Garmendia, Maneros Zabala, Salaberria. Process and Method
October 31, 2013 – February 16, 2014
Erlea Maneros Zabala
Untitled (Los Angeles Times Archive on Microfilms, May, 2007) (2008)
"I start from a formal excuse to translate it into something else. As in writing, art usually starts from something. You never start from zero; a preliminary basis serves you to face the process."
—Iñaki Garmendia, artist
Creative processes used by artists Iñaki Garmendia (b. 1972, Ordizia, Gipuzkoa, Spain), Erlea Maneros Zabala (b. 1977, Bilbao, Spain), and Xabier Salaberria (b. 1969, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain) help to understand ideas involved in their artworks. Their processes evidence artists’ intentions and objectives and usually involve several artistic disciplines altogether, such as painting, film, video, photography, sculpture, and performance. Occasionally, they include techniques related to non-artistic disciplines, but which serve them to reach their artistic purposes.
Sometimes, these artists start their creative process from a document or from another artist’s work. Garmendia, for instance, in his work No R.S. (2008), is inspired by Roman Signer’s (b. 1938, Appenzell, Switzerland) photos and films of experiments involving explosions, sculptures, and artistic actions. Signer’s works have been labeled “time-sculptures,” as he investigates the transformation of materials through time, focusing the viewer’s attention on the experience of the event, the changes wrought, and the forces involved. Signer works with everyday objects and relates them to earth, wind, fire, and water in unexpected ways. He incorporates chemistry to observe combinations and reactions of basic elements. In No R.S., Garmendia films two washbowls, three bottles of gas, a butane gas cylinder, and some balloons that explode. Although the display is a video, these objects work as sculptures. Images do not have a narrative character and become abstract  as Garmendia eliminates any kind of particular theme or specific context.
In Untitled (Los Angeles Times Archive on Microfilms, May, 2007) (2008), Maneros Zabala used microfilm as the starting point of her creative process. The group of black-and-white photocopies that comprise this artwork have its origin in images produced by microfilm machines. This technology has been used for more than a century to preserve newspapers and documents. Nowadays, documents are archived online instead. Maneros Zabala observes the transition of images from one realm to the other. She strips the microfilm images of everything that appears in the online version, resulting in a grid of black rectangles punctuated by dissociated images. The only text legible in this series is "New Day Begins". The pictures could be read as a tirade against the consequences of new technologies, dealing with questions such as expiration, anachronism, and simultaneity.
The installation Untitled (2011), from the series Unconscious/Conscious (Inkontziente/kontziente) (2011) by Salaberria, is based on a replica of the Republican Spanish Pavilion originally designed for the World Exhibition of Paris in 1937 by Josep Lluís Sert (b.1907, Barcelona, Spain; d.1983, Barcelona, Spain) and Luis Lacasa (b. 1899, Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain; d.1966, Moscow, Rusia), reconstructed in the city of Barcelona on the occasion of the Olympic Games in 1992. The building that followed the lines of rational architecture became a symbol of Republican resistance against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). Salaberria commissioned a professional photographer to take images of the pavilion in Barcelona. By distancing himself from the process, Salaberria avoided an artist’s subjectivity of being involved. His artistic process becomes a strategy of distance, questioning the authorship of the work. He also raises a debate on the connotations of the pavilion: how national identities could be represented by architecture and shown at International World’s Fairs developing a growing awareness of the nation–state boundaries.
3. “El artista Iñaki Garmendia experimenta con la abstracción.” El diario de Navarra, Jan. 27, 2008.
In the museum, you can see the four videos on different screens; in class, you can watch part of the video titled No R.S. (2008) by Garmendia at http://vimeo.com/11654549.
Name objects you recognize. How are they similar or different?
Try to describe what happens in every screen and how objects move and behave. Garmendia provokes events to make us notice how objects react to a spotlight evidencing their physical matter.
In most of Garmendia’s videos lies the notion that everything is related to the circle. What could circle symbolize? Create a list of associations with circle. Search for circle images or circle movements in the video and try to find an explanation for this.
Describe the sound and the light. How does the use of sound and light affect the impact of the work?
Garmendia thinks this group of objects work as sculptures. Why do you think he uses video to create sculptures?
