|Exhibition title: Existencias
Participating artists: Over 200 artists
held in the MUSAC Collection
Original idea, curator: MUSAC
Venue: MUSAC exhibition halls
Dates: 21 September 2007 - 6 January 2008
Existencias/ Project overview
On 21 September MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y LeĂłn, is to present Existencias, its third major project drawn from the MUSAC Collection after Emergencias, the museumâ€™s opening exhibition that began on 1 April, 2005 and Fusion, Aspects of Asian Culture in the MUSAC Collection, that took place between December, 2005 and April, 2006. The show will take over the museumâ€™s entire exhibition space (5 halls, Laboratorio 987 and the Showcase Project: over 4,000 sq m in total), introducing the work of over 200 Spanish and international artists held in the MUSAC Collection. Unlike the opening exhibition, which engaged with contemporary artistsâ€™ political and social concerns, Existencias does not follow a specific theme. On the contrary, it goes with the flow of art collectingâ€™s inherent tendency towards accumulation and selection. Through this cumulative presentation, reminiscent of the Baroque salons and cabinets, the intention is, on the one hand, to underline certain concepts inherent to generating an institutional collection (accumulation, a diversity and blending of disciplines), and on the other to reappraise our ways of seeing as determined by this cumulative use of space.
In line with the exhibition, the museum will publish Volume II; a progress report on the collection since 2005. The book covers a number of works by a total of 122 artists, focusing on those that have been shown in the museumâ€™s exhibitions to date. The book will also include essays and the worksâ€™ cataloguing details.
One of the projectâ€™s key elements is a seminar on art collecting today: Collecting Today, to be held on 6 and 7 October at MUSAC. Professionals from both public bodies (museums and institutions) and private initiatives (private collectors) will share their experiences, address their perceived threats and field suggestions, as part of a global assessment of the relevance of collecting in todayâ€™s international contemporary art world. MUSAC is an institution supported by the Castilla y LeĂłn Regional Governmentâ€™s Culture and Tourism Department, through the Siglo para las Artes Foundation.
Existencias / The Exhibition (Catalogue text by Rafael Doctor)
The MUSACâ€™s architectural space will be treated as a warehouse, where the works will be displayed in a way that is different from the usual manner in contemporary museography. We have resorted to the idea of the Baroque cabinet that defined the great salons until the early 20th century and was recovered to a certain extent by some avant-garde movements, in order to display works without the element of â€śblank spaceâ€ť, today so broadly accepted as the only possible context for reading a work of art. At the same time, by pre-empting any possibility of a dogmatic or linear reading of the exhibition, the aim of the exhibition is to leave the viewer entirely free to find his or her own path and approach to experiencing an exhibition such as this.
The intention in designing this show was to invert the physical space we operate in, thus transforming the exhibition halls into a true storage facility, where viewers can browse all the work that has been carried out to date and where a metaphor of our time could be provided through the trends that the MUSAC collectionâ€™s progression has gradually defined.
Themes, works, authors and media will be mixed and mismatched within a space conceived as a diverse galaxy rich in surprises and excess. A journey through the exhibition will be suggested as a grand experience, likely to challenge the viewer with a barrage of questions, not only regarding the nature of art today, but also and more essentially, on the world we live in. Without the cover of a topic, hanging work in its bare directness, devoid of the usual sublimation provided by an empty space, the intention is to generate an unexpected conversation, and above all to allow each viewer to develop a new awareness.
The collectionâ€™s works in two dimensions will be hung in an arrangement resembling storage racks, whilst sculptures will be given only the space they strictly require. The only element resembling a plotline to the exhibition will be an indication of those works that have been shown in the museum over the past two years, as opposed to those that are new to the public.
Though the initial intention was to show all the works acquired by MUSAC since establishing its collection, many have been left out due to limitations of space. However, the idea of cramming the halls to capacity with as much art as possible capturing the sense of accumulation implicit to any collection has been preserved. Volumes I and II will merge together, seeking a critical response to the noise generated by their sheer physical presence.
Though the viewing experience is suggested as an immersion into a multifarious galaxy, there will be a core spatial progression defined by certain works that speak for themselves on the issues we intend to raise. The course sets out from Montserrat Sotoâ€™s installation Paisaje secreto (Secret Landscape). Doors leading onto different private collections are a first step into our own. Likewise, Alicia MartĂnâ€™s wall of exploding books, ContemporĂˇneos, draws our attention to a universe where accumulation will be the guiding thread, leading into an oversized cabinet crammed with works, not unlike Candida HĂ¶ferâ€™s vision of a hall at the Louvre, or the vast landscape of paintings created by Perejaume. We are facing the cumulative excess of Western history itself. Beyond this point, a massive cabinet nearly 80 m long will display an array of the Collectionâ€™s paintings and photographs in different media and on different themes. In parallel to this space, Julian Rosefeldtâ€™s piece Asylum will be shown as a metaphor of a diverse world governed by work where unity cannot be. Other installations and sculptures by Marina Abramovic, William Kentridge, Christian Jankowski, Tobias Rehberger, Hussein Chalayan and Paul Pfeiffer, amongst others, will lead the way to MUSACâ€™s main hall, which will be hung with most of the collectionâ€™s two dimensional work shown in previous exhibitions. Here we will see the deposit in deposit. The path will continue through works revolving around light and direct experience of it, with pieces by Daniel Canogar, Jennifer Steinkamp, Atom Egoyan, Juliao Sarmento and Charles Sandison. Finally, a large hall with works by Wolfgang Tillmans, MP & MP Rosado, Maximo Vitali, Francesc Ruiz and Barry McGee, all loaded with an excess of visual noise, will complete the course, which will however be left open through its extensions in the Showcase, displaying a selection of drawings, and Laboratorio 987, with Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parrenoâ€™s work Zidane: A 21st century portrait.
A quest through excess for an exhibition that intends to discuss that very excess. A path of suggestion where viewers are forced to engage and adopt a personal stance when faced with contemporary works in an unfamiliar presentation.
MUSAC Collection Volume II. The book
The works included in the book MUSAC Collection Volume II are the result of our collecting work since 2005. There is no defining feature that might set aside this volume from the previous, since it is conceived as a natural progression from the first, with no variations to the principles set forth when initially establishing the MUSAC Collection. The volume contains different works by 122 artists. Priority is given to pieces previously shown on occasion of an exhibition at the museum, and to those we have made an active contribution to.
As before, the reader will not find a predictable catalogue, but rather a highly particular list, in line with a clearly defined set of criteria that we believe we have abided by since the outset. Except for the architectural model Flower House by Japanese architects SANAA, the media represented follow the same lines as in the previous volume, with the accent placed on video, installations, photography and painting. On the one hand, we have refrained from breaking the works up into any kind of category. They are presented on their own, free from any encompassing design, as has generally been the case in the museum space itself. Again, the essence lies in a diversity of themes, techniques, and resolutions. Established international names appear side by side with others who are new or unfamiliar to the broad contemporary art public. Spanish proposals sit comfortably next to work from abroad, responding to the visible under-representation of Spanish art away from home.
Many of these authors were already included in Volume I and they will probably continue to appear in future editions. Far from curtailing the possibility of an artistâ€™s profusion in the collection, we have chosen to engage with their work, so long as we feel they continue to evolve and grow within their own discourse.
List of artists from MUSAC Collection (.pdf)
Press Release (.pdf)
Seminar Collecting Today