA), Yaiza Hernández Velázquez (Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths), Yolanda Jolis (Education, MACBA), Anna Ramos (Ràdio Web MACBA) and Isaac Sanjuan (Education, MACBA) with the collaboration of Zaida Trallero (Exhibitions, MACBA) and Meritxell Colina (Exhibitions, MACBA).