- View: Maneros Zabala, Untitled (Los Angeles Times Archive on Microfilms, May, 2007) (2008) at http://redlingfineart.com/exhibition/erlea-maneros-zabala-4#image=thumb
Describe the images and search for recognizable elements. What did you discover?
The black spots, stains, and grids are also part of these archive images. How would you define these images? What do they remind you of?
When and where could you find these types of images?
It is said that heritage microfilm produces images that will last 500 years or longer, far longer than most paper stocks in use today. Think about computer data: do you consider the digital archive a permanent record? Search for information about microfilm and digital archives and discuss advantages and disadvantages of both technologies.
Make a list of past and present recording devices. Discuss the pros and cons of each device.
Debate how new technologies have changed our lives (the way we work and study, the way we are in contact with other people, the way we distribute our time, etc.).
What images can you see? What type of building is it? What could it be used for?
In 1937, Pablo Picasso (b. 1881, Malaga, Spain; d. 1973, Mougins, France) showed the painting Guernica (1937) for the first time in this pavilion. Search for information about the Republican Spanish Pavilion.
Which kinds of fairs do you know? What is the purpose of International World’s Fairs?
Search for information about Art International Fairs and discuss its aims and commitments in the past and the present.
Why do you think a replica of the building was made in Barcelona in 1992 on the occasion of the Olympic Games? Does the building still have the same meaning as it had in 1937? To inform your argument, search for information about the building and its current use.
Salaberria distances himself from the artistic process in this series. He commissioned a professional photographer to take photos of the Spanish Pavilion. Why do you think Salaberria does not take the photos himself? Debate whether it is important that an artist makes his or her own artwork.
Describe how the artist displays the photos in this exhibition in particular. How does this display interfere with a viewer’s perception? Debate how an exhibition space can influence a work of art.
The title No R.S. (2008) alludes to Roman Signer’s initials, as Garmendia’s artwork starts from Signer’s works made during the 1980s. Ask students to organize a similar action, observing how objects react (how they move, sound, how the physical matter changes) if elements such as sun, water, or wind get involved. For the action they can use balloons, plastic balls, marbles, cans, and so forth. Place your selected elements in the playground during different days with different weather and observe how they react when they come into contact with the wind, rain, snow, or sun. Film them. When the filming is over, watch it and discuss the differences between the live performance and the video.
- Activity linked to the work of Erlea Maneros Zabala, Untitled (Los Angeles Times archive on Microfilm, May, 2007) (2008):
Ask students to bring to class videos recorded with old-fashioned video cameras or old paper photos from their parents or grandparents. (Please ensure they have permission or use photocopies; in many cases, these are valuable family treasures.) In class, ask them to take pictures and videos of old photos by using a digital camera or smartphones. Compare and debate positive and negative qualities of both. When and how often did our parents or grandparents take photos or videos? When and how often do we take them nowadays? Do current pictures and videos have the same value as they had in the past? Argue your answers.
- Activity linked to the work of Xabier Salaberria, Unconscious/Conscious (Inkontziente/kontziente) (2011–13):
Select an emblematic building in your town or city. Search for information and images online, investigating, for instance, what purpose it was built for and what different uses it had over the course of time. Ask your students to take photographs of the building. Observe the differences between the photos downloaded from the Internet and the ones made by the students. Comment on them, paying attention to student’s subjectivity.
View the series at http://www.flickr.com/photos/arcomadrid/6586959153/ and observe the installation’s display. Salaberria took inspiration from the paneling systems devised by the founder of Documenta (one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in the world), Arnold Bode (b. 1900 Kassel, Germany; d. 1977, Kassel, Germany), in the mid- to late 1950s as prototypical modernist solutions for the development of the exhibition as a medium itself.. Why do you think Salaberria has chosen this kind of display? Imagine that you have to exhibit your pictures in the building. How would you organize the display? Use paper and pencil to make a design for the display. Why have you organized the exhibition that way?
Abstract: An idea or argument based on general principles that try to reach the essential part of an object.
Anachronism: What belongs or seems to belong to another time.
Artistic discipline: Different ways to develop an artistic expression, such as painting, sculpture, performance, video, photography, etc.
Creative process: The way an artist approaches an idea and transforms it into art.
The Republican Spanish Pavilion
A mock-up of the Spanish Pavilion:
Videos about Paris World Fair
International Contemporary Art Fairs