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May 2019
by Esther Vilà


I write this possible route a few days before the general election. Whichever is the result, we will continue to go out on the street and disobey, because by disobeying we find a way to rethink ourselves and with consideration: action and change.

The exhibition Desobediences: a toolbox that can be seen at Mecanic, offers different ‘tools’ from different artistic fields, such as philosophy, writing or image, which work as instruments for social disobedience and that they show their strength to make us aware that maybe everything is in our hands. Participating artists, collectives, institutions and social activists, each one in their field, provides reflection, an image, a practice with the intention to activate the visitor.

The exhibition begins with the manifesto by Martí Sales, in which by using his weapon, claims writing and literature as tools for disobedience. At the same time, like Xènia Gasull (the exhibition’s curator and co-founder of Mecánic) told us, the piece becomes the discourse that gives a general tone to the proposal.

Moving on, we find a space dedicated to books (the book as a historical support for the transmission of ideas) with the installation Wall of books in which you can find all kinds of publications (photobooks, novels, philosophy, essays…) that come from different publishers or collections, such as Archipelago (Magali Avezou’s publishing project), the collection of Gabriela Cendoya, or from Calders’ bookstore, among others … It is a pleasure to look at the different books exhibited… as a ‘curiosity’ you will find The Bible and the Holy Bible, intervened by the artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Or a copy of a series of ‘cartoneros’ books: photocopied books with cardboard covers made by children from Latin American schools … And even a manual (made by the United States!) for citizens of Nicaragua to encourage them to disobey the state with apparently harmless homemade small actions…

Also, in this space of writing, paper and thought participates the publication El pressentiment by the collective Espai Blanc: “Nobody knows what will happen. Political discourses are interchangeable. Only presentiments have strength and allow to take a stand. ” A photocopier gives us the option to print presentiments: ‘Our violence is to exist’. We can even photocopy a manual of instructions made during the Arab Spring on how to dress to go to a rally or how to build a tear gas mask …

Photography, as the art that ‘shoots’, is represented in the work of Brazilian photographer Felipe Abreu and Frenchman Nicolas Descottes. Also exhibited is Tanit Plana’s project linked to technology and the use that can be given to the mobile phone as a tool for denouncing and transmitting abuse of power, contrary to the image we have of it as symbol of consumption and control. The exhibition ends with a video collage of different moments of civil disobedience, from here and everywhere, from actions of the past to the most contemporary ones.

Various parallel activities have also been programmed, such as the talk organized by the Gentrific.Action group on the 16th of May, together with Zumzeig and Nau Ivanov, to discuss the problems of gentrification, and about the role played by cultural spaces, such as Mecànic, in the gentrification of neighbourhoods. Gentrification and art is also present in ‘Artcile’ Sant Andreu Contemporani’s latest publication, Vivir en una burbuja (No. 5), which incidentally I found at Chiquita Room gallery.

At Chiquita Room, a space that opened a few months in Sant Antoni, you can see the exhibition by Teresa Estapé Oro, papel y diamante, curated by Zaida Trallero. A proposal that also disobeys the rules imposed by the capitalist market, investing and delocalizing the value of the jewel or the work of art.
In general, everything that jeweller and visual artist Teresa Estapé makes, interests me. I like this bravery that she has to remove, remove, remove until she remains with the minimal and the smallest, with the essential. Only with the necessary to question the value of the three materials that give title to the exhibition: gold, paper, diamond. The exhibition shows the installation Valor Refugi II in which a gold plate is transformed into paper and is hidden under the sentence “Show me the money” and camouflaged between 95 A4 sheets of paper hung on the wall. Also the piece ‘Diamante’ in which she undresses a diamond removing the shininess and leaves it without the value granted by the market.

«Capitalism disgusts me and fascinates me, like everyone else. We are condemned to live in it but we can do many small actions in our everyday to sabotage it and, above all, the only thing that makes us partly free is consciousness and critical vision. I hope that when you leave the exhibition, you take this seed and generate this reflection of what really is valuable for yourself.” Teresa Estapé says. Impeccable and strong exhibition. Ask them to show you the artistbook Envoltorio para diamante that they have published in the occasion of the exhibition: “An artist’s book, the fruit of intrusion and appropriation in his own jewellery profession” (Chiquita Room).

Another artist who questioned the codes of value of her profession was Lina Bo Bardi. She said to define herself: “I am an architect, I break walls!” The Miró Foundation is exhibiting Lina Bo Bardi Drawing until the 26th of May. The exhibition shows a selection of drawings that kept her busy all her life and which were key to the development of her professional and personal career.

Lina Bo Bardi (Rome, 1914 – Sao Paulo, 1992) was an architect, designer, curator, lover of plants. Nature and drawing was always present in all her activities. Lina Bo Bardi Drawing shows her passion for drawing, as a work tool but also as a pleasure, as a statement, understanding drawing as a tool for thinking, exploration, expression and even fighting. With little economical resources, Lina Bo Bardi is pushing forward ambitious projects but always deeply rooted in the contact with people and this bond between person and nature. She believed that the person was the protagonist of the architecture, and therefore her projects always had the person as a reference.

On the 18th of May, although is probably not the best day to visit the exhibition, you can make an exception and take advantage of the documentary Precise Poetry: Lina Bo Bardi’s Architecture, by the director Belinda Rukschcio ( 2014). Images of projects, evocations and comments on the conception of the architecture of Lina Bo Bardi and her socio-political commitment.

From Bo Bardi to María María Acha-Kutscher, in La Virreina, until the 23rd of June. The exhibition, curated by Valentí Roma, is in the small space of La Virreina. Womankind is a long-distance project by María María Acha-Kutscher (Lima, 1968), where she critically looks at the masculine gaze that of photography towards women. Imaginaries that, since the birth of photography, have built a discriminatory and paternalist visual history of women. A look that places women as a passive being, in a bubble, isolated from society, from work, from the movement of the city, from art. A woman who is the subject of artistic representation, but who is not represented or identified. In the different series of photographs that make up Womankind María María Acha-Kutscher intervenes accurately and subtly on the numerous archive images that she finds from different places, giving them a new meaning. Thus, as it is said in the text of the room, the artist becomes somehow another sprinkler, following Agnès Varda, another generous disobedient.

Text by Esther Vilà for GRAF. Esther is Coordinator of  Visual Arts and Cinema at La Casa Elizalde.