Roger Amat, Projecteblanc, 2008
Guillem Torrent, Noves formes d’utilizació del sòl en el món rural, 2008
Nashla Abdelnour, Impresiones, 2008
Manel Ferrer, Huida al Blanco, 2005
Nerea Bilbao, Voladizo de la Concha, 2008
Permeable: el significat és promiscu
"Permeable: The meaning is mixed"
18.12.08 – 31.01.09
“Permeable: meaning is promiscuous” is an exhibition that explores semantic flexibility through the use of “tags”1 applied to a body of works created by students from L’Escola Massana. Alluding to the fact that modernity is a concept of change and transience, the selection of works investigates several forms of permeability in the context of art. At a time when the tendency is to launch products to generate maximum impact only to fall into immediate obsolescence, in the context of art we find that there is a prevalence of meaning over the volatility of the production processes. However, this prevalence of meaning should not be taken as an absolute truth, since the meaning itself is capable of projecting and transforming; it is plural, open and flexible; it is a promuscuous meaning that operates like a channel of communication and thought.
In the exhibition, each piece is presented under a series of key words resulting from talks between the curatorial team – which also included students from the school – and artists. The key words are “tags”, which define the conceptual framework and operate like open borders in terms of the way in which the exhibition is perceived. The use of “tags” has allowed an exhibition model to be developed along the lines of a dynamic archive which, combined with the invitation for visitors to take part by reviewing and reconsidering the proposals, expands the legitimisation processes originating from the discourse. The porosity of collective labelling allows the works to be redefined under similarities and differences that may not have been considered previously. It also allows unusual links to be tracked, which may add a lot of value to the meanings in use.
The multi-disciplinary production of the works creates an atmosphere of encounter that facilitates the development of a new symbolic construction. This production process was negotiated with students in two ways: firstly during lesson time at the school through a programme combining visual art, design and applied art, and secondly through appropriation of the context in which the students move. Roger Amat’s Projecteblanc is a work that very closely explores the process of transformation and construction of an object’s meaning. In this work the spectator becomes a co-producer, playing a fundamental part in the creation of the production’s script. Very reminiscent of Situationist practices, the spectator’s entry into this work is a provocation on the one hand, by looking for the impetus of the action, and a realisation and re-appropriation of the symbols at stake on the other.
Alejandra Solar’s Sin Título and Nerea Bilbao’s Voladizo de la Concha are two works with appropriation and reinterpretation at their core. The first work comprises ten pieces of sculptural jewellery in which she juxtaposes a series of contrasts taken from appropriated images that evoke Mexican syncretism in a new version of the altarpiece. Voladizo de la Concha is a sculptural architectural project that transforms a residual space into one of contemplation. Here, Nerea appropriates an image of the past and draws it on the new proposal, using integration as if it were a tool for giving new spatial meaning and identifying the stroller with the stroll itself.
Anna Oyarzún’s Des-mudar-se is an installation that also ponders identity and the way you present yourself to yourself and to others, thereby making reference to Erving Goffman’s sociological theory. With this significant poetic charge, the work proposes the various layers that can be used to question the boundaries of the individual on the one hand, and to construct the identity of someone who has been there on the other. In this sense, Anna explores an individual’s ability for self-transformation, and suggests the idea of a permeable body as if it were a palimpsest.
In Nashla Abdelnour’s video Impresiones, the image of the palimpsest is also evident, although here she investigates the way in which a memory is produced. In this work, Nashla does not attempt to delve into the past. Instead, she tries to represent the subjective way in which the past becomes the present. Furthermore, she wonders what is more important in terms of the recollection: either experiencing the event itself or the way in which it is recalled. Together with Clip, Irene Mercader’s short film, the two works provide a series of narrative guidelines for a story that can be told. In both instances, the account is incomplete: only an inkling of it can be perceived through a sequence of fragmented, everyday images in search of some possible connecting link.
Enric Farrés’s Universal and Noemí Vilaró’s La lluna en un cove are good examples of the multi-disciplinary nature of L’Escola Massana’s programme. La lluna en un cove explores the meaning of the materials from which it is made - ceramics and felt. The symbolism of these materials make reference to the earth and to manual work; contrapuntally, the title of the work references the intangiability of the moon and sky. This encounter between symbolic and poetic provides a third sense, latent in the work, in which illusions and desire seem to guide the experience.
