EXPERIÈNCES. BARCELONA ART
REPORT 2001". THE DIFFICULT GESTATION
OF BARCELONA'S TRIENNAL EXHIBITION
BY Mercè Ibarz
January 2001. When Barcelona's triennal exhibition will start
at the Cccb (Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture), the Macba
(Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) and the Virreina palace
in late May this year - but a few days earlier than the first
Valencia's Biennal Exhibition whose inauguration in June is already
being celebrated with great fanfare -, four long months will have
passed since, in late January, the event was given its final name
: "Experiènces. BCN report 2001". A change of
name which, according to the organizers, ought to bring forth
a radical change in attitudes and patterns in contemporary biennal
exhibitions which they criticize for being nothing but a vehicle
- practically a long-distance coach - that merely drives the same
artists to different cities around the world, thus creating a
kind of "biennal connection" between these cities. The
Barcelona event, which will take place every three years, makes
it a point to be different from the start, to the extent that
it is actually a triennal exhibition. That decision was taken
in late January, when plans were being outlined with regard to
the final shape in which the event - under the generic name of
"Experiènces" - would be presented to the public
in that first celebration (or rather "zero celebration",
as one of the managers, Ferran Mascarell, prefers to call it).
In summary, this year's programme of
events is broadly the following:
o A series of heterogeneous exhibitions in the Ciutat Vella district,
which is to say at the three public art centres that co-ordinate
the triennal, as well as at Santa Mònica, a venue run by
the Catalan Generalitat, which will contribute with a single exhibition.
The scheduled exhibitions are : "Vostè està
aquí" (You are here), at the Virreina palace, a display
of sample works illustrative of contemporary creation in Barcelona;
"Antagonismes" (Antagonisms), at the Macba, the result
of a research on critical artistic attitudes in the second half
of the twentieth century; "Africa avui: l'artista i la ciutat"
(Africa today: the artist and the city), at the Cccb, an exhibition
centred around African artistic creation in different cities,
including some European cities heavily populated by African immigrants;
and "Trans-Sexual Express Barcelona 2001", at Santa
Mònica, an exhibition of works by Xabier Arakistain and
Rosa Martinez produced under the aegis of the Catalan Generalitat
and which focuses on the play on identities and genres.
o All these exhibitions have been produced by the art centres
they are held at and specially planned for the triennal event
which has, moreover, been alloted a specific budget of 250 million
pesetas. This money will be used to finance the following programme
o A succession of street performamces of a more or less "activist"
nature which are intended to occupy - we could almost say "squat
in" - the old Raval district presently disrupted by remodelling
works and which are organized by the Macba and the diverse "agencies"
that are collaborating with the museum. The activities of these
"agencies" will be co-ordinated by the "La Fiambrera
Obrera" group and will bring together international companies
such as "Prêt à révolter", "Reclaim
the street" or "Ne pas plier". They represent the
imaginative element in today's critical art, related to the "Dada"
o Thematic exhibitions set up in other parts of the Raval district,
such as: "El cinema i la ciutat global" (Cinema and
the global city) and "Un-Private House" (centred around
the dialectic of public space versus private space), put on by
the Cccb and the Macba, respectively.
o Workshops within which the production of art works will be open
to diverse artists and to the active involvement of the public,
supervised by artists from the "L'Hangar" group and
housed in the old "Sepu" building on the Rambla.
o Two "meeting places", one of them physical and the
other one on the Internet. The physical meeting place will probably
be located on the ground floor of the "Sepu" building.
o A performers' workshop, "Etno-Tecno", set up by the
Macba, through which different performances in the Chapel of the
Old Hospital as well as a series of lectures at the Cccb will
o A few more or less obvious "provocative actions" that
will take place in the hard core of the so-called "Barri
Xinó", led by independent artist Rosa Martínez;
"Projecte per el confinament en un vaixell de càrrega
de vint persones remunerades per a jornada de quatre hores pel
període que duri Experiences" (Project for the confinement
in a cargo ship of twenty people paid on a four-hour working-day
basis for the duration of "Experiènces"), an
experiment devised by the Hispano-Mexican Santiago Sierra and
which is to be held in the harbour; a garden designed by Egyptian
painter Gadha Amer on the Rambla del Raval; and "Global warming",
a project by the Argentinian Sergio Sierra that will be carried
out on the Rambla.
o A celebration in the cemetery of memory in the recently condemned
fairground on the Montjuïc hill: "Ex", a project
that originates with the Virreina.
o Events organized by the School of Architecture under the auspices
of the Cccb: "Us de l'Espai públic i arquitectura"
(Architecture and the use of public space), on the de la Palmera,
Letamendi and dels Angels squares, and "Intimitat, arquitectura
i nous ciutadans" (Privacy, architecture and new citizens),
in a block of flats in the Ciutat Vella district.
o The exhibition "Processos de documentació"
(Documenting processes) held in the Chapel of the Old Hospital,
a project carried out jointly by the Icub and the Macba.
o A bimonthly magazine scheduled to be published from June until
October. There is a possibility that the publication might continue,
albeit with more spaced out issues, until 2004, the year that
will see the second celebration of "Experiènces".
o A debate : "Experiènces i Món" (Experiences
and World), scheduled for October and which is to be co-ordinated
by Albanian writer Bashkim Sehu, an exile who lives in Barcelona.
Afterwards, it will be time to make the final preparations for
2004, the magical date announced for the "Forum de les Cultures"
(Forum of Cultures). (...)