Thursday, 05 October 2017 10:27

Artium presents the exhibition Liquid Cartographies

The exhibition is conceived based on the postulates of the sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, creator of the “liquid modernity”. The exhibition features the works of twelve Mexican and Spanish artists. It is a joint production of the Carrillo Gil Art Museum of Mexico City, the Artium Museum of Alava and the AECID

Artium, Basque Centre-Museum of Contemporary Art, presents the exhibition Liquid Cartographies (South Gallery, until February 11, 2018). Through the works of 12 Mexican and Spanish artists, the show proposes a transversal review of the present based on the postulates of the philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, creator of the “liquid modernity” concept. The exhibition is articulated in six areas to deal with such contemporary matters as frontiers, sustainability and communications. Liquid Cartographies, a joint production of the Artium Museum, the Carrillo Gil Art Museum (Mexico City) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, is curated by Blanca de la Torre, Paula Duarte and Carlos E. Palacios, and is presented on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the United Mexican States and the Spanish State.

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Zygmunt Bauman (Poznan, Poland, 1925-Leeds, United Kingdom, 2017) was lecturer at the University of Warsaw and the University of Leeds, among others, and in 2010 was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Communications and Humanities. Throughout his life, he focused on a number of contemporary matters, but, especially as of the 80s, the analysis of modernity and post-modernity, consumerism, globalisation and the new poverty. It is worth pointing out that his thought has had a profound influence on the anti-globalisation movement.

The term “liquid modernity” was coined and disseminated by Bauman in contrast to “solid modernity”. For this sociologist and philosopher, the solid certainties of modernity have become liquid in the present moment, due to its “obsessive and compulsive nature, which propels and intensifies, as a result of which (…) none of the subsequent stages of social life can keep their shape for a long period of time”. In this process, the individual must integrate within an ever more global society, but without a fixed, dependent identity and obliged to adapt on a continuous basis.

Bauman applied this concept to the analysis of very different questions, ranging from contemporary art to social networks. In the case of the exhibition Liquid Cartographies, the curators have established six theme areas “which are, in turn, fluid theme constellations, to tackle the dialogue between Spanish and Mexican artists”: Frontier/Limits, Economy, Sustainability, History/Archive, Networks/Communications and Habitat.

Although it might seem that frontiers and limits should not be necessary in a globalised world, in reality “these barriers are restored at a political level, becoming stronger, restricting the ability to circulate, coexist and live”. In this sense, the works of Asunción Molinos Gordo, El Fellah Ando Fes (The peasant has a hoe) and Edgardo Aragón, Assignment, focus upon the idea of frontier and limit. Another of the problems of the globalised society of today, according to Bauman’s analysis, is sustainability, and specifically the excessive use of natural resources compared to the desires and needs of the local societies affected. This issue is referred to in the works of Elena Lavellés, Patrón de disolución, and Mauricio Orduña, Combustível. Haiku: para Arto Linsay.

On the other hand, Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of the habitat in which post-modern societies are set up reveals that this is subjected to constant changes. A habitat plagued by social and existential tensions”. Nevertheless, Bauman believes that the world does not necessarily have to be the way it is; there is an alternative for what seems to be so natural, so obvious and inevitable at this time. This question is the subject of the works of Fernando García-Dory, Tierras raras, and Emilio Chapela, Es una catástrofe no encontrar terreno en común.

The idea of liquid modernity is especially palpable in current modes of communication, especially in on-line modes and the model of social relations that have evolved from these, with extremely swift changes. The works of Ana Roldán, Strangers at Home, and Maider López, Línea de césped (Polder Cup), “efficiently represent that need to interpret and re-signify the systems in which we live in the gaseous state of contemporary society”.

On the other hand, according to Bauman, the changing nature of contemporary societies questions the current scope of history and the loss of solid references. Two artists, one Spanish and one Mexican, “have created their works for the exhibition from the perspective of history and archive: two resources for an aesthetics of tradition”. These artists are Rosell Meseguer, author of Ovni Archive, and Morelos León Celis, with El oficio del adversario. Finally, the world of economics is the origin of the works of Carlos Aires, El ojo que todo lo ve 30 euros 15 minutos, and Miguel Fernández de Castro, Batuc. These works highlight one of the ideas of Bauman, namely that the economic sphere impregnates everything, that human relations are established in terms of cost-benefit, and that all this leads to increased marginalisation and the appearance of “human waste”.

The presence of these twelve Mexican and Spanish artists in the exhibition Liquid Cartographies also reminds us that 2017 marks the fortieth anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the United States of Mexico and the Spanish State. At the end of the Civil War, Mexico suspended any contact with Spain under the Franco dictatorship and took in and offered protection for large numbers of republican exiles. Diplomatic relations were suspended until 1977, following the death of the dictator and the beginning of the Transition period.

«The modern liquid culture no longer feels that it is a culture of learning and growth, such as the cultures recorded in the annals of historians and ethnographers. Just the opposite, it appears to us to be a culture of indifference, discontinuity and oblivion».
Concerning education in a liquid culture. Zygmunt Bauman (conversations with Ricardo Mazzeo)

«Solid modernity is teleological, tending towards both totalitarianism and newness, and differentiates from the liquid modernity that impregnates present time. In the latter, temporality evolves into instantaneity and the market impregnates all areas of our existence. With liquid modernity, the production system is transformed and consumerism takes on a different guise in which the cycle of desire becomes a constant impulse to seek objects and experiences that never manage to satisfy the subject. Desire is transformed into a state of constant dissatisfaction and individuals change from being tourists seeking new experiences to being homeless vagabonds who wander this way and that, following a succession of desires that will never be fully satisfied and for that reason must be replaced by new ones».
Gemma Argüello Manresa, in the exhibition catalogue Liquid Cartographies

Images for press use  More information  Opening programme  Exhibition leaflet  List of works

Liquid Cartographies

South Gallery, from October 7, 2017 until February 11, 2018
Artists: Carlos Aires, Edgardo Aragón, Emilio Chapela Pérez, Miguel Fernández de Castro, Fernando García Dory, Elena Lavellés, Morelos León Celis, Maider López, Rosell Meseguer, Asunción Molinos Gordo, Mauricio Orduña Pérez, Ana Roldán
Curators: Blanca de la Torre, Paula Duarte and Carlos E. Palacios
Inauguration: Friday, October 6
6.30 pm: pre-inaugural guided visit with Blanca de la Torre. Exclusive for Friends of Artium
7 pm: round table with curators and artists. Free entry.
8 pm: exhibition opening
Forthcoming guided visits: Sunday, October 8, 12.30 pm (Spanish); Wednesday 11, 6.30 pm (Basque); Wednesday 25, 6.30 (Spanish)
Exhibition catalogue. With texts by Blanca de la Torre, Paula Duarte, Carlos E. Palacios and Gemma Argüello Manresa
Liquid Cartographies is a production of Artium (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba), the Carrillo Gil Art Museum (Mexico City) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)

This exhibition is possible thanks to the support from:

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