Lara Almarcegui (1972, ES) renders visible what we otherwise fail to regard, see, register, or notice. She deconstructs in order to uncover, including a view of the utopia of the future. Her projects and interventions question the present state of the world of development and construction, and are designed to instigate a dialogue on the different elements that make up the ever-changing physical form of our urban landscapes.
Shown at ARCO will be a selection of works, including Removal of the Wooden Floor (2011). This poetic work uncovers a quiet process that is concealed from the public; Almarcegui performs the ‘removal of the wooden floor’ and then proceeds to reconstruct it. “The question is not so much: what can I do to improve a certain place?, but rather: what can I learn from this place?” What ultimately occurs is the documentation of a process with an almost invisible outcome. Although it has already come to a conclusion and is no longer accessible, nonetheless it remains present. In a total of exactly fifty images, Almarcegui takes the viewer through the entire process of taking the wooden pieces apart and relaying them, resulting in an almost identical floor. A slide projection on the wall shows two men at work, performing what to them is nothing but a simple daily task. However, the assignment by the artist for them to do this task raises questions on the modern approach of progression, the environmental consequences of economical growth and the elapse from time to space.
The art project Relocated Houses, Wellington (2009) presents 19 houses for sale at Britton’s Yard, which have been relocated from various neighbourhoods in Wellington and its suburbs over recent years. Visiting each of these houses and recounting their histories offers the opportunity to reflect on the urbanisation, construction, transformation and future of the city of Wellington. Arriving at Britton’s Yard, one’s first impression is of a ghost town. Removed from their original contexts, the houses are caught between a distant past and their future reinstatement to another site. While recovering the origins of each house, a range of issues surfaced – concerning heritage, land ownership, the endless subdivision of land, the evolution of regulated urban planning, changing fashions, and the building of luxury homes in the 21st century.
Guide to the Wastelands of the Lea Valley. 12 Empty Spaces Await the London Olympics (2009) is a project during which Almarcegui investigated the land in the Lea Valley just outside London. This is one of the area’s that will be built on for the London Olympics this year and at the time of the artist’s research, the ground was still empty, waiting to be used. Exemplary of an urban void. Almarcegui captured the emptiness of a urban landscape which is about to transform into something else. The photographs are a factual documentation of reality. Almarcegui does not fill the emptiness, she captures it and shows that emptiness is also a possibility.
“I want to question urban planning through the study of places which escape a fixed definition of city or of architecture: empty lots, waste lands, demolition sites; places which due to forgetfulness or lack of interest escape a defined design and are open to all kind of possibilities.”
Lara Almarcegui lives and works in Rotterdam. She studied Fine Arts at the University of Cuenca, and then at Ateliers 63 in Amsterdam. Her works have been shown in several public and private spaces, including: Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2008); Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela (2008); Centre of Contemporary Art, Malaga (2007); the FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon (2004); INDEX, Stockholm (2003). Among her recent solo shows are: Secession, Vienna (2010); Ludlow38, New York (2010); Art Basel – Art Statements with the Gallery Ellen de Bruijne Projects (2010). Her recent group shows include: Taipei Biennale (2010); 3a Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009); 7a Gwangju Biennale (2008); 5th Lofoten International Art Festival, Svolvaer (2008); Greenwashing: Environment: Perils, Promises and Perplexities, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2008); Sharjah Art Biennial 8 (2007); 27a San Paulo Biennale (2006); Biacs2, 2a Seville Biennale (2006); Momentum, Nordic Festival of Contemporary Art, Moss (2006); Offentlig Handling (Public Ac)t, Lunds Konsthall, Lund (2005).
In Jeremiah Day’s (1974, US) work questions of site and historical memory are explored through fractured narratives, employing photography, speech, and improvisational movement. As hybrid form of realism, Day appropriates historical incidents to serve as allegories and examples that might shed insight upon broader philosophical and political questions. It deals with problems of resistance, engaging concrete sites at the intersection between local and global history primarily through performance and photography.
Presented at ARCO is the work Ruin of Memorial For The International Brigades of The Spanish Civil War, Jarama River. Erected 1937, Demolished 1939. (2003-2007)
“Those who have entered it honorably, and no men ever entered earth more honorably than those who died in Spain, already have achieved immortality.”- Ernest Hemingway, On The American Dead In Spain, 1939.
Hemingway’s eulogy focused on the Jarama valley, where the International Brigades joined the Republican troops to defend the crucial supply line to Madrid along the Valencia road. After the improbable Republican victory, this memorial was built to honor the contribution of the international volunteers, and housed the remains of the Brigades’ officer corps who died in the battle. After the fall of the Republic, the memorial was bulldozed and the bodies removed and discarded. Due to strong pro-Franco sentiment in the surrounding towns, the site cannot be served nor publicly marked.
Jeremiah Day was a participant at the Rijksakademie from 2003-4 after moving from Los Angeles. His work has been featured recently in the travelling exhibitions “We All Laughed At Christopher Columbus” at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and Platform Garanti, Istanbul, and “Ground Lost”, Forumstadt Park, Graz, and Galarie Nova, Zagreb. Day will have solo exhibitions in 2008 at Project Arts Centre, Dublin and Arcade Fine Arts, London.
Language, in both its communicative and performative dimension, is at the core of Falke Pisano’s artistic practice. Departing from the premise that the part of an artists practice that is made public consist of moments of communication, whether it’s an object, performance, text, talk or articulation of a position. Language figures as the privileged, inexhaustible medium to make artworks meaningful and significant.
