press release

On 25 June, MUSAC will present the group exhibition The Cry, a selection of 28 works by 17 international artists examining the meaning of the scream as a primeval gesture from a plethora of contexts and perspectives, both on a political level and within the private field of human expression. Through works by Absalon, Lara Favaretto, Jesper Just, Teresa Margolles and Ugo Rondinone, among others, the show takes the groundbase of Expressionism as a frame of reference to identify the sentient meaning of that gesture for contemporary art. The Canadian artist Terence Gower has been commissioned with the exhibition design. At the same time, performance will play a major role in the show with projects by Loreto Martínez Troncoso, Von Calhau and El Resplandor, on view throughout the exhibition in a bespoke space called Plaza Pública.

The Cry takes its starting point from the scream as a violent gesture expressing a personal feeling, a pressing urge emitted to be heard or seen. The Cry examines a unique form of expression that could point to liberation or joy, but also to frustration and war. The works on view here address that primeval expression to point the way to transitions that may be both micropolitical and intimate, or macropolitical and socially weighted. The show features a carefully chosen selection of pieces that explore the political implications of the scream and its couplings with histories of independence, both in the colonial period as well as in the contemporary era, and of social struggle in general. In the realm of the private, it also cites the scream as a cry for help, a call to assemble or a voicing of fear and pleasure. While the scream may be an individual expression of anxiety, rage or eroticism, it is also the cry that declaims, announces and brings a community together.

While inevitably bringing to mind Munch’s The Scream, perhaps the most seminal visual icon of what we call Expressionism, the title of the exhibition also evokes this gesture’s direct connection with the History of Art. And though contemporary art practices in the last two decades have been read through the prism of 1960s and 1970s Conceptual Art, in its endeavour to identify the sentient meaning of the scream in present-day art this exhibition grounds its references in the core ideas of Expressionism.

The Cry includes 28 works by Absalon, Allora & Calzadilla, Hernan Bas, Irina Botea, , Luisa Cunha, El Resplandor, Lara Favaretto, Terence Gower, Jesper Just, David Maljkovic, Christian Marclay, Teresa Margolles, Loreto Martínez Troncoso, Olivia Plender, Ugo Rondinone, Javier Téllez and Von Calhau, produced mostly over the last ten years, that enable us to articulate the exhibition concept from various contexts and viewpoints. The exhibition design has been commissioned to the Canadian artist Terence Gower. Performance is also set to play a major role in the show, in a specific space conceived by Gower called Plaza Pública, where the Spanish artist Loreto Martínez Troncoso, the Mexican collective El Resplandor and the Portuguese collective von Calhau will present new projects to be performed on specific dates. Likewise, the British artist Olivia Plender will create a printed work in notebook format specifically for this project.

About the Artists

Absalon. 1964, Birth Ashod, Israel – 1993, Paris, France. Throughout his short-lived career, Absalon earned wide renown for his cellules, architectural models built on a 1:1 scale as housing units which, made of white painted wood and aesthetically dovetailing with air-raid shelters or cells in convents and monasteries, uncover his obsession for order. In just a few years, Absalon managed to create a highly coherent and extraordinarily complex body of work. In 2010, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin organised a retrospective of his work.

Allora & Calzadilla Jennifer Allora. 1974, Philadelphia, USA and Guillermo Calzadilla. 1971, Havana, Cuba. Live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Through the use of sculpture, photography, performance, sound and video, Allora & Calzadilla’s practice focuses on politically and socially concerned issues. In this regard, both the formal aspects of their work and the metaphors they generate are particular telling. They co-opt language and the etymology of words, harnessing their ability to connect different objects and to create symbolisms. Allora & Calzadilla’s works are included in the collections of Tate Modern, London; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Museion Bolzano; MoMA, New York; and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. They will represent the USA at the Venice Biennale in 2011.

