2012 A visual essay composed of ten pieces that make up a decalogue about the work Conferencias Norte-Sur-Este-Oeste (North-South-East-West Conferences) by the artist Olga Merchán for the Sala d’Art Josep Bages of the Art Center Torre Muntadas of El Prat de Llobregat
- Directed by: Èrika Sánchez and Xavier Esteban
- Screenwriters: Èrika Sánchez and Xavier Esteban
- Produced by Antivaho Cinematográfico
Decalogue according to the R.A.E (Royal Spanish Academy of Language): “a set of rules or advice that, although not ten, are basic for the development of any activity”.
The idea of working upon a decalogue stems from the need to organize the chaos resulting from any contemporary subjectivity, in this case, that of the artist Olga Merchán. As well as the desire to contextualize her work (a representation of her subjectivity) in a specific cultural and historical theoretical framework (our representation of the community), with the aim of building bridges between these two fields, the subjective and the collective, to achieve a hypothetical individual revolution.
This decalogue consists of a selection of ten video fragments (documentaries, fictional short films, YouTube videos) that, in our view, are closely related to the work Conferencias Norte-Sur-Este-Oeste (North-South-East-West Conferences) by Olga Merchán that lead us towards a new post-postmodern subjectivity. It is an urgent call to overcome the schizophrenic character of the postmodern subject through the recovery of the personal biographical sense and see what is transformed within by allowing the contact of the mentioned subject with the community.
A fucking excuse
Excerpt from the text written by L. Martínez de la Rosa for the Catalog of the Norte/Sur/Este/Oeste (North/South/East/West) exhibition. (May 13, 2012)
“(…) If we have learned something from the survivors of the postmodern flood it is this: art is a fucking excuse for anything. An excuse to speculate, to survive, to build identities, to generate stories, to spread ideologies, to educate, to win votes, to protest and even to make us believe that we cannot live without it. May the bastard be blessed.
As a child I was told that art was kind of a sacred place inhabited by visionary beings. “Do you see it?” they used to tell me “this artist was one hundred years ahead of his time.” Then I, in front of a small blank canvas, closed my eyes tightly and projected my consciousness a hundred years ahead waiting for that revolutionary image to confirm what I wanted to be, a damn genius of art.
Over time I realized that this was only one of the many lies that made up the scaffolding of my subjective construction. White lies like this or others such as: my university degree, the exemplary transition, democracy, private property, homeland, love for life or credit card. But despite that I still believed in art as a victim of these same frauds. While I learned that art was not that space of superhuman inspiration that I had been taught to dream, I began to feed the belief that it was really a territory of resistance, empowerment and even redemption. I was convinced that art, really, was a powerful weapon with which we were saving the world.
But once again I was wrong. In spite of my firm conviction, the world was getting worse and the supposed power of art was still barely visible, or at least I was unable to see it.
In this permanent fall down the slope of critical knowledge, one day I ran across this blissful phrase: “This is nothing but a fucking excuse.” It was uttered by a police officer whom some young students of fine arts were trying to convince that what they were doing was nothing more than a harmless work of art and that it had nothing to do with a breach of municipal ordinances. “That” was art and not a sadomasochistic sex scene in the middle of that square of that idyllic, exemplary and quiet community. That day I assumed that “that”, luckily, was nothing more than a fucking excuse. For better or worse.
The surrealist poet André Breton harangued the artists to “go outside with a revolver in each hand and, blindly, shoot as much as possible against the crowd.” In reading this phrase I always understand: “against the crowd” and in favor of a new society. And in the end, in my opinion, that’s the only fucking excuse.
When those responsible for the Sala d’Art Josep Bages of the Art Center Torre Muntadas of El Prat de Llobregat invited Èrika Sánchez and Xavier Esteban to make a reflective piece to present in the exhibition of the emerging local artist Olga Merchán, they decided to put the excuse into play without hesitation.
Without thinking twice, they took advantage of their collection of audiovisual oddities (found footage from second-hand markets, online captured videos, films provided by friends, etc.) to form a curatorial proposal, a playlist, which they presented as a decalogue for a supposed individual revolution. A call for the need of personal mobilization to affect social change.
Each of the videos selected by the two filmmakers, turned curators for the occasion, is an assertion of the contingency of the artistic object itself. While some of the selected pieces were created, apparently, with an artistic intention, most of them are obviously not. Family, informative, educational videos, political allegations, discarded fragments of documentaries, etc. Each of these pieces were redefined within this decalogue which is not composed of commandments but of suggested questions, contradictions and inconsistencies.
If you strive to try to reveal or understand the meaning of each of the videos, it is unimportant. None of them were chosen for their original message but as a fucking excuse to provoke, in contact with others and with the exposition itself, a general questioning, an amendment to the whole, to the individual commitment of each one of us (and especially of artists) in the construction of that other possible world. (…) ”