25 Mantuano street, Madrid


Artists: Alain Declercq, Lukas Einsele, Marcelo Expósito, Jonathan Hernández, Enrique Ježik, Cecilia Noriega-Bozovich y Yoshua Okón

Curator: Tomas Ruiz-Rivas

Support: Goethe Institut Madrid, France Embassy, Mexico Foreing Office, Enrique Guerrero Gallery.

Did the invasion of Iraq imply a shift in the ethical and political models of the West? And if there was a change, was it a profound one? Was it significant? Or was it just another pathology of modernity?

The End of the Fair Times was an exhibition intended to offer elements of reflection and analysis regarding the political and ethical consequences of the Iraq invasion. The title implicitly asks the question of whether justice has disappeared as a principle — at least a formal one — in political decision-making. The definitive disappearance of enlightened thought.

In general terms, The End of the Fair Times was a reflection on violence as a political tool, and the crisis of the State in the age of globalization.

Jonathan Hernández

Jonathan Hernández's work consists of a small-format book entitled You Are Under Arrest. It includes press photographs of arrests, from the moment when the police detain an individual to the transportation of detainees, all published between 2000 and 2002. It should be pointed out that the notion of security and social awareness of it changed radically during this time, due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in September 2001.

In total, there are 116 photographs, and in most of them the detainee is the main character. This transmits a disturbing sensation to the viewer, because the vulnerability of the person who has been handcuffed and dominated by anonymous uniformed individuals becomes the connecting thread of a narrative without a plot.

Yoshua Okón

Oríllese a la orilla (Pull off the road in Mexican police argot) project is a series of nine videos in which police officers in Mexico City are documented in situations of different kinds and intensities of manipulation. In the case of Cop I, Yoshua Okón confronts the police officer with a video camera, thus provoking an absurd argument.

In Cop IV, Okón simply asks the officer to demonstrate his skill with a nightstick, and the rest is history. In Cop V, Okón pays the officer to perform a square dance. In Cop IX, Okón is pulled over by a police car, and documents the bribe he pays the officers to let him go.

Above all, these videos demonstrate the fragile ethics of Mexico's security agencies. Much more than a localist interpretation, along the lines of "the Mexican police are corrupt," what becomes very clear is the fact that agents of public order are salaried workers, and as such, potentially venal. Faced with the idealized television images which we mentioned earlier, where the police appear as the ultimate guardians of social order, and generally as individuals—in other words, as heroes who must challenge the system to achieve justice—in Yoshua Okón's videos, the police are also presented as individuals, but in denigrating situations, as antiheroes without poetry, who profit from the benefit of system defects

Alain Declercq

Day after Day, I Think of You, Mother Fucker is a portrait of the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who was directly responsible for the military actions in Iraq and for such things as the use of torture in the Abu-Ghraib prison. It is a large drawing—about 170 by 170 centimeters—and the artist created it by drawing short lines six to eight millimeters in length on the wall using a thin marker. In total, it took six markers and over fifty hours to complete the work. The method is intended to evoke the classic image of a prisoner who counts off the days served in his sentence by scratching lines on the cell wall.

Like the work by Cecilia Noriega-Bozovich, this piece explores the representation of political power and its symbolic mechanisms. The discursive capability of the politician's effigy, as a particularized expression or incarnation of an abstract power, is used in the opposite manner: to reveal the personal and concrete aspects of power and to question its legitimacy.

B52 is a photograph printed in offset and glued to the wall, in which the artist himself is seen shooting at a B52 bomber with a pistol. The photograph was taken near Oxford, England, and is an homage to Chris Burden.

Cecilia Noriega

A photomontage by the Peruvian artist Cecilia Noriega-Bozovich, from her series Political Tours. In this 170 x 120 cm. image, we see the Rock of Gibraltar in the background, Aznar and Blair talking good-naturedly in a peaceful setting in the mid-ground, and the artist herself on a pink military jeep in the foreground. She is wearing a pink vest and putting on lipstick. The artist thus introduces a female stereotype into a context of political tensions and positioning, in such a way that the whole situation takes on a banal and contradictory tinge, and the symbolic potential of the political icons created by the media is deconstructed.

