• Against democracy in art

    Sébastien Planas
    Núria Güell, "Afrodita", 2017.
    Núria Güell, "Afrodita", 2017.
    Art is not democratic, neither in its creation nor in its reception. Democracy in art is the median choice. On the contrary, art is interesting when it is radical, when it embodies singular, subjective, unexpected choices, choices that are disturbing and inconceivable to those who must decide on its eventual exhibition. Let us not give examples. Art must hurt, and one does not choose democratically what hurts. Moreover, we do not choose it, we endure it. Democracy is lukewarm, art burns or freezes. Can citizens understand the need for fire or ice?
  • Kendell Geers , "#NEW Speak (Entertain The Masses), 2019.
    Kendell Geers , "#NEW Speak (Entertain The Masses), 2019.
    After many meetings, a lot of time and a lot of effort, I have the feeling that we are still trapped in a recurrent and insubstantial loop that repeats, over and over again, the same discourses, the same (im)postures, the same lack of efficiency, the same inaction. We always sit around similar tables, with similar individuals who say similar things while seeming to listen to us. Let no one think that all this is accidental, that so much rhetorical redundancy and so much passive bureaucracy is due to random, to the conjunction of the stars or to the direction in which the wind is blowing, not at all. Nor is it the consequence of the crisis, the war or the bloody pandemic, even if we now want to blame it all on the fucking coronavirus; don't fool yourselves, that is not what it is about. In truth, this ineffectiveness that affects cultural policies and that emanates directly from the ruling classes (those who have the code of domination and the capacity to change the situation) responds to biased, partisan objectives that have been tortiously planned from those in power. It is not just that they don't know how to do things, that could be fixed, it is simply that they don't want to, it doesn't suit them, nor is it in their interest.
  • mounir fatmi, "Calligraphy of Fire", 2015.
    mounir fatmi, "Calligraphy of Fire", 2015.
    Esmé Weijun Wang tells us that she is the author of about a hundred photos. The meagre number surprises and moves us in an age of compulsive overproduction and exchange. Most of them are self-portraits, images of shadows, long winters. Landscapes. She has taken some of them using a Polaroid SX-70; others, with a Contax T2. She has never exhibited them; we only know of them from the description she gives towards the end of Todas las esquizofrenias (Sexto Piso, Graywolf Press Prize) (The Collected Schizophrenias), his autobiographical account of this ailment, to which have been added, in different and often contradictory diagnoses, bipolar disorder and chronic Lyme disease –one of the diseases that remain outside Obamacare and which drive most patients into debt, if not ruin.
  • María María Acha-Kutscher, "Womankind. Serie 4. 1", 2013.
    María María Acha-Kutscher, "Womankind. Serie 4. 1", 2013.
    This Easter I found time to read How to Do Nothing by the American writer and artist Jenny Odell. With an extremely appealing title for a holiday, it is the subtitle Resisting the Attention Economy what specifically interested me most. Much has been written about our obsession with productivity and profit, but not so much about the consequences of the exhaustion produced by it. Bifo talks about the psychotic collapse of the Western mind, particularly after the pandemic; of the difficulty of an encounter between bodies, with an organic time and space in which to be able to think in common horizons of equality, or even of rebellion and protest.
  • Avelino Sala, "Black Rain Ethereum", 2022.
    Avelino Sala, "Black Rain Ethereum", 2022.

    CryptoArt is based on a digital resource that embeds in an artwork data such as the information regarding the author, who it belongs to and what its sale price is, taking a digitised physical production or a directly virtual creation. In principle, it grants autonomy to the artist to manage online sales and access a type of collecting that operates in the cryptocurrency market. So much for the basics we have been told about NFT, an acronym for "non-fungible token" to designate a unit of value that allows buying and selling the ownership of unique digital items and tracking who owns them over time, in the event that digital media are stable and durable; also, in case the bubble does not burst.

  • Abdelkader Benchamma, "Sans titre 14", 2010.
    Abdelkader Benchamma, "Sans titre 14", 2010.

    Why are exhibition openings so boring? Why do we still attend them? What makes us leave our comfy armchair? Curiosity for the new work of an artist we are interested in, the possibility of meeting a friend or the wish to broaden our social relationships?

  • Eugenio Merino, "In God We Trust. Everyone Else Pays Cash", 2015.
    Eugenio Merino, "In God We Trust. Everyone Else Pays Cash", 2015.

