ADN Galería opens the new season 2012/2013 with two solo shows, To Be and To Last by DEMOCRACIA and A Matter of Faith by Chus García-Fraile.
Both proposals raise questions about the belief systems that permeated our society and their mutations and new expressions in a context of globalization affecting the political, economical and cultural institutions globally. One of the anchorage points of European culture, religion, is presented here in connection with other ideologies of the XX and XXI centuries. Through reappropriation or deflection of either places of worship or rituals, the works on show evoke the ideological legacies, their permanence and disappearance in this era of radical changes.
The work of DEMOCRACIA translates these questions to the realm of Spanish historical memory confronted to the reuse of spaces, to the mapping of a memorial territory. The artist group from Madrid presents a medium-length mono-channel video, second part of the project “To be and to Last” presented at Adn gallery in 2010.
“To be and to last” is the emblematic slogan of parkour (also known as “art of urban displacement”), a discipline based on covering a trajectory in the most direct way, overcoming obstacles and urban furniture along the path. The video by DEMOCRACIA documents a session of parkour carried out in the Civil Cemetery of the Almudena in Madrid. In this part of the cemetery, founded upon a Real Decree in 1883, are buried the non-Catholics, along with a whole section dedicated to Jewish. There lie the mortal remains of significant republicans, socialists and intellectuals, whose epitaphs express secular values (political, idealistic or personal). In a Spanish context where Catholic heritage remains omnipresent and keeps on conditioning part of public life, the lack of reference to the belief in extra-terrestrial life is a strong ideological attitude itself.The intervention of the traceurs (as the practitioners of parkour are called) going over the surfaces of graves as a sort of mapping through the movement and the physical feeling of volumes and gravity, it is juxtaposed to this politicized place as an alien action, adapting the memorial place for their own practice.
The video “To be and to last” stages the stratification of the site, either in terms of entropy or through the transience of ideas, utopias, beliefs that are transformed over time. Whereas one of its tenets is never go through the same spot, the practice of parkour somehow rejects the conventional temporality determining history. As DEMOCRACIA emphasizes, the traceurs don’t have memory, they approach spaces and urban structures ignoring the past, constantly improvising and adapting themselves into the space. To the artists this attitude relates the traceurs to an urban guerrilla group, trying to survive in a context of capitalism that constantly manipulates our perception of space and memories to produce both craving and passivity.
The project Lampadarios. G20 by Chus García-Fraile arises from the idea that religion, benchmark and catalyst for many events throughout history, has been replaced by other ideological systems, especially the political one. Vehicles of utopias whose failure has left its mark on the past century, they ended up melting in the matrix of neoliberal capitalism.
At the entrance of the gallery, two installations represent the typical trays with votive candleholders of Catholic churches. The colored candles here draw the national flags of France and United Kingdom. García-Fraile chose to represent the flags of some of the G20 World Powers, suggesting that the figure of the nation-state, and the transnational organizations that control transactions worldwide, have supplanted the power of religion.
A series of light-boxes reproduce these installations of colored votive candles in places of worship: before the altar, near the Sacred Heart in the apse, the national flags shine and slowly melt, breaking into a religious space that reflects another temporality and historical moment. In a context where the power of nations as political entities becomes weaker, over certain interests and systems determined by global economy, the work of Chus García-Fraile seems particularly relevant. On one hand it reminds that the nation-state has established itself as a very strong source of faith throughout the last century, creating "crusades" of nationalist purification with dramatic consequences. On the other hand, it evokes the nearly obsolescence of this concept. Indeed, paradoxically, the major world powers are relatively weak outside the context of a transnational organization. They gain and keep political, economical and military influence only if they join a supranational superstructure, as the G20.
In these terms, the flag is also a relic or a votive offering to be commemorated as icon of the past. A video showing the accelerated consumption of a flag made of candles refers to this organized disappearance, yet constantly re-enacted through the video loop. The consumption acquires here several resonances: the fire of the candle refers to a new idolized icon and its disappearance, when its trace is reduced to a trickle of wax and smell of smoke.
Lampadarios. G20 evokes as well the dichotomy between the belief in a religious ideology based on the promise of a post-mortem paradise, and modern political ideologies, which pushed for the realization of their goals here and now. As the artist observes, “once you were excommunicated, now you are fired from the party. Can be political ideologies considered as new religions?”