[subSENSORIAL experiences – Antoni Muntadas, 1971-73]
«The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has organized a major exhibition on the work of Antoni Muntadas (Barcelona, 1942), an internationally renowned artist who was one of the pioneers of conceptual and media art. The show will survey his long career from the seventies to the present day. In the course of those four decades, Muntadas has used performance, video, photography, installations, multimedia, publications, the internet and public art to approach key political and social issues of our time.
His committed work includes a profound and incisive investigation of political situations and aspects of culture. He has explored ideas like the relationship between the public and the private, the flows of information among the media, and the dynamics of official architecture. The exhibition title, Entre/Between, alludes to being slightly removed or ‘in between’, a condition Muntadas has made use of in order to address key political and cultural issues of our time. His body of work frames a discourse on the visible and invisible systems of communication and power in a society increasingly dominated by the spectacles of mass media, hyper consumption and ever-advancing technologies. However, Muntadas’ work does not offer precise narratives or solutions; rather, it lies between, uncovering the connective tissues that constitute the complex social fabric of contemporary life.
This survey exhibition does not present a comprehensive retrospective view, nor does it follow a typical chronological sequence. Instead, it proposes an itinerary with no beginning and no end, using the idea of constellations to thematically link works from different periods of the artist’s production. Nine such constellations articulate the broad field of subjects explored by Muntadas over the last four decades, creating a context that enables viewers to ask themselves, “What are we looking at?”
Muntadas’ projects generally respond to particular conditions of time and place: they
address a multitude of social contexts, and introduce themselves into a variety of locations, using diverse media. Consequently, the representation of his practice in a museum installation such as this, where his works are inserted into a new time and place, generates a number of paradoxes and requires further translation and reinterpretation—such a process of reframing is itself one of the artist’s principal recurring motifs.
CONSTELLATION I: MICROESPACIOS / MICROSPACES
This constellation is organised around works that examine ways of perceiving, arranging and expressing private space. It groups together a series of Muntadas’ experiments from the early seventies that explore the limits of our (sub)senses, works that reflect on the tensions between the public and private spheres, and proposals in which reality is physically questioned through the body. Works in this constellation: Experiencias subsensoriales, acciones y actividades (1971-1973), Anuncios por palabras (1973), Reflexões sobre a morte (1973), Diario 10 – 22 diciembre (1974), Arte D Vida (1974), Biography (1975), Emissió / Recepció (1975),
Acción / Situación: Hoy. Proyecto a través de Latinoamérica (1975-1976), Diálogo
(1980), La Siesta / The Nap / Dutje (1995) and Mirar Ver Percibir (2009).
CONSTELLATION II: PAISAJE DE LOS MEDIA / MEDIA LANDSCAPE
The term media landscape was coined by Muntadas in the late seventies to refer to a space of communication that appeared with the proliferation of mass media (such as the press, radio, television). Since then, several projects have examined the opaque flows of information worldwide, motivating a line of research into the means as well as the message of mass communication. Works in this constellation: Polución audiovisual (1972), Confrontations (1974), Emisión/Recepción (1974), Cadaqués-Canal Local (Punt d’informació) (1974), Barcelona Distrito Uno (Punto de información) (1976), On Subjectivity (1978), Personal / Public (1980), La Televisión (1980), Media Eyes (1981), Drastic Carpet (1982) and On Translation: El aplauso (1999). This constellation also includes the following videos: Watching the Press / Reading Television (1981), Media Ecology Ads (1982) and Video is Television? (1989).
CONSTELLATION III: ESFERAS DE PODER / SPHERES OF POWER
Three parallel directions articulate the projects comprising this constellation: one explores the architecture of power, its archetypal spaces, vistas and rituals; another is a set of proposals that examine the gestural choreography of politics; and the third brings together a range of representations —auditory, symbolic and graphic— through which power is delivered. Works in this constellation: The Board Room (1987), The Limousine Project (1990), Home, Where is Home? (1990), Architektur / Räume / Gesten (1991), Words: The Press Conference Room (1991), Portrait (1994), Portraits (1995), Himne dels Himnes (2009). The Protocol Room will include: CEE Project (1989-1998) and Meetings (1999-2000).