    The whole set of rules, moralities, procedures, mechanics, legislations and routines1 that make up our life experience, organised and reproduced from a position of domination, highlight "time" as an important factor in production as a result of the old relationship between knowledge and economy. For the West, the victory of the Capitalist Bloc during the Cold War2, creating an appearance of well-being, entailed the establishment and normalisation of the Capital system in the field of the production of knowledge and, more specifically, of the knowledge related more to symbolic life than to the material one. For contemporary Capitalism, where we live together in an attempt to survive, symbolic life has shaped the central axis of economy by incorporating meaning as the proper exercise of works seen as "cultural". Because for Capital, every knowledge must produce economy, thus determining our ways of grasping relationships and transforming our sensitiveness and understanding of knowledge that must "compulsorily" generate capital gain3.

  • Marinella Senatore, "Remember the first time you saw your name", 2017.
    Marinella Senatore, "Remember the first time you saw your name", 2017.

    "Due to the close correspondence existing between art and power, certain sectors have regarded modern and contemporary art and its structures as cultural expressions of capitalism. Modernity is associated with a set of bureaucratised institutional practices, with a predetermined structure of disciplines and social functions, and with the colonisation of the non-European world. From this it follows that the only thing that can bring about the end of capitalism is the cancellation of modernity."1

  • Opus magnum

    Francesco Giaveri
    DEMOCRACIA, "Order III: Dinner at the Dorchester" (detail), 2018.
    DEMOCRACIA, "Order III: Dinner at the Dorchester" (detail), 2018.

    "I want to rule and have possessions!"
    Goethe - Faust

    In his speech from 1966 on the suggestive theme Culture and Corporation’s Support of the Arts, David Rockefeller declares that he believes in the specific benefits that art provides companies with: "From an economic standpoint, such involvement can mean direct and tangible benefits. It can provide a company with extensive publicity and advertising, a brighter public reputation and an improved corporate image." Among the many masterpieces that the eminent banker collects to subsequently donate to renowned institutions, thus fulfilling his role as a prominent patron of MoMA, there is a portrait of Félix Fénéon.

  • Carlos Pazos, "El amor duele (primera aproximación)", 1974.
    Carlos Pazos, "El amor duele (primera aproximación)", 1974.

    It seems reasonable that in a period of extreme immunity like the present one, in which both a health emergency and increasing social polarisation -with its subsequent expressions of unrest, hatred and violence- are accelerating the deterioration of community living and relationships, the so-called affective turn has ended up playing the main role in most discourses in the art and academic sphere. Nevertheless, and with no intention whatsoever of lowering the potential of a bet in this direction, we should point out how worrying it is that a policy of affective turn may end up being assumed as a place for consensus, instead of a constructive space for critical debate.

  • Adrian Melis, "Puntos de reposición", 2013.
    Adrian Melis, "Puntos de reposición", 2013.

    One of the most pleasant memories of my childhood is the visits that every Sunday my parents organised to a museum in the capital of Spain –Madrid, an inhospitable place for almost everything, but rich in art galleries. On these occasions, I was fascinated standing in front of those strange objects –mostly paintings– that seemed to have a life of their own and the ability to teleport me far away from routine. A large part of my experience as an art viewer is related to this early impression and an uncertain notion of the independence of the work that was developing inside my noggin in those times.  

  • The British Empire

    Alexandra Laudo [Heroínas de la Cultura]
    Jordi Colomer, "Arabian Stars. Mies van der Rohe", 2005.
    Jordi Colomer, "Arabian Stars. Mies van der Rohe", 2005.

    One of the greatest difficulties we face as human beings –especially if we are prone to reflection and self-analysis– is perhaps to live coherently; that is to say, acting in accordance with the values and principles we follow, so that there is a cohesion between them and our actions. Art, as a space for the production of critical thinking, encounters the difficulty of coherence; or, in other words, the problem of the lack of coherence that appears when theoretically advocating some postulates that very often do not operationally find a consistent transcription. The list of contradictions between thinking and acting, between talking and doing is remarkably long in the sphere of art, and although we endeavour to make it shorter by analyzing such inconsistencies to solve them, the time we require to reduce them is always much less compared to the quick pace at which we add new contradictory aspects between theory and practice to this list.

  • Gear

    Frederic Montornès
    Carlos Aires, "I Will Die", 2019.
    Carlos Aires, "I Will Die", 2019.