Hernan Bas. 1978, Miami, USA. Lives and works between Miami and Detroit. The figures in Bas’s paintings have been captured at several different stages, from youth to adulthood, and from innocence to experience, in the private or in the public spheres, in an attempt to unveil the construction of identity and the diffraction of meaning, rendered in a tense painterly finish of vibrant colours and quick brushstrokes. His works are part of significant collections such as those of MoMA, New York; SFMoMA, San Francisco; MoCA, Los Angeles; and Saatchi Collection, London.

Irina Botea. 1970, Ploiesti, Romania. Lives and works in Chicago. Botea’s work endeavours to reinterpret the images of History as presented by the media, which are so often our sole source of information. Her videos rebuild historical events and their more or less active protagonists. Botea’s interest in the writing of her country’s contemporary history led to her concern with national anthems and how these pieces of music may generate mechanisms of protest and social negotiation. She has exhibited her work at Jeu de Paume, Paris; MNCARS, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and at the Gwangju Biennial.

Luisa Cunha. 1949, Lisbon, Portugal. Lives and works in Lisbon. Language, be it written or spoken, is the ground on which Cunha predicates her practice through texts or through sound and video installations. Her work is based on the relativity of the notion of life, dealing with social conventions, the thin line separating public and private spheres, and the fragmented nature of the “non-place”. She has exhibited in prestigious international venues such as MARCO, Vigo; Contemporary Art Center, Tel-Aviv; the Biennale of Sydney; De Apple, Amsterdam; and Museu Serralves, Porto, which organised a survey of her work in 2007.

El Resplandor. 2009, Mexico City. Live and work in Mexico City. Pia Camil, 1980, Mexico City, Mexico; Anajosé Aldrete, 1978, Mexico City, Mexico and Esteban Aldrete, 1984, Mexico City, Mexico. This young artists collective creates theatrical performances that mutate from minimalism to expressionism in an attempt to induce a state of trance in the beholder. Each event is specifically created, from costumes to stage sets, transforming the space in accordance with the group’s ceremonial intentions. In its brief life, the group has taken part at the latest edition of Art Basel Miami 2010 with a project by Museo Tamayo and MACO, in Mexico City, as well as in art galleries and alternative spaces.

Lara Favaretto. 1973, Treviso, Italy. Lives and works in Turin. From her earliest performances, installations and objects, Favaretto has often worked with the ambivalence of the grotesque and the feeling of resignation or failure. She uses ordinary objects and, by isolating them, gives visibility to their specific features or to their tragicomic dimension. On some occasions, the interaction of the spectator with the work is what really completes the meaning of the piece; other times, she creates situations in which she amplifies the playful and paradoxical side of the familiar, always with the intention of critiquing the established order. Her works have been seen at the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea; Fundación Jumex, Mexico City; Venice Biennale; and MoCA, Los Angeles.

Terence Gower. 1965, Vernon, Canada. Lives and works in New York. Gower’s work cuts across video, photography and installations, through which he examines the influences of the Modern Movement and its manifold manifestations in art, sculpture and architecture, either in America or in Europe. One of the most outstanding features of his work is the play of displacements of both time and space, the provocation of the spectator by means of a random manipulation of the reality of objects. That constant in his practice is expressed through the insertion of elements removed from the context, presented in such a way that they merge with the exhibition space. Gower has exhibited his works at, among other venues, the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Kunsthistorisches Institut, Bonn; Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris; Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil and Laboratorio Arte Alameda, both in Mexico City.

Jesper Just. 1974, Copenhagen, Denmark. Lives and works in New York. Through his critically acclaimed film work, Just introduces us into a world of fiction, of always unfinished and evocative stories, full of cinema references and influences reflected in the treatment of light, in changes of perspective and in an adroit handling of the camera. He has exhibited his works, among other venues, at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Kiasma, Helsinki; Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York; Kunsthalle Vienna; and Miami Art Museum.