Pisano’s lecture-performances, text-based video’s, objects and photocopied publications are works distinctly induced by the practice of writing. Although mainly text-based, Pisano’s work displays a strong concern with the existence and features of concrete objects, and in particular abstract concrete objects. Using language as a means to re-think the potential of abstraction, sculpture and artistic practice she activates the abstract sculpture as a thought-generating principle and employs the idea of the unstable transforming and disintegrating object as a way to address issues concerning object-qualities, form, construction and engagement.
In the video Studio Lecture 1 (2006) Pisano speaks about the relationship between abstract sculpture and its interpretation. Her discourses analyse the possibility of transforming of monument into conversation, stressing the relationship between sculpture and its audience, before going on to explore the formalisation of what Nelson Goodman called “the representation of a multitude of experiences”. Her sculptures – whether they be animate or inanimate, read or danced, activated by pressing replay or through entering a museum room – try to reveal the nature of sculpting, to draw attention to the importance of the creative process and the mechanisms of the art itself, revealed in a series of situations staged by an alchemist artist torn between the desire to publicly tread the boards and the temptation of anonymity.
Affecting abstraction (2007) consists of three text based performances and deals with the idea of durational object that incorporates its own construction and all the participating elements in its construction. These element scan refer to the creator, the perciever, the story, the structure, the conditions and so on. It relies on the premise that by constructing this linguistic object around a problematic proposition and basing its internal logic on it, conditions are created in which the problematic nature of the proposition dissolves and it becomes possible to write its ‘taking place’. Pisano explores the possibility of implementing a human presence in a hermetic abstract construction of language by performatively outlining how this could be achieved. For this she uses a method of description that leads to a point in which the description of the work becomes transcription of the work. By drawing a work (or an idea of a work) that has no defined medium into its own structure/body, the description/transcription of the construction becomes the medium – rather than language as such.
Recently Pisano introduced a new series of propositions and inquiries that deal with “The Body in Crisis” as an on-going event. In her installation The Body in Crisis (Distance, Repetition, and Representation)(2011) Pisano focuses on historical representations of the human body in moments of crisis, mainly collected caricatures and graphics that she encountered in research and travels over the last year. Following the idea that “the state of emergency we live in is the rule” ( -W. Benjamin- ) Pisano centres her analysis on two things. First, the historical and continuous reiteration of the human body finding itself in moments of crisis, and thus exposing the changing political, social and economic structures that have an impact on the bare condition of human (self-)cognition. Second, Pisano’s propositions formulate an inquiry into the formal possibilities to represent the body in crisis, in the realm of art. Drawing a perspective on these critical movements of de- and reterritorialization of the body and its representation along history, she maps the challenge of affirming that ‘distance’ and ‘repetition’ are as such constitutional for the logic of representation and semiosis in modern and post-modern culture.
This cycle of works are the result of a detailed examination of processes that occur, when ‘objects’ start shifting their form, materiality, meaning, description, understanding, role, or agency. In Pisano’s investigations, all pieces of art, whether objects, performances, texts, videos or interviews, are embedded in a continuous circulation, an ongoing exchange of ideas and forms through time and space – an exchange through which transformation occurs. Like the playful shadows of a perpetual mobile, in this process new figures, new constellations and new meanings are constantly being generated. Pisano, in turn, captures this in language and thereby generates new meanings and new works.
Falke Pisano (NL, 1978) lives and works in Amsterdam and Berlin. Solo exhibitions include Transmission Gallery, Glasgow; Hollybush Gardens, London; Balice Hertling, Paris, Ellen de Bruijne Projects Amsterdam and Grazer Kunstverein (with Benoit Maire), Graz. She was represented in Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009), Modernologies, Macba, Barcelona (2009), Yokohama Triennale, Japan (2008), Word Event, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2008) and Manifesta 7, Trentino (2008).
Type of activity: Performance art
Date: February 17, 2012
Hour: 19:30 h
Place: Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Curator: Chema González
Admission: free admission. Space is limited.
Lenght: 40 min
Language: English, simultaneously interpreted into Spanish
Within the framework of: ARCO 2012. Guest country: Holland and the Escena Contemporánea Festival.
Activity included in: Reactivate/reinterpret. Theatre and performative practices in contemporary art museums
The Body in Crisis (Housing, Treating and Depicting) examines the history of modern medicine in relation to the history of the Sabatini Building (originally a shelter for beggars, it later became a general hospital), linking its history with certain crucial moments in 20th century Spain, which can be found represented in the Museum’s collection. The development of public healthcare in Spain is thus shown to be interwoven with works of the collection that depict bodies in situations of poverty, hunger and war. By doing so, Pisano looks at the ability of representation to pose questions of medicine in direct relation to social and political realities.
The performance takes place within a sculpture installation that acts as an exhibition structure. While the artist reads a text, accompanied by slide show, a second participant hangs a series of images in the installation. While the montage is underway, viewers move around the room. With this set-up, Pisano draws attention to questions related to semiosis in representational space, as created in the museum but also in artistic practices that deal with certain moments in history.
After several years dedicated to her series Figures of Speech (2005-2010), Falke Pisano recently introduced a new series of propositions and inquiries that look at the body in crisis as an ongoing event. Taking the idea of Walter Benjamin, according to which the state of emergency we live in is the rule, the artist focuses on two questions: first, she analyses the historical and continuous reiteration of the human body finding itself in moments of crisis, thus exposing the changing political, social and economic structures. Secondly, she formulates an inquiry into the formal possibilities of depicting the body in crisis in the realm of art. The work of Falke Pisano therefore has a lot to do with modernity conceived as a long process in continual transformation, determined by the life experiences from which it is viewed, the succession of artistic objects over time and the transformation of structures of communication and perception.