portada de BMM

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 of events:
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" movement.
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 be organized.
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). (...)