Time as Matter
MACBA Collection. New acquisitions 22
In the mid 1960s, the relationship between the spectator, the artwork and its reception underwent a radical reconfiguration. This change was linked to a new conception of time, which would become the fundamental material of artworks. Music, dance, film and theatre – eminently time-based arts – began to make inroads into contemporary art, and their techniques, media and languages merged with those of painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture.
This probing of the boundaries of temporality in art, together with a reflection on the ever-changing connections between the avant-garde and Classicism, were the main themes of Time as Matter, a selection of around 320 works by 80 artists from the MACBA Collection. Highlights included works by Ignasi Aballí, Judith Barry, León Ferrari, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Richard Hamilton, Sanja Ivekovic, Franz Kline, Katalin Ladik, David Lamelas, Rita McBride, Robert Motherwell, Matt Mullican, Deimantas Narkevicius, Palle Nielsen, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Pablo Palazuelo, Joan Rabascall, Benet Rossell, Antoni Tàpies, Lawrence Weiner and Gil J Wolman.
Related activities included The Uncertainty Principle, an extensive programme of screenings, performances and lectures at Capella MACBA, including an installation conceived by Tobias Putrih; and the exhibition On the Margins of Art. Creation and political engagement at the MACBA Study Center, which presented a selection of posters, magazines, postcards and other printed materials in which creation joined forces with political struggle.
The exhibition Time as Matter will occupy three floors in the museum from May 15 to August 31, though the works on Floor 0 will be on public view from May until the end of 2009.
With a view to showing the works acquired by the MACBA Collection in the last two years, as yet unseen in that context, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art devotes all of its exhibition space to its collections: the three floors of the Museum, the Capella dels Àngels and the exhibition hall in the Studies and Documentation Centre. The MACBA Collection has not been shown in its entirety since 2005, when some 160 works tracing a chronological reading of the Museum's own collections from the nineteen-fifties to the present day were exhibited on its three floors. Now, the Meyer building joins the two new spaces incorporated in recent years: the Capella (September 2006) and the Documentation Centre (December 2007).
Outstanding among the new works acquired by the Collection which are shown in the exhibition is a key piece in recent art history: Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971, by Hans Haacke, acquired jointly with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. With this new addition, the MACBA initiates a new system of joint acquisitions and common policies with other institutions. Moreover, the exhibition will bring together significant groups of works by Pablo Palazuelo and Gego, deposited in the MACBA by the Pablo Palazuelo Foundation of Madrid and the Gego Foundation, in Caracas.
Important donations are also included, such as that made by León Ferrari, who has presented the MACBA with five works from the eighties which were exhibited at the 2007 Documenta exhibition in Kassel, as were the magnificent photographic murals Shipwreckand Workers (2005-07), a donation from Alan Sekula.
The exhibition features presentation of the priority lines of interest and research at the MACBA in this new stage, initiated in 2008. While over recent years the Collection has started to gather together documents that function as works of art (Grup de Treball, Tucumán Arde (Tucuman is Burning), works by collectives of artists and activists and so on), this has not implied forgoing the collection of great works by significant artists of our time. Alongside the abundance of fragments, it is important to consolidate nuclei of singular and complementary works that can express discourses on the nature of artistic creation and the historical moment in which we live. The MACBA is ideally placed to build a collection which explains the passing from the 20th to the 21st century, which begins with formulations of the final utopias of the last century and speaks of its crises, and then follows the present century, with its complexities and contradictions.
"La Ricarda" and an intervention by Renata Lucas in the Capella
At the initiative of Belgium artist Michel François, in July of 2006 thirteen artists (Joerg Bader, Joël Benzakin, Lucia Bru, Jordi Colomer, François Curlet, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Pierre Droulers, Ann Veronica Janssens, Simon Siegmann, Loïc Vanderstichelen, Richard Venlet and Ángel Vergara) occupied la Casa Gomis, known as La Ricarda.
Designed by architect Antonio Bonet, La Ricarda (1949-1963) is a key work in the renovation of architectural language in Spain. Though influenced by structural and aesthetic realism, this work entailed a new adherence to the principles of rationalist architecture.
Based on the concept of Michel François and Jean-Paul Jacquet, the aim of the gathering at La Ricarda was to explore a different way of making a film in a specific setting. Choreographers, video artists, visual artists and musicians contributed to creating the different chapters of this film essay. Different materials were brought together to bring back to life a house that had been a gathering place of intellectuals in the sixties and seventies and that was later relegated to silence partly due to its unfortunate proximity to the airport.
The installation on exhibit in the Capella starting on July 4 is a large montage; it consists of an array of elements, though the film is the cornerstone of the exhibition. Fifteen film projectors make reference to the process of staging. The work of Michel François, which is a feature of the installation, serves to regulate and balance the darkness necessary to see the film and the light that allows the viewer to make out the large number of elements in the installation. The inventory –état des lieux– is another key feature of the piece: a large table with a photographic archive containing the features of La Ricarda's architecture and furniture. With approximately four thousand images, this selection allows visitors to "reconstruct" the house, that is, to recompose it in their own way. Lastly, the installation contains a series of monitors displaying images and sequences edited out of the film.
The installation as a whole reflects on the possibility of multiplying points of view and on the very idea of montage. The film is not the final outcome, but one of the possible outcomes of an experiment in which a place, La Ricarda, interacts with a community of artists. The process is still open: it is here, at the Capella, and now, at the moment that each of us enters into the piece, that the story can begin again or take a 360-degree turn.
On exhibit along with La Ricarda is an intervention specifically conceived for the Capella by Renata Lucas. The piece will become part of MACBA's permanent collection. From the beginning, Renata Lucas's work has been concerned with establishing a dialogue with the urban context and with architecture. It is hard to call her work sculpture, installation or architecture… Her works are often bound to the space in which they act, allowing once-invisible elements to be seen from a new perspective. This piece proposes something similar, though within the exhibition space. The origin and function of the space differ from its current use, and hence entering into a dialogue with it entails investigating the limits and possibilities of a terrain that brings together many different cultural and architectural codes. The work analyzes the basic notions that constitute the space, the walls and the floor, as well as tectonic elements. It also interrogates light, a factor that determines whether or not the space can be perceived.
Curators: Bartomeu Marí and Antònia Maria Perelló Production: Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).