DOCUMENTS FOR A HETERODOX ART HISTORY

Collective
1993



ATOMIC EYE

67 Sanchez Pacheco street. Madrid

1993-1994





Artists: El muerto vivo, Image makers, Public Art, Que te parta un rayo, Jaime Vallaure, Daniela Musicco, RR, Joaquín Martín Muñoz-Borja, Nieves Correa + Paco González Calleja + Soledad Hernández de la Rosa + Lucía Alvarez, G.A., Azucena Arce + Santiago Salvador + Julio Fernández Peláez + Nieves Correa, Der Verdebürro, Isidoro Valcarcel Medina, Luis Contreras, Preiswert, José Juan Martinez Ballester, E.M.P.R.E.S.A., Silvia Lenaer, Cándida Pérez-Payá, Ferre Sáez, Manuel Macía, Jordi Cerdá, Saga Male, Tono Framis, Dani Montlleo, Voel Tatú, Espacio P, Agustín Parejo School, Ignasi Deulofeu, J.M. Calleja, Nuria Manso, Pep Derdanyà, Brenda Novak, Borja Zabala, Carles Hac Mor, Esther Xargay, Joan Casellas


Curator: Tomás Ruiz-Rivas




This exhibition, inaugurated on April 17, 1993, included non-conventional art practices ranging from actions in public spaces to certain kinds of graffiti, mail art, interventions at the ARCO fair, postering and other non-classifiable activities, such as Isidoro Valcárcel Medina’s now-famous “Law for the Promotion and Regulation of the Practice, Enjoyment and Commercialization of Art.” The book we published in 1995 included a text about this exhibition which touched on many of the themes central to the Antimuseo:

The Ojo Atómico’s first exhibition was somewhat programmatic in nature. It included documentation of a wide variety of works with certain notable features in common: on the one hand, the works were realized in channels not normally used for the diffusion of art, and on the other, they tended more or less explicitly toward cultural and social criticism in their content. The show was programmatic in the sense that it reflected El Ojo Atómico’s desire to transgress, or at least to get away from the normality sustained by galleries and cultural institutions, making room for works that the precarious market in Madrid seemed unable to accommodate.

(...)

Documents for a History of Heterodoxy in Art was designed to address several different issues simultaneously. We sought to include works that were explicitly critical with regard to social and political issues or questions unique to the art scene. In other words, works that consciously positioned themselves within a determined historic moment and sociocultural setting, thus reclaiming the artist’s role as an intellectual and a social agent, and which were opposed to any form of art for art’s sake or strictly formalist discourses. In most cases, the works are charged with irony: they offer critiques or analyses with a more or less humorous intent. This reflects the distance that the artist establishes from the problem in question, which is presented without any drama or propagandist tendencies. In any case, the works displayed are too diverse to make any generalizations about them. […]

This kind of discourse has been present in contemporary art from the outset, along with the notion of transgression. On the one hand, it is presented as a constitutive element of the contemporary being, and essential to keeping the visual arts from degenerating into decoration, but on the other hand, it highlights the artist’s ambiguous position before society and power. From the moment when an explicitly contemporary art market was consolidated—something that began with Kahnweiler—art’s purely intellectual aspects were watered down to the point that the works were treated as spectacle, controlled and channeled through the gallery-museum system, and sustained by the mass media. Immediate absorption by the complex of any discourse that claims to be dissident poses a problem apparently without solution: on the one hand, art is that which enters into the institution-gallery-media complex, and not that which artists create, as some have claimed. But on the other hand, the work that enters into this circuit is dominated by a context that is invariably stronger than it, one that not only transforms more or less radical positions into free shows, but also attaches certain contents to it which muddy—or wholly contradict—its primary intentions. Power structures appear interested in maintaining and feeding the aura—as Benjamin defined the concept—to justify the work’s economic and political value, thus obliterating some problematical content and substituting it with the artist’s magical presence. However, this is done with the awareness that contemporary art’s ability to invest and promote is its only justification and sustenance. […]

The objective of Documents was to pose all of these questions in an exhibition of works which have eluded the museum-gallery context from the outset, choosing unorthodox modes of diffusion, and utilizing the documentation resulting from the original work to achieve this objective. […] For this reason, the venue was the first selection criterion. […] This exhibition was particularly important to the Ojo Atómico, given that the project consisted of a study of the different models of cultural administration, in view of the alienation produced by the abovementioned system.

Tomás Ruiz-Rivas
(Extracts from the Ojo Atómico's 1995 catalogue)