MUSAC Leon

MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León / Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses, 24
ES-24008 Leon

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artists & participants

press release

Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum present a project around the changing values of labour and property, examining alternative personal and political readings of common cultural heritage. As the artists have explained, “Klaas’s grandfather belonged to a generation for whom ‘free time’ should be spent doing something productive. When he retired from work, he had his former colleagues at the factory weld together a lathe for him, so that he could take up woodturning. In old age, he was able to augment his modest pension by selling the products of his hobby to the community that formed his social network at that time. When he died, he left his son a cigar box filled with magazine clippings, sketches and blueprints of different objects made by turning wood, with the idea that it might come in handy some day.”

Jaio and van Gorkum have taken the contents of this box as the point of departure for a conceptual and reflexive exploration of the notion of artistic production. During the previous year they have been tracing what is left of the legacy of Gorkum’s grandfather, Jos van Gorkum (1911–1996), locating almost eighty items in the homes of an extended network of family, friends and former neighbours across the Netherlands. A selection of around thirty of these handcrafted artefacts – including candlestick holders, bowls, lamp bases, stands for houseplants and gavels – have been borrowed from their owners to be displayed in the exhibition at MUSAC, and are shown alongside photographs of these objects in their original home environment. The artists were also able to recuperate the original machine on which they were made, and have put it back into operation. Documenting their steps on video as they went along, they have been carrying out a series of woodturning experiments, connecting their physical actions as artists (and professional dilettantes) to the productivity of the retired factory worker. The results of these experiments will be incorporated into the installation at the Laboratorio 987.

On Amikejo Amikejo is a series of four exhibitions at the Laboratorio 987 of MUSAC that is structured around relational and spatial twinning. This is most evident in the fact that the artists of each installment are formed by two collaborating individuals, as is Latitudes, the curatorial office formed by Max Andrews & Mariana Cánepa Luna invited to conceive the season. These artistic pairings involve various modes of binomial friendships – couples in life, dedicated duos, intermittent work partners, as well as new allies. The artist partnerships involve an overall 50–50 split of male and female practitioners, as well as Spanish-speaking and foreign origins.

The series encompasses a further register of doubling prompted by a critical reflection on the conditions and expectations of a ‘project space’ such as Laboratorio 987 within today’s contemporary art museum. Such a site is typically annexed from a hosting institution, independent yet attached, with the understanding that different, more ad-hoc and agile laws apply. Nonconformist and at the same time authorized, and following spatial theories such as Michel Foucault’s ‘heterotopia’, a project space is a typology that is neither here nor there. Shadowing Robert Smithson’s concept of the ‘non-site’ (an indoor artwork physically and mentally paired with an outdoor site), the Laboratorio 987 space has been assigned a relation with a specific remote location for the 2011 season: Amikejo.

Amikejo was an anomalous in-between state which never entirely existed, and was founded on a desire to foster more effective international communication through the synthetic language Esperanto. Following treaties of the early 19th Century, a tiny 3½ km2 wedge of land between the Netherlands, Belgium and Prussia was established as a neutral area because of an important zinc mine. In 1908 the 2,500 identity-less citizens of Neutral Moresnet, as it was known, declared it to be the world’s first Esperanto state: Amikejo (‘place of great friendship’ in Esperanto). A national anthem was constituted and stamps and a flag were designed. Yet in the wake of the first World War, Germany relinquished its claim to the disputed territory, and Amikejo-Moresnet disappeared from the map as it became part of Belgium, although border markers still exist to this day.

This episode-place, and ultimately, failure, was a unique synthesis of cartography, language, nationhood, politics, economics and subjectivity, and is entreated as a twin site to Laboratorio 987 by lending its name and conceptual borders to the exhibition series. This association not only implicates the spatial functions of the ‘neutral’ spaces of art – how they endorse otherwise unremarkable things with a ‘special’ status – yet also establishes a similitude with the desire to institute a shared and effective means of communication, between participants and with the world.

On Latitudes Latitudes is an independent Barcelona-based curatorial office initiated in April 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna. Latitudes collaborates with artists and institutions in the conception, organisation and production of exhibitions, public commissions, conferences, editorial and research initiatives across local, pan-European and international situations. Latitudes is on the editorial board of Archive Books, Turin/Berlin, is a curatorial advisor for APT Intelligence, collaborates with Vena (por la), is part of Plataforma Curatorial as well as being on Hangar's Programming Committee 2010–12. Latitudes was awarded the GAC 2010 curatorial award given by the Catalan gallery association.

Max Andrews Max (Bath, UK, 1975) studied Critical Fine Art Practice (BA Hons) at the University of Brighton (1995–98) and graduated in the MA Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London (2001–03). He was Associate Editor of Contemporary Visual Arts magazine (1998–2000) and Curatorial Fellow at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2003–04) where he assisted in projects with artists including Kiki Smith, Christian Marclay and Thomas Hirschhorn. As Special Projects Curatorial Assistant to Director, Tate Collection, London (2004–05), he was responsible for several key acquisitions for the permanent collection including pieces by Luciano Fabro, Lawrence Weiner, Juan Muñoz and Rodney Graham. He is a regular contributor to Frieze and has contributed to magazines including Tate Etc., British Birds, Untitled, Art&Co, DADDY, SUM, Mousse, Spike, Karriere and UOVO and has been a contributing essayist for publications including Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections (2005); Henrik Håkansson (Dunkers Kulturhus, Sweden, 2005 and Museo Tamayo, México City, 2008–9); Frieze Art Fair Yearbooks (2005–10); Day for Night: Whitney Biennial 2006; Brave New Worlds (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2007–8); Life on Mars: 55th Carnegie International 2008 and Haegue Yang (sala rekalde, Bilbao, 2008–9).

Mariana Cánepa Luna Mariana (Montevideo, Uruguay, 1977) graduated in Art History (Universitat de Barcelona, 1995–2000) and studied Cinema History (DAMS, Università degli Studi di Bologna, 1999) before completing an MA in Curating Contemporary Art (Royal College of Art, London, 2002–4). She has worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice (2000) and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, where as a curatorial intern assisted in the production and installation of the retrospective Frank Gehry, Architect (2001). Following this, she assisted at the US (2000) and the UK Pavilions (2003) during the Venice Biennale. Between 2004–5 she worked at the Serpentine Gallery as a Fondation de France Curatorial Fellow, where she initiated a project commission piloting the FdF’s Nouveaux Commanditaires model in London and, parallel to this, organised the conference ‘Art in the Public Realm’, presenting four international models of commissioning art for the public space. She has contributed to magazines such as Untitled, ArteContexto, Art&Co, SUM, Frieze, Mousse and UOVO and as a contributing writer in publications including Brave New Worlds (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2007–8); Estratos, PAC Murcia (2008); Artistic Interventions, Expo Zaragoza (2008) and Before Everything, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (2010).

only in german

Amikejo
Iratxe Jaio
Klaas van Gorkum
Kuratoren: Latitudes (Max Andrews & Mariana Canepa Luna)