GRAF brings you the programme of contemporary art in Catalonia. The agenda that combines all agendas.

December 2017
by Raquel Herrera

20th of December 2017

Will the streets always belong to us? I asked myself when they chanted again and again in the demonstrations caused by the brutal police intervention (more than a thousand injured people) against the Catalan Independence referendum.

This autumn, the streets of Barcelona have been filled with antagonistic flags waved by growing crowds whose difficult advance represented a success of attendance. Meanwhile other spaces, the ultra-fast networks, facilitated the clash of disembodied but painful stories, first under the vigilance of buzzing helicopters, and second with the threat of having to identify yourself online.

What is the speed of art in this context? What could be the role of the GRAF spaces, between the whir of the sky and the kicking of the ground, crossed by the never ending tweet and the never ending Whatsapp that make equidistance impossible?

As usual, the beginning of autumn had meant a collective beat of wings to show a multitude of artistic proposals: in fact, the closing of Barcelona Gallery Weekend coincided with the referendum of the 1st of October. It would be interesting to know the result: how many routes took place? How many were cancelled? Who owns the streets in this impasse of governments that repel each other, of propagandistic antithesis and propiciatory victims?

My writing weakens when facing an uncertainty that does not promise to be resolved in the upcoming elections. What is going to happen? The day after, at least, is frightening, so in this route I propose to reincarnate our particular Benjamin’s angelus novus: let’s look as long as we can, let’s look again, until they let us, towards the future of history’s interpretations.

It is for this reason I highlight the following proposals as if it was a post-political prescription.

On the streets:

Fernando Vijande: Retrato: 1971-1987> Fundació Suñol (co-organized by the Foundation and José Luis Alexanco): Vijande’s gallery efforts to promote Spanish artists, precisely in the decades of change such as the death rattles of the dictatorship and the first years of Socialist cultural euphoria. If Vijande stands out for having taken the exhibition New Images from Spain to the Guggenheim in New York in 1980, I can not help speculating on what those “new images” would be in a hypothetical exhibition made for example in 2020.

Barcelona vista del Besòs> La Virreina Center of Image (Patrick Faigenbaum and Joan Roca, curated by Jean-François Chevrier and Jorge Ribalta): a photographic, urban and recent narrative (1999-2007) from spaces considered peripheral. I wonder what the objects and subjects of these images think about the deep dissension of the current urban and political center. Do they feel identified, or do they keep, even more, the distances?

On the Net:

To shift between the lectures The Revolution that is coming and The last hopes that took place at La Virreina Center of the Image on the 17th and 9th of November 2017.

The encounter The life of stories. The filmed testimony that has taken place at Fundació Tàpies on the 12th of December 2017, within the international seminar The life of stories. The filmed testimony.

These last two events allow me to connect with a proposition that transits between the streets and the Net: StoryData is a group of women journalists who, for their new project #RelatsOberts1o, bring together via social networks experiences that allow them to build a visual narrative about what happened on the 1st of October.

After these suggestions, I conclude by asking: What can art contribute to these streets that are sometimes noisy, sometimes silenced, sometimes ours, sometimes occupied, but without a k that separates them from the official discourse and its counter-hegemonic deployment?

Text by Raquel Herrera for GRAF. Raquel is teacher, researcher and translator of Cultural Digital Communitation.