David Maljkovic. 1973, Rikeja, Croatia. Lives and works in Zagreb. David Maljkovic borrows a number of monuments or emblematic constructions in the history of his country and uses them to create mechanisms questioning the legacy of modern utopias while confronting us with the collateral effects of the failure of the modernist project. He uses drawing, collage and video to reread the recent past, bringing to the fore the complexity of the contemporary world as well as the political, social and financial implications it brings with it. In his work, Maljkovic reveals the continuous movement generated by the new structures of power which also define other cartographies and set in place a different set of hierarchies and interests at a global level. Maljkovic’s work has been seen at MNCARS, Madrid; Pompidou Centre, Paris; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and the Sao Paulo Biennale.

Christian Marclay. 1955, San Rafael, USA. Lives and works in New York. An artist and composer, over the last thirty years Marclay has worked on the conflation of fine arts and music, using a whole range of supports to turn sounds into visible physical forms. One of the pioneers of the use of gramophone recordings as musical instruments in the creation of his sound collages, Marclay’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions including those held at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Tate Modern, London; and SFMoMA, San Francisco.

Teresa Margolles. 1963, Culiacán, Mexico. Lives and works in Mexico City. Margolles works with the traces of life made evident in shrouds, funerals, in memory, as well as in how a violent act destroys and affects human networks at various levels. Working across video, photography and installation, the artist strives to lend visibility to the complexity of relationships interwoven in contemporary megalopolises. As Cuauhtémoc Medina says, in her practice, Margolles “combines the heterogeneousness of a viewpoint fed on individual and subcultural negativity, opting right from the beginning for the risk of operating from one of the blind spots of our imaginary: the contact, learning and work with and on death.” Margolles represented Mexico at the 2009 Venice Biennale and has shown her work, among other venues, at Daros Latinamerica, Zurich; MALBA, Buenos Aires, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; MNCARS, Madrid; and Guggenheim, New York.

Loreto Martínez Troncoso. 1978, Vigo, Spain. Lives and works between Porto and Paris. In her essentially immaterial practice, this artist presents writing and words in the form of monologues, surveys or lectures. Particularly worth highlighting among her exhibitions and actions are those held and performed at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Arteleku, San Sebastian: Fundaçao Serralves, Porto; or MARCO, Vigo. At present Loreto Martínez Troncoso is part of the team of the Mugatxoan art project (

Olivia Plender. 1977, London, UK. Lives and works in Berlin. In her practice, Plender explores social history using illustrations, installations, performances, video and publications, with which she examines issues ranging from the history of the global financial system to religious movements such as Modern Spirituality. Her work has been exhibited at Gasworks, London; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt; Kiosk, Ghent; Art in General, New York; MACBA, Barcelona; and Tate Britain, London.

Ugo Rondinone. 1964, Brunnen, Switzerland. Lives and works between Zurich and New York. Since the mid 1980s, with titles frequently referencing literature, popular music, theatre and poetry, Rondinone’s works have evolved and been described as visionary pieces trapped within reality. Through the use of a range of media and styles, this artist has created dramatised and sensorial installations that mesmerise the spectator while dissecting the conflicts between the real and the imaginary. Rondinone represented Switzerland at the 2007 Venice Biennale and has had one-person shows in venues including Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Galleria Civica, Modena; Whitechapel Gallery, London, Pompidou Centre, Paris, and MUSAC.

Javier Téllez. 1969, Valencia, Venezuela. Lives and works in New York. In his films, Téllez combines documentary with fictional narratives to question the definition of normalcy and pathology. In collaboration with mentally handicapped persons, he rewrites classic stories or makes up new ones to create what he calls “cinematic passports” to allow those outside society to gain access to it. His works have been exhibited in spaces including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin; Whitney Museum, New York, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico; CGAC, Santiago; MUSAC; and MARCO, Vigo.

von Calhau, 2006. Live and work in Oporto. Marta Ângela and João Alves. Through a hard to classify practice expressed through performance, music and cinema, and with a markedly surrealist influence, particularly from Maya Deren, this collective explores notions such as religion, trance, psychedelia and the rural. Since 2006, the year when they began their collaborative work, their creations have been presented, among other spaces, at Galeria ZDB and Galeria Cristina Guerra, in Lisbon, and at Uma Certa Falta de Coerência, Porto. They also present their works on the Internet, a space in which they explore the language of games.