"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)

David G. Torres has been working away for a while now considering what happened in the late seventies and early eighties: COUM Transmissions and Chris Burden, Siouxsie and Valie Export, the Dead Kennedys and Lynda Benglis, Radio Futura and Talking Heads. As if in the last death throes of utopia, of it doesn´t matter what you do, nor how you do it. Hence he has tried to exhibitions, texts... Always seeking to think critically, contrariwise, against the grain. And sometimes, almost managing.

19 December 2012

The exhibition "A place no cars go", that Quim Packard set up in his studio, ends today. It has only been on for a few weeks and it was necessary to call before visiting. It brings together proposals that in some way or another are close to Quim and to an idea that he has been working around or detecting in the cultural context: a certain return to the origins, to intimate refuge or an escape back to nature.

Eva Engelbert shows a video filmed in a house in the mountains or a mountain refuge with individuals who form part of a commune or are simply a group of friends doing things together – cooking, dancing, chatting- we don´t really know why. Wytske van Keulen, with a series of slides documents the life of two people, an old woman afflicted with cancer and a man who has lost his family, who’ve retired to live in solitude in Provence. A huge painting by Pere Llobera shows a cave and other paintings by Mercedes Magranye natural, rural spaces, plein air pieces. Marijn van Krein shows three drawings of the same image of Kurt Cobain –a reference in the exhibition – from a huge series of drawings of the same motif that she has been doing mechanically for years. Mimosa Echard shows an erased painting and the photograph of a chimney with the leaf of a bush (¿?). Finally, a video documents the strange nocturnal stroll through the park of Collserola by Gerard Ortín that Caterina Almirall; talked about. Guim Camps has installed some swings in the centre of the space that refers to a group of young people who dedicate their time to climbing trees and jumping between them and David Armengol has taken care of the musical selection, with songs, among others, by the freak of all freaks, Daniel Johnston, singer, painter, catholic, patient...

Daniel Johnston is a reference in this context. He represents this return to the origins, this search for authenticity and shows its contradictions, the stench of conservatism that it gives off. On the one hand, Quim has shown the artists (in his studio) and on the other, this mix of references (at A*DESK, during the same days, with a selection of books and music forming a sort of mental map) in an endeavour to define the common lines of a generation. And the endeavour is peculiar, at least for me. A return to nature, a return to a practice close to craft, to folk and postpunk references, with a low conceptual weight and a tactile aftertaste …And most shockingly a lack of political commitment. I talked with Quim and he told me that at the bottom of it behind all these pieces, behind this supposed return to nature, there wasn´t, for example an ecological awareness. It seems to respond more to a pure nihilism, to a stop-the-world-I’m-getting-off, that of a generation driven to despair far removed from social projects. A generation that gathers up all these elements and makes a cocktail with which to get drunk in an ultimately individualistic return.

A few more things caught my attention. The first, how through these references and artists one can recuperate a different genealogy, for example, one that reaches out to an artist, whose inclusion in contemporary discourse through the conceptual seemed impossible, to Antoni Tàpies. Here one could begin a genealogy. Linking up also, for example, to Perejaume. Secondly, that these references are not so much artistic as generically cultural, that is to say, the sources that Quim indicates for the projects exhibited in "A place no cars go" don’t come from the work of other artists so much as from musicians, like those mentioned or filmmakers, such as Gus Van Sant and, in general, about a cultural state. So that the voluntarily low artistry of the projects (we were talking about the generation of the artists from the nineties as the last generation of artists), their at times artisanal character (strengthened by the very studio in which the exhibition takes place), would situate them finally in this yearned for broader context that takes contemporary art out of its box to place it within cultural processes…or maybe not even that.

In any case, the exhibition of Quim Packard (like that of Jordi Mitja in the espai 13 last month at the Fundació Miró) puts us on the track of a generation that for the moment shows other modes and references.


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