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

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Under the title Abajo la inteligencia (Down with Intelligence), Fernando Sánchez Castillo presents a complex reflection on 20th-century Spanish history, through a selection of sculptural, pictorial and audiovisual works. Hosted by the MUSAC, the show offers insight into three aspects linking the central ideas behind this artist’s work. First, the importance of statues and monuments, such as the lions flanking the entrance to the Spanish parliament, or referring to overthrown heroes; and elements from our collective memory, such as the car in which former Spanish Prime Minister Carrero Blanco was travelling when he was assassinated. Second, the need to redraw history, hybridising the comic and journalistic illustrations used prior to photography. And third, two videos, one of which, RichCat Dies ofHeart Attack in Chicago (screened at the 26th Biennial of São Paulo in 2004), shows people pushing the enormous head of a statue. Baraka, the second video, produced specially for the occasion, muses on the history of Spain itself and, more particularly, on the idea of destiny linked to power. The MUSAC is an initiative of the regional government of Castile and León in conjunction with the Fundación Siglo.

In Rich Cat Dies of Heart Attack in Chicago, the image of people pushing the head of a statue is linked to the symbology of the overthrown dictator. The title is an allusion to censorship taken to extremes, which thus becomes its negation, since the jarringly absurd statement has been borrowed from a Brazilian newspaper headline which appeared on the very day that freedom of the press was outlawed. Thus, through a strategy taken almost from Dadaism or Surrealism, the “unspeakable” was spoken about.

Abajo la inteligencia (Down with Intelligence) The show’s title refers to the notorious confrontation which took place in the auditorium of the University of Salamanca on 12 October 1936 –during the celebration of the Spanish national holiday (then known literally as the Festival of the Race, now, Hispanic Day)- between the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno and José Millán Astray, founder of the Spanish Foreign Legion. The latter reacted with these angry words to the final attempt at an ethical posture in the face of the enforced imposition of social and moral codes based on the negation of reflection: “Down with intelligence! Long live death! Intellectuals, you have lost Spain.”

This exhibition focuses on events and objects which have shaped much of the individual character of Spanish society today. Heroes and myths from the Franco era and the defence of the object hold the meaning of Spain’s past. Here each work alludes to specific historical events that evoke past episodes and in turn guide the spectator through the whole exhibition.

In selecting the pieces, an attempt is made to use the creative process as a tool to tap knowledge of the present and the Spanish visual imagination. Artistic activity is used as a communication vehicle capable of shedding light on certain dark moments of our country which other disciplines, such as history or philosophy, have failed to clarify. Analysis of Spanish Civil War conduct has led Fernando Sánchez Castillo to consider the stereotypes of revolutionary uprisings and overthrows of dictators by the people. Violence, which is implicit throughout his oeuvre, statuary work and the entire symbology of the object and power are subjects which this artist returns to time and again.

His fascination with Spanish history and, more especially, the Civil War and postwar era, supposes an attraction to the revolutionary, the political and, it goes without saying, the social. Civilians, soldiers, dictators, histories of winners and losers: in short, it’s a show about the convulsive historical processes of the 20th century.

Fernando Sánchez Castillo’s artistic practice is based fundamentally on concepts. Through sculpture, drawing and video he examines the relation between art and power, alluding to collective historical memory, and proving, moreover, the power that certain symbols still wield in our society. Monument, document, public space and tradition become tools for disinterring our most recent past.

The MUSAC’s collection includes several of this artist’s works, such as the videos Arquitectura para el Caballo (Architecture for the Horse), Canicas (Marbles) and Spot, or Vivo sin trabajar (I Live Without Working), the installation seen in Emergencies, the MUSAC’s inaugural exhibition.

Fernando Sánchez Castillo, biographical note Fernando Sánchez Castillo (Madrid, 1970) holds one degree in Fine Arts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and a second in Philosophy and Aesthetics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He has given important solo exhibitions both in Spain and abroad, most notably Anamnesis, La Casa Encendida cultural centre (2003); El arte dentro del arte (Art Within Art), Church of the Monastery of Our Lady of Prado, Valladolid (2004); Mercury Retrograde at the De Appel Foundation, Rotterdam, (2006); Ieder het Zijne / To Each His Own at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Rotterdam and Manu Militaris, at the Santa Monica art centre, Barcelona (2006). He has also participated in group exhibitions, such as Abracadabra, Tate Gallery of Modern Art, London (1999); Appartement, Deichtorhallen. Hamburg, Germany, (2001); The Real Royal Trip (travelling exhibition), P.S.1. MOMA, New York (2003) and Registros contra el tiempo (Registers Against Time), Marcelino Botín Foundation, Santander (2006). He has also shown at such leading fairs and biennials as the different editions of ARCO (Madrid), Art 34 Basel (2003) and the 26th São Paulo Biennial (2004). Fernando Sánchez Castillo has received numerous awards and obtained different grants and residencies, including the Marcelino Botín Foundation Grant, Santander (2000), the Project Grant, Generación 2002, Caja Madrid (2002) and the Rijkakademie Grant, Amsterdam (2005-2006). His work belongs to such prestigious art collections as the FNAC, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France ; ARCO Foundation; Galician Centre of Contemporary Art (CGAC), Santiago de Compostela; INJUVE, Youth Institute, Ministry of Social Affairs; Alcorcón City Hall, Madrid; Fondation Jean Marc Salomón, Annecy, France ; Spanish Open University (UNED), Madrid; Ministry of Culture, Regional Government of Cantabria; NMAC Foundation, Montenmedio, Vejer, Cadiz; and the MUSAC Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León.

Tania Pardo, biographical note Tania Pardo (Madrid, Spain, 1976) is an art historian, critic and exhibition curator. She currently lives in León where she is Coordinator of Exhibitions, Projects and Grants. She is also curator of Laboratorio 987 of MUSAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León, where she has organised exhibitions such as Hot or Not by Silvia Prada; Sonidos lejanos / Distant Sounds by Fikret Atay; Esconde la mano (Hide Your Hand) by Abigail Lazkoz; Between Us by Ryan McGinley and Mucho ruido y pocas nueces II (Much Ado About Nothing II) by Wilfredo Prieto. These shows were followed in 2006 by Monika Sosnowska’s Untitled, Philipp Fröhlich’s Exvoto. Where is Nikki Black? and Pauline Fondevila’s November Song, to be held from November 2006 to January 2007. Also at the MUSAC, in 2005 Tania Pardo coordinated the exhibition Enrique Marty: Flaschengeist, The German’s Cottage, curated by Estrella de Diego and in 2006 the exhibition misojosentusojosderramándose (My Eyes Spilling Into Yours) by the León artist Daniel Verbis, curated by Javier Hernando. She was adjunct curator of the show Globos Sonda, Trial Balloons together with Agustín Pérez Rubio, Yuko Hasegawa and Octavio Zaya, and curator of HipnÓptico by Felicidad Moreno. In the field of art criticism, Ms Pardo has been a regular contributor to Exit Express, Exit Books, Revista Internacional Lápiz, Cimal, Arco-noticias, Matador, El Correo de Arco, ¿Qué hago yo aquí?, etc. She has also edited El Periódico del Arte. Furthermore, she has published in various exhibition catalogues. Other activities include coordinating catalogues, courses and seminars, and performing tasks related to press and communication management for different institutions.

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Down with Intelligence
Fernando Sanchez Castillo (Madrid, 1970)
Kurator: Tania Pardo