CONSTELLATION IV: LA CONSTRUCCIÓN DEL MIEDO / DOMAIN OF FEAR
This constellation reveals how fear is constructed in the public realm and, above all, how the nature and sources of manipulation and domination bring into play issues of privacy, identity and language. Works in this constellation: Cercas (2008) and Alphaville e outros (2011). This constellation also includes the following videos: On Translation: Fear / Miedo (2005) and On Translation: Miedo / Jauf (2007).
CONSTELLATION V: ESPACIOS DE ESPECTÁCULO / PLACES OF SPECTACLE
This constellation examines ideas about an architecture of containment, primarily through the stadium as one of contemporary society’s most prominent catalysts for the rituals of spectacle to unfold, be they associated with sports, entertainment or politics. Works in this constellation: Stadium XV (2011), On Translation: Die Stadt (1999-2004) and On Translation: Stand By (2005). This constellation also includes the following videos: Snowflake (1977).
CONSTELLATION VI: TERRITORIOS DE LO PÚBLICO / COMMUNAL SPACES
In these works, Muntadas questions the very nature of public space, revealing the
competing political and economic interests that strive to impose exclusive urban models. In addition, his interests have led to an exploration of how urban myths and memories are created, and how histories are framed in public space. Works in this constellation: About 405 East 13 Street (1973), Smelling Areas (1974), Pamplona – Grazalema (1975- 1980), This Is Not an Advertisement (1985), Monumento genérico (1988), Ciudad Museo (1991-2011), On Translation: Comemorações urbanas (1998-2002), On Translation: El tren urbano (2005) and Situation #7 / #10 / #13 / #17 / #21 / #25 / #31 (2008). This constellation also includes the following video: Marseille: Mythes et Stéréotypes (1992-1995).
CONSTELLATION VII: EL ARCHIVO / THE ARCHIVE
From the beginning of his career, the notion of the archive has played an essential role in Muntadas’ work. This constellation encapsulates works that address a variety of accumulations, collections and typologies, to reveal underlying (and paradoxical)
methodologies for recording, ordering and remembering. Works in this constellation: The File Room (1994), On Translation: The Bookstore (2001), Media Sites / Media Monuments: Buenos Aires (2007) and On Translation: Paper BP/MVDR (2009). This constellation also includes the following videos: Political Advertisement (1984- 2008) and TVE: Primer intento (1989).
CONSTELLATION VIII: ÁMBITOS DE LA TRADUCCIÓN / FIELD OF TRANSLATION
These works consider the interpretation of words, concepts, histories and values not only across different languages but also through the invisible conventions inherent in all forms of communication. Translation and its many implications is the central theme of Muntadas’ ongoing On Translation series, started in 1995, that comprises works created in a variety of political, cultural and economic contexts. Works in this constellation: On Translation: The Audience (1998-2000), On Translation: Warning (1999-…) and On Translation: La mesa de negociación II (2005). This constellation also includes the following videos: Liège 12/9/77 (1977), Between the Lines (1979) and Cross-Cultural Television (1987).
CONSTELLATION IX: SISTEMAS DEL ARTE / SYSTEMS OF ART
This constellation brings together a series of propositions that examine the ways in which the art world organises its nomenclature, its language of display, its professional hierarchies, its institutional decisions and its various audiences. It can be considered, therefore, a broadranging commentary on the many frameworks imposed on art. Works in this constellation: Espacio / Situación (1975), haute CULTURE I-II (1983-1985), Exhibition (1987) and Projecte / Proyecto / Project (2007)»
[subSENSORIAL experiences – Antoni Muntadas, 1971-73]