TOPICAL ACTIONS – ATOPICS
Curator: Carlos García de Castro
Inauguration: September 28 at 7:00 p.m.
From September 28 to November 24, 2018
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:00 p.m. 8:30 pm.
Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
“The Power and Limits of Urban Art in Relation to Processes of Social Transformation”
Carlos García de Castro, Curator.
Conference on September 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Family Trabelsi house to which Leila Trabelsi, ex-dictator Ben Ali’s wife, belongs after the passage of the collective Z, I.T. (2011)
The world of Urban Art is a contradictory place, where the good intentions that accompany processes of social change can supplant or set aside a considered analysis of the real possibilities for success. During the Tunisian Revolution, there was an explosion of artistic manifestations that are now in decline, but that nevertheless served some of the artists to gain prestige and a place in the art world. Others artists went into oblivion. Nonetheless, the symbolic force generated at that time is still a source of inspiration for the aspirations of a people who dream of building a country with a ‘future’.
This presentation is devoted to analyzing this moment of artistic explosion and the traces that can still be followed. In addition, the second part of the presentation is dedicated to the figure of the urban creator DosJotas, in the context of his exhibition Topical – Atopic Actions at 13ESPACIOarte.
Carlos García de Castro is curator and independent cultural critic since 2009. He has organized exhibitions such as ‘Yo no tengo Razón’ (2009) in the Off Limits space of Madrid, ‘Rainy Andalusia: Voices beyond the imaginary cañí’ (2016) in the Sublima space of Seville or ‘La Canción Bajo la Pirámide’ (2017) in the Sevilla Electric Chair. He also directed the paper ‘Conversations about art, society, economy and power. Lounge Around Jaar ‘realized in the CAAC of Seville in the year 2011.
In his facet of critic he has published in specialized means like ARTECONTEXTO or the Green Stripe. In addition, he directed the radical review magazine NOTON between 2009 and 2013 and he was a member of the F.S.S.I. (International Symbolic Relief Front).
He currently resides in Tunisia where he teaches Spanish at the Cervantes Institute and teaches History of Art at I.S.L.G. of Gabès.
The image of Spain based on docile, domesticated and indolent clichés becomes, within the global capitalist order, a lure to attract tourists and feed a predatory economy based on land and labor. This is something that we cheerfully refer to as ‘The Sun and Sand Economy’. With this as a starting point, for the exhibition Topical Actions – Atopic at 13ESPACIOarte (Seville), the urban artist DosJotas traces the Spain brand in a journey through the different identities. The work reflects ironically upon the use of culture in the construction of a collective imaginary that is alienated and reoriented towards economic value. From this perspective, the visitor can find clues to deconstruct this idea of nation with which we are constantly bombarded, an idea that only serves to strengthen our own chains.
In Seville, the primary economic engine is the sale of historical monuments turned into fetishes along with the hotel trade. This union, whose fruit is low skilled jobs and the gentrification of the city center, is the theme of the artwork, Thank you for your Visit (2018). For the artwork, the artist uses napkins taken from bars and places them on a map of the city. The napkins hide the drawings of monumental enclaves. The action NO8DO (2018) reflects upon Seville as a city with few opportunities, that has become for young people a prison from which to flee. NO8DO is the motto and logo of Seville. This artwork – whose image appeared for the first time printed in number 8 of the magazine NOTON (2013, Seville) -, consists of the creation of a sticker with the modified city motto, where the 8 in the form the “skein” of Alfonso X is replaced by a barbed wire eight. The artist placed the stickers in specific locations in the Andalusian capital. In the gallery, the artist exhibits a large format flag with photographs that document the action displayed underneath.
The gentrification of the historic center of Seville, where the garbage containers are shut under lock and key during the night while the mailboxes for donations to churches remain open, is the point of departure for the action Glory Hole (2018). For this work DosJotas made a nocturnal intervention during which he opened all the garbage cans in the city center. A video of the intervention is shown in 13ESPACIOarte.