    A gear is the mechanism that is used for transmitting mechanical power from a component to another by means of the contact of gear wheels, which may have a cylindrical or conical shape; according to the relative orientation of these axes or their cogs in relation to the axes, they may produce a large variety of typologies. Consequently, a gear produces a movement of circular transmission, and this, in turn, produces wear on its parts due to continuous friction. In order to reduce the wear produced by the use of a gear and lengthen the lifespan of the machinery and avoid repairs as well, it is extremely important to keep the gear well lubricated. Otherwise, it goes rusty, it hardens, it ends up being scrap, it loses interest and is of no use anymore.

  • Bouchra Khalili, "Foreign Office. Hotel El Safir, Ex-Aletti, Algiers City Center", 2015.
    Bouchra Khalili, "Foreign Office. Hotel El Safir, Ex-Aletti, Algiers City Center", 2015.

    Where to start? Or, more precisely, how to begin? How can I talk of anything during a time of extraordinary social change of global magnitude? Things feel like they will never again be as they were before. Despair is confused with overarching blurs of personal loss, combined with collective mourning for an earlier time. Are we a “community in death” while we are social distancing?3 Our world is a politics of populism, protectionism, and discrimination. Exclusion is pervasive. The question of how rather than what to write about what we see seems more pertinent than ever.

  • The barrier of cynicism

    Montse Frisach
    mounir fatmi, "Evolution or Death, Phoebe", 2014.
    mounir fatmi, "Evolution or Death, Phoebe", 2014.

    At the end of 2020, the current Spanish Minister of Culture José Luis Rodríguez Uribes asserted that "for the first time" the culture sector was not going to "suffer the consequences" of the crises derived from Covid-19 thanks to the subsidies and the budget increases foreseen for 2021. These declarations are rather peculiar because they implicitly acknowledge that culture always ends up suffering the consequences. It is taken for granted that the culture budget is always the easiest and the most effortless to cut back. Because, after all, what percentage of the population would demonstrate if a museum were to be shut down? How would the demonstrations be in the street if most art galleries were forced to close?       

  • Marcos Ávila-Forero, "From The Mountains. Varela Family", 2017.
    Marcos Ávila-Forero, "From The Mountains. Varela Family", 2017.

    As an art historian, I have always been very much focused on the visual arts, particularly on the art of our times and on an art with an eminently critical point of view. I am interested in art that has things to say and to contribute, which echoes problems that sometimes seem invisible so that they may be seen; it may also be that we,1 women, hide and ignore them to keep on going with our comfortable lives.
    When I begin to do research into these issues I see how (and this is something I deal with in many of my texts, always taking into consideration the book by Miguel Ángel Hernández who talks about an artist as historian),2 I feel attracted by the figure of an artist who, somehow, works both as a historian and an anthropologist. Thus, the artist appears as a producer of realities. The art created from this position becomes a device that may end up having a social impact (although it may also go unnoticed and become diluted).

  • Easy Rider

    Antonio Ortega
    Joan Pallé, "A magnificent place to live, work, or commit suicide", 2018.
    Joan Pallé, "A magnificent place to live, work, or commit suicide", 2018.

    The ADNBlog -just like the whole ADN project- focuses on the relationships between art, politics and society.
    Well then, from all the possibilities offered by this thematic framework, I do not know why but I decided to focus on the efforts that every artist interested in addressing political and social issues has to make to avoid being identified with the free rider figure (who has benefitted from what has been produced in a communitarian way). I think that this is due to the error of mixing up what is moral and what is political, as it may be observed in the fact that the free rider may be exposed to moral and not penal disapproval. So too, flirting with moral conflict, I decided to use as a writing technique the most despicable expression of academic production: the cut and paste method from Wikipedia.

  • Adrian Melis, "Dream Production Plan", 2012-19.
    Adrian Melis, "Dream Production Plan", 2012-19.

    What is the social role of a male or female collector? To purchase, or even better, to pay. This dimension is a crucial point. It allows for the artist's finances, most of the time extremely fragile, to recover and for the art gallery to operate. By letting ourselves purchase, or even to become collectors? which is not the same?, we not only play the role of a consumerist actor but also that of an adjuvant. We become the person who contributes so that the hero keeps moving ahead. In turn, the adjuvant may become a subject, he/she may be observed and pursue his/her own quest. In this case, gallery owners and artists will assume then, in turn, the role of adjuvants.