Enrique Ježik

Perpetual Motion is a video installation by Enrique Jezik which consists of scaffolding with four monitors hung in a line: two large ones at either end, and two small ones in the middle, with some DVD players piled on the left-hand side and the cables attaching the monitors to the players hanging in front of the scaffolding.

The monitors show scenes of American military interventions from television newscasts that have been reedited by the artist. The result is four parallel narratives which combine the familiar green landscapes of the night-vision cameras used by bombers with the ocher and orange palettes of the deserts of the Middle East and extremely violent scenes. Every video has a different duration, so the sequence is never repeated exactly, and the relationship between the four narratives is constantly being renewed. Only the large monitors have audio, consisting of the ambient sound captured by the cameras, which has been reedited to form a dull roar pierced by explosions and screams.

Lucas Einsele

Another work in this exhibition that confronts us with military scenarios or events is that of Lukas Einsele, One Step Beyond: Reencounter with the Mine, a project developed in collaboration with Andreas Zierhut. Seven large-format inkjet plotter prints were presented, forming part of an ambitious project which the artist has been developing over the space of several years.
An investigation into antipersonnel mines, focusing on their victims and the difficult process of readaptation to everyday life following mutilation. The most frequent damage inflicted by the mines is the loss of a leg.
The concept of One Step Beyond, explains Einsele, is based on real-life narratives, objective investigation and graphic documents. Men, women and children wounded by the mines discuss the details of the tragedy and the moments immediately before and after the explosion.
Lukas Einsele has traveled to Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan—the source of the documents included in The End of the Fair Times—as well as to Cambodia.
Einsele hopes to establish a visible and comprehensible relationship between antipersonnel mines and their victims. There is no compassion or sentimentalism in these images. On the contrary, they are beautiful photographs that allow us to discover places marked by hardship without harshness, in the same way that these victims of tragedy retell their experience with absolute naturalness, with the resignation of someone who has suffered an illness or a natural disaster. War appears here like a permanent condition, not an exceptional moment. Decisions made in remote times and places continue to exert an effect years later, when the people responsible have already forgotten their acts and the reasons for them.

Marcelo Expósito

The show closes with a video by Marcelo Expósito entitled Between Dreams: May 1. With a forty-five-minute duration, it is a long and complex film, showing the socioeconomic transformations that have led to the emergence of what is known as post-Fordism, and its effects on labor relations and ideas related to the urban space or fundamental political action.
The large Fiat factory in Lingotto, Turin—since transformed into a massive multipurpose center measuring more than 250,000 square meters which provides different kinds of services (convention center, fair center, commercial areas, theaters and movie theaters, a museum, a hotel…)—is the focal point of the film's narrative and exemplifies the move from a secondary-sector industrial economy to a tertiary-sector service economy, and the substitution of the industrial proletariat for a socially and politically disjointed urban precariat.
Marcelo Expósito combines a diversity of materials: segments of a lecture by the political ideologue Paolo Virno, some scenes from old commercial films featuring Fiat or Berlin, the symphony of a large city in Ruttmann (1927), interviews with Italian activists and shots of a May Day parade in Milan—all intercut with a clandestine documentary of the Lingotto center to offer a complete overall vision of these transformations. A text by the artist entitled, Disobedience: The Imaginative Hypothesis, exploring the relationship between new political and artistic practices, was also distributed

This piece does not deal specifically with the exhibition's central themes (violence as a political tool, the corruption of the notion of justice and the crisis of the modern State), but we decided to include it because despite this fact, it does not break with the exhibition's coherence, but rather, reinforces it. The way in which it presents new forms of social conflict, representations of the public space as a space of conflict, and, in short, the evolution of capitalism, allows us to understand that it all forms part of the same logic, and reconnects remote realities—such as the lame cyclists of Afghanistan, the corrupt police of Mexico, night bombings of Baghdad—with our own context, i.e. that of the European middle class. This relationship is the basis for our understanding of the violent logic of Capitalism.