Collecting, Classifying, The Archive, the Document and Beyond, Andalusian Contemporary Art Center

In 1985 a set of texts was published, written between 1976 and 1982 by Georges Perec, under the common title of the one that closes the book: Think, classify. Based on this essay, the exhibition introduces one of the classic functions of any museum, that of collecting. Perec established three categories referring to books and their classification – which could perhaps be transferred to any collection -: very easy to order, not very difficult to order and almost impossible to order.

This new partial presentation of the permanent collection of the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art starts from one of the axes that support it, archive practices, to go further. In dialogue with the ideas that concern the exposition session Bad file(taken from a famous essay by Jacques Derrida), he tries to transfer in a certain way the personal experience that Perec narrates when he affirms regarding his own library that “what is not ordered in a definitively provisional way is in a provisionally definitive way”. In working with a given collection, in the way of making temporary expository presentations of it, the provisional also becomes something definitive, while the possibility of establishing different stories turns out to be a kind of experience similar to what Perec tells when He says that “sometimes I spend three hours looking for a book without finding it, but with the occasional satisfaction of discovering another six or seven that are equally useful.”

This exhibition tries to convey that occasional despair of not finding what we were originally looking for, but also the joy of finding what we did not expect to be there or, at least, to be of such interest to the object of the search. The original idea – to gather works from the CAAC collection that participated in or were close to archive practices – has been transmuting not so much because we did not find what we were looking for, but rather because of the overflow product of finding in the course of those other works that we have been made to go beyond the file and therefore also the document.


Rooms series
Bleda Y Rosa (Castellón, 1969 y Albacete, 1970)
While we were working on their series Cities, we started to photograph spaces related to the urban. This was the start of our special attention to and interest in symbolic and monumental spaces—palaces, noble villas, majestic cities—that manifest a dual nature: they were centres of power and decision-making, but also lived spaces, places of privacy for a variety of personages. This condition also speaks of a dual temporality: that which corresponds to the time of the historic event and that which belongs to personal biographical time. This particular tension in the nature of the spaces in Rooms is caught and accentuated through the fragmentation of architecture, with columns, floors or corners calling up a palpable and intimate space and resisting monumentalization. Our images do not describe these rooms or place us in them, but cause us to experience them and return to them through evocation.

Is this where my family lived?, 2008
Terry Berkowitz (Brooklyn, Nueva York, USA, 1953)
In 1997, Terry Berkowitz spent six months in our country researching the expulsion of the Jews and their subsequent persecution by the Inquisition. She identified and photographed the gates of fifteenth century homes that might have belonged to those who were dispossessed of theirs, and of their lives in Sefarad. The gates photographed in cities such as Granada or Toledo take us back in time to a dramatic chapter in history, to abandoned homes to which there would be no return.

The project, Is This Where My Family Lived?, tells us a story of loss and embodies the hope of this New York artist in finding herself, in returning to a lost past through photographs of gates that have symbolically brought history to a halt.

We see ourselves in the video 1492 that accompanies the photographs, and it transports us to that historical era of abandonment. In the words of the artist herself, “The exhibit is a dream about searching for home through the centuries and through the streets.”

Nube de imágenes, 2003
Ricardo Cadenas (Sevilla, 1960)
A critique of public images. That is the focus of Ricardo Cadenas’ work. Public images refers to everything that appears every day in the newspapers, in advertising, on the neon signs of the city, on the electronic display boards at train stations and airports, and in editorial cartoons, comics and posters. In this respect, Cadenas’ work is rooted in pop art. His interests are closer to the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg than Warhol’s automated coldness. With his plastics, the artist explores the gap that exists between painting and the multitude of images that, like it or not, put pressure on our brains. His means of expression is primarily drawing and collage, with which he opens, explores and matures the process of his work.

Nube de imágenes is a collage which allows him to alter the meaning of very ordinary materials, invoking a new meaning in our imagination by associating certain images with others in a way that is different from how we encounter them every day. In the artist’s own words: “What I am attempting to show with my work is that there is something hidden in this multitude of images that assault us every day, something that is not evident.” And, he added, “What I want is for the picture to be viewed, to be read, like a map rather than like a sequence of static figures. My images are more indexes than objects. They point in different directions, encourage various paths. Rather than inviting contemplation, the picture stimulates an exploration of perspective.”