Continuing with the reflection on the idea of ‘Whose street is it, anyway?’, the artist presents the work, Altar Contemporáneo/Contemporary Altar (2018). In this work, DosJotas presents an altar that imitates the multitude of altars that populate the Guadalquivir metropolis and in which the central saint has been replaced by the text of Article 16 of our Constitution. Article 16 refers to ideological and religious freedom. In this way, he jokes ironically about the state of the supposed secularism of the city government that recently took the activists of the group, Coño Insumiso (Innocent Pussy) to trial. In the gallery, the installation is accompanied by the documentation of Capirotes (Hoods) action (2018), in which the artist installed the omnipresent Nazarene hoods on different street bollards.
Seville, leisure circuit for tourists and sleepy city dedicated to the contemplation of its own navel is also one of the main venues of the National Festival: Bullfighting. This is especially true during the Feria de Abril, when the Maestranza Bullring offers its best offerings for locals and strangers alike. In DosJotas’ opinion, this festival, which became the quintessential archetype of what is Spanish, is representative of what is most retrograde in our culture. This is evident in his piece Fiesta Nazional (2018), in which the artist intervenes on a bullfighting cape by writing the title of the piece on it.
If until now tourism and the city’s dedication to the generation of economic value have been the focus of the exhibition Topical Actions – Atopic, the artwork Spanish Dream (2017) reflects upon how these phenomena influence the working class, in particular the youth who during the last decade have tried to join the labor market. Spanish Dream, made and exhibited for the first time in Cartagena during the Festival Mucho Más Mayo within the program (Re)lecturas, is organized along two axes: the emigration of the population in search of better opportunities and tourism or construction as the only careers really accepted. Here, at 13ESPACIOarte, DosJotas exhibits photographic documentation of the project – which consisted of the creation of objects such as towels with logos and advertising marquees with slogans – along with the installation of a storefront in the form of a beach shop that incorporated these objects.
This atmosphere of the “country for sale” through the exploitation of its clichés, exporter of cheap qualified labor, and the creator of underemployed people in at home, is made explicit in the artwork, Menu of the Day/Daily Specials (2018). This creation consists of the realization of a blackboard that imitates those used by tapas bars to announce their specials to passers-by. On the blackboard, instead of the menu, is a comparative table of the average prices for a cup of coffee, a beer, a kilo of potatoes, a subway ticket, a cinema ticket and the minimum salary in various European countries – Spain, France, Germany and England.
Having witnessed economic ruin, how do you keep the population from rebelling? DosJotas responds to this question with Bombas de Humo/ Smoke Pumps (2017). The artwork documents an action carried out in Asturias where the artist placed soccer balls in the mouths of old bronze cannons, symbolizing the power of Soccer as an instrument for the mastery of the passions and of catharsis of the increasingly hopeless masses. The images are accompanied by a video of election celebrations and rallies of both new and old political parties, all a hymn to the restoration of the regime after the brief pause caused by the unsuccessful 15M.
In Estado Patriarcal/ Patriarchal State (2015) the artist turns his gaze towards another pillar of societal oppression: patriarchy. This action was carried out in La Rambla, Córdoba, during the International Day against Gender Violence. It consisted of the inscription of sexist phrases spewed by our politicians on garbage containers. In the exhibition, the photographs of the intervention are shown in a grid surrounded by daily catcalls that women continue to suffer in the streets of our cities.
As a culmination to the exhibition at 13ESPACIOarte we find the piece Huellas Económicas/Economic Footprints (2016), an action of great poetic force executed in different parts of the Spanish coast. The project consisted of the creation of flip flops that imprinted the sand with the euro symbol when used to walk on the beach. The sea, a historical place of transit, of cultural exchanges, a generator of life … is transformed today into a mere leisure space and dumping ground for the greater glory of the tyranny of the merchandise; that consumes marine life in the plastic holocaust and squanders human existence on boats made of sticks.
Carlos García de Castro
In Seville, September 2018