This presentation from the MACBA Collection at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea (Seoul) is the result of the research that has given form over the last few years to the museum's programmes. It encompasses the entire chronological span of the Collection, beginning in the second half of the 20th century and continuing through today and includes works from Catalan, Spanish and international artists from various generations. It has been structured according to themes that express the tension between classicism and the spirit of rupture in the art of our time: the construction of an altered modernity that is resistant to Anglo-Saxon and Eurocentric cultural, aesthetic, and political canons.
The notion that the Twentieth Century was the century of the image has long been discounted. In fact, it was a period during which the production of images moved from the realm of artists-craftspeople to that of industries using sophisticated technology – photography, cinema and television. The printed media, like the digital media today, exponentially multiplied the existence and circulation of images, to such an extent that they insinuated themselves into the dance of the senses characteristic of the ‘modern world' – sound, music, the spoken word and its shadow, writing.
The MACBA Collection develops the hypothesis of an unconsciously verbal artistic culture. The verbal plane is not just a counterpoint to inert materiality in the ‘visual arts'; it also acts as a wedge that plays a decisive part in changing the paradigm of representation and the role of the perceiver in all artistic relationships. Speech is a unique, unrepeatable action that takes place in a here-and-now that cannot be prolonged.
The Shadow of Speech marks a profound change in the type of relationship that works of art establish with us, its recipients, and in how we see their mutual relationship today, or, in other words, in our view of one of the basic conditions of all works of art: in material terms, works of art can be inert and remain unaltered over the course of time, but they can also order time for us because they are premised on a specific time span. Time forms an essential part of a certain type of work, in just the same way as any other constituent material. We are embarking on a journey through the works of this collection, this collection we are reinventing, and our route will offer us numerous examples of the tensions between inertia and dynamics, and of how breaks with the past form our new traditions.
Excesses and deficiencies of modernity, approaches to and withdrawals from the present, entrances to and exits from the real – the various facets offered here by the MACBA Collection constitute a landscape that has been sown for some time. It runs from works from the new classicisms to apparently disconcerting recent arrivals, and it is marked by a continuous accumulation of stories and subjects arranged in strata, revealing the recent past in the same way as they will continue to invent futures.
13 JULY - 03 OCT. 2010 Nacional Museum of Contemporary Art of Korea, Seul