Sin título, 2001
Gonzalo Puch (Sevilla, 1950)
After beginning his artistic career as a painter in the 80s, using a neoexpressionist language that is close to gestural abstraction, Gonzalo Puch began to take photographs in the following decade, and is still devoted to photography today. His work is part of a photographical trend that could be called “document-fiction” in which the artist attempts to give fictitious stories an appearance of reality.

In this photograph, we see a wall covered in images ranging from Duchamp to an advert for ladies’ tights. It is a repository that challenges our powers of deduction, like a group of references that demand a central thread to give them sense, or a text written in undecipherable characters open to anyone who makes the effort to try to understand them.

There is tension between the visual whole and the details, created by entering a room before being able to focus our eyesight and clearly distinguish what lies in a certain place. They are the shapes of a “stolen scene” – what might be found when suddenly opening the door. Recognising the complexity and richness of life experiences leads the artist to seek to accumulate elements instead of sorting them.

Portfolio Compleat (1985 – 2012)
Guerrila Girls (New York, USA, 1985)
The Guerilla Girls are an anonymous group of feminine artists that was formed in New York in 1985, and are known for wearing gorilla masks in their protests against male domination. They adopt the names of dead artists such as Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gertrude Stein or Georgia O’Keeffe, among others, concealing their true identity to celebrate the achievements of these women.

The Guerilla Girls’ interventions aim to counterbalance and denounce masculine traditions in patriarchal society and in reference to the artistic field. Their discourse, which is both analytical and critical, is bolstered by a sense of humour, as can be seen in their actions, statements, discussions, debates and exhibitions.

With over 30 years of history, this group has produced a multitude of posters, books, drawing projects, graphic publications and interventions denouncing sexism and the discrimination of women in the world of visual arts, the cinema and culture in general.

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Portfolio Compleat, defined by the group itself as a symbol of “the conscience of the art world”, comprises books, magazines and posters that use the visual language of marketing to convey their message swiftly and directly.

The New Five Foot Shelf, 2001
Allen Ruppersberg (Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1944)
Allen Ruppersberg belongs to the first generation of North American artists to use elements of mass media culture from a critical point of view. His work represents a reflection on the relations between apparently contradictory concepts – reality and fiction, high and low culture, public space and private space, etc. Throughout his career Ruppersberg has turned to a multitude of artistic tools and techniques, such as installations, performance, drawings, slide shows, collages or videos and has used literary resources, autobiographical references and objects from popular culture to reconsider aesthetic categories such as “authorship”, “artistic work” or “exposition space” and to explore the limits between an original and its copy or copies. His main aim is to promote “a more democratic type of art object” and widen the sphere of exposition spaces, bringing into question the entirety of the mechanisms of production, distribution and reception of aesthetic content.

More recently Allen Ruppersberg has created pieces like The New Five Foot Shelf, that he himself has defined as “a great biographic work”, including, among other things, life-size photographs of the different parts of his workshop he occupied in New York City from 1986 and 2001 and numerous texts and objects taken from his personal archives. Presenting his studio, work, and traces of his sources -pictorially and literally- Ruppersberg invites us to stand in his shoes, or at least sit at his desk. For an artist whose practice is centered around reading, to make available these texts is metaphorically equivalent to handing viewers the painter’s brush and palette and letting them loose in his studio.

Plane Landing, Collages
Aleksandra Mir (Lubin, Polonia, 1967) This work is a natural by-product of Aleksandra Mir’s Plane Landing project. Her works habitually oscillate between a world of momentous events and deeds and the realm of the ordinary, the recycled and the customized. The original Plane Landing was an enormous balloon shaped like an aeroplane produced by the Bristol-based firm Cameron Balloons. The helium-filled aircraft was suspended in a permanent state of landing, never quite managing to make contact with the ground. Once the artist’s conceptual work was done, she had to wait for the firm’s engineers to finish designing the aeroplane. Mir explains that, in order to sustain her interest in aviation, “I used the first technical drawings from the factory and made collages, imagining probable locations where the plane might appear“. In most of these compositions the artist makes use of the advertisements publicizing in which the female figure is given a sexual use.

