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A gear is the mechanism that is used for transmitting mechanical power from a component to another by means of the contact of gear wheels, which may have a cylindrical or conical shape; according to the relative orientation of these axes or their cogs in relation to the axes, they may produce a large variety of typologies. Consequently, a gear produces a movement of circular transmission, and this, in turn, produces wear on its parts due to continuous friction. In order to reduce the wear produced by the use of a gear and lengthen the lifespan of the machinery and avoid repairs as well, it is extremely important to keep the gear well lubricated. Otherwise, it goes rusty, it hardens, it ends up being scrap, it loses interest and is of no use anymore.
The system of art1 is an interactive machine in whose entrails art is defined thanks to the work that, together with artists, is carried out simultaneously by several agents, from art criticism to mediation, from museums to galleries, from the media to trade, from administrative cultural policies to those fostered by private institutions, from what is intimate to what is collective, from what is virtual to what is real. The system of art is, therefore, a moving device that, thanks to the energy brought about by the artist, allows for its gear parts to get the energy needed to keep on fulfilling the function they were created for in the first place. However, in order to prevent their gear wheels from irretrievably damaging their cogs and prevent the system from working "correctly" ?that is to say, according to the standards adjusted by the large crowns of each section?, it is very important to keep its gears in good enough condition for a proper functioning. That is to say, well lubricated.
Despite linking the system of art to the functioning of a gear is so hackneyed that it makes me blush, it is worth remembering that what ensures the survival of the parts that articulate its movements involves behaving according to the expectations we have of them. If we do not fulfil these expectations and choose to work outside the system, then, either we repair the unruly wheels to introduce them again in the circuit ?if we consider that they are still able to work or still keep some interest?, or they are replaced by some new ones coming from where we may obtain what any cell needs to be regenerated: youth. Something that, besides, is ever so natural.
Youth and everything related to it is what feeds art with juicy titbits to keep alive a system whose parts, by force of use, are replaced because they wear out, lose stamina and disturb. It is a strategy that, being developed within the framework of a society that glosses the physical body ad nauseam, whereas it is neither afraid of getting ready for a worn-out body, nor does it hurry to adopt one not older than thirty. But then, not any body does work; to enter with the right foot in the system of art it is recommended to make people talk about you during the first training stage, to stay alive after having your blood sucked out, to be at least slightly ambitious, being good with people, being clever but, more than anything else, cunning, having adaptive skills, and being arrogant enough so as to dazzle without invading the comfort zone of the person who will welcome you into their bosom. Although what is new and young is necessary and essential, it must never be a passport to trespassing on the ground of the person ensconced in power by beheading people.
With this ardent appeal I do not aim to say that the system of art is different from any other. In fact, mankind is another system that has survived thanks to the balance between the living and the dead. And it is precisely this balance that, apart from the youth and the old, guarantees the survival of the system of art. Whereas from youth comes power, audacity, experimental approaches and the need to build a world according to new needs, from the old remains experience, temperance, distance and the need to enjoy the world. The fact is that the principle of communicating vessels keeps on going, and that the sap that runs through all of our veins may be able to achieve the same level despite the shape of our bodies.
Recently, I was speaking to a friend who, moreover, is a specialised bookseller in contemporary art, and he remarked that, in response to a post I had uploaded on Facebook about an intervention of Perejaume in five spots in the area of Maresme, young people rarely buy books or catalogues of artists who are the same age as their parents. Everything that does not belong to their generation does not interest them, they care little about it. Generally speaking, those who buy books about elderly artists are elderly people, especially women. By the same token, and for many reasons, only a very low number of elderly artists approach what young people do. If to the difficulties of understanding where they are or what they are aiming at ?as they know perfectly, there is no need to explain it to anybody?, we add the drag of having to see something by someone who believes him/herself to be unique and, therefore, possessing absolute truth, it is easy to understand that the whole situation is a bit complicated.
The world of art, like the world generally speaking, is an unbalanced system, a canal along which water flows, which has many generational lock-gates. When it opens, each lock-gate only allows the members of each new generation to pass through, and once it is closed, there is no way of going back. Although those who follow the water current always have the feeling of moving at the swift pace of white-water and life's vibrations, those who remain behind the lock-gates live enjoying the calm waters, the leaves of trees, the mirrored sky and, underneath, the minnows. Such is life.
1. Throughout the article we refer to the system of contemporary art.
(English translation: Beatrice Krayenbühl)
Frederic Montornès. Picture: Carlos Aires, "I Will Die", 2019.
16th of June, 2021
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