Seoul Grand Park
7th July- 3rd October
Opening hours: Tuesday- Thursday 9am- 10:30pm, Friday- Sunday 10am- 8pm
Admission: 5,000 won
Guided Tours: Saturday and Sunday 2pm
The Shadow of Speech, Museau d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) showcases super duper highlights from the Spanish Museum’s collection and celebrates 60 years of diplomatic ties between Spain and the ROK. It focuses on the use of semantics in art to suggest diametric meanings.
The introductory blurb is somewhat misleading when it proclaims that the works on show will help the viewer understand Spanish culture, as the show contains numerous European, American and South American artists. So whilst you shouldn’t expect an overview of contemporary Spanish art, you should expect a very interesting array of contemporary artworks with a focus on Spanish art, from the 60′s onwards.
The work of Belgian poet, film maker and artist Marcel Broodthaers provides an excellent introduction to the exhibition, acquainting the viewer with the concept of semantics in art. He uses text in a Surrealistic manner, splicing often seemingly unrelated images and text. However, in the work ‘Museum- Museum,’ (1972), he uses words to suggest a link between art works and commodities. The piece is made up of two prints, both portraying identical gold bullion. The bullion has been labelled on one print with famous artists’ names, and on the other, with food commodities. At the bottom of each print are the words, ‘IMITATION, KOPIE, COPIE, FALSCH, ORIGINAL.’
I especially enjoyed the works of one of the pioneers of installation art, the Spaniard Francesc Torres. Four uncased white boxes are displayed, and upon each is a different arrangement of letters. For example, the letters of the box entitled, ‘P… O… E… M… A…’ (1969) have been placed on a cuboid, which slips out of the cube, meaning that the ‘poem’ only really comes into existence when pulled out and read by the viewer. I love the Minimalist, lettraset look of these pieces; they are very reminiscent of the 60′s when lots of fantastic experimentations were being made into the use of semantics in art.
Torres sounds an overtly political voice in ‘Construction of the Matrix,’ (1976). He uses a pile of rubble littered with empty bullets to provide home on opposing sides to a lamp lit Bible and Communist Manifesto, highlighting the consequences of the two opposing ideologies as they both seemingly are reduced to dust. In the background, the video work, ‘Portrait,’ (1994) by Muntadas plays. Here, we witness close up gesticular hand movements of politicians and hear them speaking; except that both have been slowed down so that the gestures become silly and the voices become nonsensical and unnervingly animalistic.
A look at the advent of TV and its role in political activity and generating of media stereotypes has been given a lot of attention. For example, Eugenia Balcell’s ‘Girl Meets Boy,’ (1978), highlights the ridiculous sexist archetypes conveyed in the media; shy, buxom blondes with thick eyelashes, cowboys, sailors…
It’s interesting to give speech and written language such an important role to play in an exhibition. A lot of these pieces have a grounding in Spanish politics and culture, whilst the rest slip neatly beside them, into six subcategories. You can check out the MACBA collection on their really cool website, but you can’t beat seeing art works in the flesh. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and think that you would too!