Marx Lounge, 2010
Alfredo Jaar (Santiago de Chile, 1956)
Karl Marx’s most influential ideas are still controversial today. This is evidenced in the numerous recent symposiums, publications and exhibitions around the world. The reason for this could be the current economic crisis. However, it would be fair to say that it covers a wider spectrum within the cultural theory and contemporary critique, which constantly question and re-evaluate capitalism.

The Marx Lounge is Alfredo Jaar’s answer to this, an area providing the public with extensive reading material on Marx’s philosophical, political, economic and humanistic ideas. It also presents bibliography by other theorists, philosophers and authors who have followed, analyed or revisited Marx’s theories. Žižek, Hall, Rancière, Butler, Laclau, Mouffe, Jameson, Bourdieu, Fanon, etc. bring new patterns of thought which reflect the enormous amount of knowledge gained in the past few decades. According to the artist, a true intellectual revolution has taken place, although far from the real world. For this reason, Alfredo Jaar offers a reading lounge in which to sit back and think about the importance and viability of marxism in the current state of affairs, as well as about the most recent political and philosophical ideas, that may help us better understand the present moment.

Arquitecturas encontradas, 1973 – 1985
Guillermo Pérez Villalta
A painter, architect and sculptor, Pérez Villalta was part of the New Madrid Figuration and is a representative of postmodernism in Spain. For some, his work is immersed in neomanierism. The training he received in his youth at the School of Architecture has had a conceptual influence on his art throughout his career.

The series of photographs entitled Arquitecturas encontradas (Found Architectures) is a clear example of this. This compilation dates from between 1973 and the end of the 80s and captures a series of unique buildings. It is a condemnation of the disappearance of this type of construction, which was commonplace in the 70s. They were anonymous buildings that illustrated the creative freedom felt by their designers in the face of “ever-increasing uniformity”. As the artist himself explains, “I stumbled across intriguing examples of popular architecture. Architecture without architects, is what I called it; (…) creative freedom should always trump any guidelines or rules regarding “what ought to be done”. I decided to document what I liked, that architecture created, in most cases, by the owners themselves or by building contractors who indulged their personal tastes as they saw fit.”

Guillermo Pérez Villalta’s work is entirely autobiographical: it is highly conditioned by his personality, his travels, and the places and spaces in which his life has unfolded, such as in the collections of postcards of the Rock of Gibraltar and the Costa del Sol. These images also reflect the artist’s interest in capturing and preserving the mix of popular culture, tradition and modern creativity that come together in modern-day Andalusia.

Pérez Villalta was born in Tarifa and has always maintained close ties with his birthplace. He has spent much of his life in this city that is close to the Rock of Gibraltar, where he also lived for a time. For this reason, and also due to the Rock’s history as a geographical area marked both by its imposing physical presence and its troubled political and strategic background, he collected postcards with views from both sides of Gibraltar: some from Algeciras and others from La Línea de la Concepción.

On the other hand, the Costa del Sol has always been a legendary place in this artist’s imagination, both for its architecture and its tourism. It is present in several pieces of his work, either on video or in drawings, paintings and this postcard collection.

Andalusian Contemporary Art Center
The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC) was created in February 1990 with the aim of giving the local community an institution for the research, conservation and promotion of contemporary art. Later the centre began to acquire the first works in its permanent collection of contemporary art.

In 1997 the Cartuja Monastery became the centre’s headquarters, a move which was to prove decisive in the evolution of the institution. The CAAC, an autonomous organisation dependent on the Andalusian Government (Junta de Andalucía), took over the collections of the former Conjunto Monumental de la Cartuja (Cartuja Monument Centre) and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla (Contemporary Art Museum of Seville).

From the outset, one of the main aims of the centre has been to develop a programme of activities attempting to promote the study of contemporary international artistic creation in all its facets. Temporary exhibitions, seminars, workshops, concerts, meetings, recitals, film cycles and lectures have been the communication tools used to fulfil this aim.

The centre’s programme of cultural activities is complemented by a visit to the monastery itself, which houses an important part of our artistic and archaeological heritage, a product of our long history.