Universal, which draws on the visual arts, design and artist’s books, is a reflection on the relationships between an element, its context and the set to which it belongs. This work explores the intersection between language and form: it places the reader in a critical situation to stop giving meaning to the element in question. This exploration of the contextual meaning of such relationships gives rise to the question that Ludwig Wittgenstein asked: “What is an explanation of the meaning of a word; what does the explanation of a word look like?”
The poetry in Manel Ferrer’s work Huida al blanco interestingly counters the theme of permeability in this exhibition. His work, which tries to avoid any external contamination and whose epitome is a hermetic purity of white representing a series of interior spaces, is at one and the same time potentially transformable. As Giorgio Agamben has explained, “potentiality is the presence of an absence”, and thus, in the fascination for pure-white, there is a twist: the interiors become spaces from which various forms and meanings emerge.
Guillem Torrent’s Noves formes d’utilització del sòl en el món rural is a sustainable housing proposal based on multi-purpose use of rural land in the Empordà countryside. Guillem reappraises the work done by the area’s farmers to establish an equitable relationship between agricultural work and detrimental forms of summer tourism. The proposal of alternating the two forms of land use is resolved with a temporary hut made mostly from hay bales, thus benefiting the region’s farmers and establishing a new model of consumption for rural tourism. This project, which refers to the ideas of Buckminster Fuller and Glen Murcutt, among others, realises the critical need for certain practices and establishes strategies and models that challenge the limits of design. For Guillem, when a house is occupied, it is yet another element of permeable-use construction.
In exploring the possibility of social art, Por compasión by Diego Gutiérrez, who also took part in curating this exhibition, investigates one-to-one dialogue, which is more effective when it comes to bringing about change than a patronising, argumentative relationship. In this project, which is still a work in progress, the inconvenience of the use of art is taken as a tool for transformation. Diego develops a relationship that is explicitly utilitarian with his very sick, manipulative and lonely neighbour in order to develop the issues that interest him in relation to the possibility of social art.
The exhibits in “Permeable: meaning is promiscuous” are not only a showcase of the work done at L’Escola Massana, but also an indication of worries and concerns in contemporary creation, where irony, subversion and disobedience coalesce with existentialism, social awareness and everyday utopia. The exhibition makes no attempt at establishing consensus. Rather, it causes a conflict between common and divergent nodes so that they can act as a support for experience and new readings. The mix of meaning is linked to the use of “tags”, whose use can continuously redefine the meaning of things and shift towards a more democratic definition. By showing the “tags” and the relationships established between the works and the exhibition space at La Capella so that visitors can think about them, redefine them and question them, some of the curatorial decisions become obvious. To that end, a space has been set aside for visitors to add their own “tags” to the works on display and re-examine the references used to establish the meanings in use. The materials collected from visitors’ interventions will subsequently be used in a publication that will analyse and demonstrate the permeability of the works.
In this exhibition, permeability is also considered to be an attitude; an attitude to take when establishing active value criteria in relation to the works exhibited, looking at the promiscuity of semantic labelling and the transformation of visitor into user. This displacement towards the figure of the user is a strategic movement modifying “critical distance”. From this point on, the user can challenge the elasticity of the proposed associations and jeopardise the resistance of the meanings in use – but only if his or her reflection is an extension of the exhibition produced.
Add a “tag”: Participate!
The exhibition entitled “Permeable: meaning is promiscuous” proposes an open investigation into the semantic flexibility of 11 works. Visitors to the hall are invited to participate via two strategies: one physical and one digital.
Next to the placard for each work, you will find a Dymo marking pen with which you will be able to write down the “tags” that you consider relevant for the work in question and add them to the others.
At the end of the exhibition’s route, we have prepared a space with computers and books. On the computers you’ll find the exhibition’s blog, to which you’ll also be able to enter “tags” for each work and for the exhibition. The blog has a page of references which, together with the books, have been made available so you may consider and reflect on the content of the works and the curator’s project in general. In the projection at the end of the hall, you will be able to observe how the cloud of “tags” changes to the extent that you participate.
You’ll be able to add as many “tags” as you wish to the placards and the blog, repeat the same “tag”, and introduce “tags” that have already been added by other visitors. Later, we will collect this information to produce a publication with new conclusions on the permeability and semantic flexibility of the works selected for the exhibition.