Tabakalera, San Sebastian

TABAKALERA | Mandasko Dukearen Pasealekua, 52 / Gipuzkoa
20012 San Sebastian

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artist / participant

press release

Tabakalera presents The Music of Ramón Raquello and his Orchestra, the first large scale solo exhibition by Eric Baudelaire in a public institution in Spain.

The exhibition draws its title from a fictional conductor whose radio performance was continuously disrupted by newsflash broadcasts heralding an alien invasion in Orson Welles’ rendition of the War of the Worlds, aired in 1938. Spanning a decade of artistic production including installation, print, photography and film, the exhibition follows Baudelaire’s sustained attempts to find a form that accommodates the catastrophic complexity of contemporary life, interweaving fiction with considerations on fear, the media and the power of words and images.

Eric Baudelaire’s work often creates or exploits tension between stories and histories, the objective and subjective, text and image, underlining the ways in which political narratives are constructed. In his latest film, Also Known As Jihadi (2017), co-produced with Tabakalera’s support, and screened at the exhibition, Baudelaire extends his interest to judicial narratives. The film follows the progress of a young man’s journey from France to Syria, and back to France where he is currently incarcerated for allegedly joining Daesh. The work employs the so-called landscape theory (fukeiron in Japanese). This theory originated in the film AKA Serial Killer (1969), co-directed by Masao Adachi, who was the subject of Baudelaire’s film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images (2011) (screening at Tabakalera on 30th June). Also Known As Jihadi is a possible story of a man told through the places he has lived in. A series of landscapes contextualized by extracts from court documents: police interrogations, wiretaps, surveillance reports and so on. Together, they form a new kind of genre film, a slow legal thriller that translates Baudelaire's sense of loss in the face of the incomprehensible, a feeling matched by the intuition that the incomprehensible must nonetheless have its reasons.

The exhibition also includes Baudelaire's 2014 project The Secession Sessions, a hybrid installation that reflects on the question of statehood through the prism of the stateless state of Abkhazia. The work is composed of several elements. The first is the film Letters to Max, based on a correspondence between Baudelaire and Maxim Gvinjia, former Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. The second is the Anembassy of Abkhazia, operated in person by Maxim during the first week of the exhibition, and via skype for the duration of the exhibition. The Anembassy is a performance with no official function that operates as a ritual that is both real (after all, Max was Foreign Minister) and a fiction, but a fiction meant in a very political sense: fiction as a territory of resistance for those who have no space in the real.

The exhibition has been co-commissioned with Witte de With Contemporary Art Centre in Rotterdam where it ran from last January to May.