  • Avelino Sala, "MAD (Mutually assured destruction)", 2015.
    Avelino Sala, "MAD (Mutually assured destruction)", 2015.

    For almost a decade now, we face the sudden emergence of political parties that come out of the blue with no clear political agenda. A disintegration of the political space such as we knew it has taken place, and it would seem that even the storytelling is now obsolete given the fact that we may conduct the voters by means of algorithms. Twitter trolling and the "conspiracy-paranoid" agitation are more efficient than the drawing up of programs aiming to put an end to prevailing inequality. We know perfectly well that the "clash of civilisations" is politics at "the end of history". "The ethnic-religious conflicts  –as Zizek points out in his book Like a Thief in Broad Daylight (Como un ladrón en pleno día, Ed. Anagrama, 2020)? are the form of struggle which fits global capitalism: in our age of 'post-politics', when politics proper is progressively replaced by expert social administration, the only remaining legitimate source of conflict is cultural tension (ethnic, religious)."

  • Domènec, "Domestic", 2000.
    Domènec, "Domestic", 2000.

    Today, before an unprecedented frozen landscape, we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of one of the main forerunners of ecologist thinking and the greatest exponent of what has been called "green anarchism": Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921-July 30, 2006).
    In a period of unparalleled climatic crisis, with extreme atmospheric phenomena such as those we are witnessing, which nevertheless does not appease climate-change denial, it seems to me that it is more pertinent than ever before to recuperate my Bookchinian philes, although, as Floreal Romero points out at the presentation of the last book released on the author, Murray Bookchin, por una ecología social y radical,2 Bookchin did not want any Bookchinians.

  • María María Acha-Kutscher, "Maybe 1", 2015.
    María María Acha-Kutscher, "Maybe 1", 2015.

    “Her body was the continuation of war.?

    Las Malas, Camila Sosa Villada

     

    Some days ago we took leave of a fateful year, 2020, that has made us rethink our entire vital structure, awaiting the new one as if we left the change to fate. We leave behind some months in which a global pandemic has brought to the forefront the cleavages of the capitalist system in which everything that cannot be commoditised becomes superfluous, precarious. Caregiving was mentioned by all after seeing the terrible images of elderly people dying in nursing homes, the forgotten ones of a cannibal system. Children closed at home, the almost impossibility of continuing to work, together with the co-responsibility of confinement, women who could not return to work (almost 20% of unemployed, four percent more than men) are some of the symptoms that have emerged due to this pandemic that express a non-egalitarian system. The face of precariousness is a woman, therefore it requires a feminist analysis.

  • Núria Güell, "Stateless by Choice", 2015.
    Núria Güell, "Stateless by Choice", 2015.

    What is commonly accepted is that politics influences art, but the way from art to politics, id est, from the artistic to the political (as Hannah Arendt understood it) is poorly acknowledged.1
    And yet both politicians and audiences receive images that stem from painting (The Last Supper), film (Battleship Potemkin), theater (Tartuffe), novels like Don Quixote and Les Misérables, and so on that conform that which is artistic and sensible.

  • Empathy

    Montse Badia
    Pep Vidal, "Our own paths", 2020.
    Pep Vidal, "Our own paths", 2020.

    ...And nature recovered its lost ground: fish in Venice's canals, deer in the middle of the roads, coyotes on the streets of San Francisco, wild plants pushing their way up through concrete, cleaner air and less noise pollution in cities... The idea was not to leave anyone behind... But it was only a parenthesis, a reminder not deep enough to really revisit the social-natural contract, to learn the animal's ability to adapt and adopt more complex intelligence models to once and for all assimilate that growth per se cannot be the aim.  

  • Small Data: Trial/Error

    Miguel Ángel Sánchez
    DEMOCRACIA, "La vérité est toujours révolutionnaire", 2009.
    DEMOCRACIA, "La vérité est toujours révolutionnaire", 2009.

    Twenty-three years have gone by since I began to get obsessed. It was not the mere awakening of an interest, but rather the colonisation of gaze and thinking from which I have not been able to get free. Just a few certainties, but I could swear that the inability of moving away from this influence might be attributed to the impossibility to come across the ultimate reason justifying pertinences and needs. But in fact, why should I search for an ultimate reason? Why should I cling to reductionist certainties?