ARTres. The museum as it should be

From: Friday, 02 March 2018

To: Sunday, 26 August 2018

Place: South Gallery

«We have forced the trends as self-criticism to show –with a greater presence of women artists than men– a conquered space and therefore propose The Museum As It Should Be»

This is the second version of the exhibition Art and (Art) System. On this occasion, we decided to put together a new additional exhibition to complement the Collection once the action dedicated to (Art) System had been dismantled and the action dedicated to Art is still running and on display in a section of the Museum’s South Gallery. This means that almost one thousand five hundred square metres of the South Gallery are to be dedicated to the Artium Collection.

But we immediately came up against the challenge of what should we dedicate this new chapter to?

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The first was structured around some of the most iconic works displayed in the Museum’s own exhibitions and requested on loan by other centres in an effort to recall and display them to the public in one show, thereby expressing the quality and importance possessed by many of these pieces in the art history of our surroundings. So should this second show be completed with other works under these same parameters or should we attempt a new project to enrich the discussion and the debate on museum practice in these days of seeking new heritage models?

The breadth and quality of the Collection conserved by Artium can undoubtedly address both options and others that may arise.

One must not forget that the Alava Provincial Council first began acquiring works for its Contemporary Art Collection in the mid-seventies of the last century. These works provide a witness to the time in which they were produced and their characteristics correspond to the very same time in which these artists lived. Just like now. The Fine Arts Museum of Álava, original housing the Collection, and Artium, home to it for the past fifteen years, have had the good fortune, reflected in the bulk of its Collection, to live each day and each moment intensely, acquiring year after year the works that we consider to be crucial to show a necessary development and cast light upon an era. This work has been constant, interrupted only for a few years at the beginning of the 1980s because of the social, institutional and economic tensions of Spain’s political transition and then most recently because of the devastation caused by the current crisis. This has left an imprint on the Collection and created a need to fill these empty gaps, which is what we are doing to the best of our abilities.

So, standing as were in front of the exhibition Art, we came up with the idea of ARTres. We noticed that the approach we gave it in 2017, still on display, corresponded to a way of doing, collecting and showing that belonged to the last century and that we had to ask ourselves what has happened since then until now.

Not a lot of time has passed, but today we find ourselves at the centre of a gap, a debate that must affect and transform this view. Not only the shows and exhibitions that many times have to be questioned, but also of course the institution of the museum itself. We have to open the windows to let in some light. We have to construct two-way bridges between institutions and audiences. We have to consider the other heritages that have been designed by the very latest technologies and create new conservation protocols contained in the infinite possibilities of reproducibility, rather than devoting ourselves to applying obsolete norms. In short, there is still a lot of work to do.

We therefore saw the chance to apply some of these thoughts in mind to a new show. Precondition: the exhibition should largely comprise recently acquired works that can demonstrate that the Museum has remained focused on current art movements even in the five-year vacuum of the crisis, especially within the context of the Basque Country.

And so, assuming our nature, our brand of living and confronting present-day challenges to shape the future, we drew our first conclusion, as obvious as it is difficult to perceive: whatever happens, whatever has happened, the artist, man or woman, cannot deviate from three lines of discourse: the withins or introspections, the withouts or inspections and the artefacts or art itself. The three combined or separately, one overriding the others or together in equal parts, everything is contemplated within them, selfhood and being, the world, landscape, politics, conflict, the sources of creativity, taste, aesthetics or criticism. Nobody can escape from it and it is a good way to discover and think about a work of art.

Our second conclusion is as obvious as living each day. We live in turbulent times in which we are faced with the need to go conquering first and normalising later, the social spaces that women have always been denied. And art is one of the most vocal because of the lamentable qualitative prejudices that have been put in place, thanks to toxic considerations that viewed women as being tied to specific ideas of contemporary art. All this and other issues have prevented quantitative equality in culture and art.

Our idea in ARTres is to show how both men and women use the same paths to express their interests. The withins, the withouts and the physical and mental artefacts coexist in the two exhibitions of the Collection. But in ARTres we have forced the trends as self-criticism to show –with a greater presence of women artists than men– a conquered space and therefore propose The Museum As It Should Be, once and for all.

Daniel Castillejo, curator

Exhibition's brochure   List of works  Opening programme 

ARTres. The Museum As It Should Be

Artium Collection (Art and System (of art) project)
Curator: Daniel Castillejo
Artists: Ángeles Agrela, Elena Aitzkoa, Juncal Ballestín, Zigor Barayazarra, Cabello/Carceller, June Crespo, María Luisa Fernández, Miriam Isasi, Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum, Concha Jerez, Aníbal López, Liliana Porter, Mabi Revuelta, María Ribot, Ixone Sádaba, Montserrat Soto, Eulalia Valldosera

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