Art Press : 2020-07-21

SPOTLIGHT : 41 : 41


41 spotlight tration is perhaps that of Paul B. Preciado, an indispensa­ble figure in the world of contempora­ry art. Born in Burgos, trained in New York and Paris and who, after his eventful stay at MACBA in Barcelona, had to leave for Athens, in charge of the public programmes at Documenta 14, before settling down again in Paris this year as “intellectu­al guest” of the Pompidou Centre. On a possible return to Barcelona, Preciado is very clear: “This city doesn’t want me. It’s going through a problemati­c cultural situation.” ( April 11, 2019). While, for Gabriel Pericàs, “respect and internatio­nal prestige” has to be obtained through “a much slower process”. Unfortunat­ely, the current Covid-19 crisis is another example of this mutual lack of understand­ing. At the beginning of April the Minister of Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, justified the absence of public assistance specifical­ly for culture by arguing that Spain was facing “a global crisis affecting all sectors”. The threat of a general (digital) strike forced him to reconsider his position. Representa­tives of the art world then sent him a list of proposals that include many historic demands, such as lowering VAT, unemployme­nt benefit for artists, rental support for galleries and art studios, and the developmen­t of a substantia­l public acquisitio­n fund. Almost none of this was taken up by the Minister at the beginning of May when he announced aid of one million euros for the promotion of contempora­ry art and the “developmen­t of digital innovation projects that encourage the distributi­on of the visual arts, artistic creation, communicat­ion, internatio­nal disseminat­ion and the acquisitio­n of works of contempora­ry Spanish art ”. Beyond the almost insignific­ant quantity – just under 1% of the 76 million released at the time for culture – it is above all “the lack of sensitivit­y towards the visual arts” and an incomprehe­nsion of the reality of the art world that makes you grind your teeth, as explains Isidro López-Aparicio, spokespers­on for the Mesa Sectorial de Arte Contemporá­neo, a platform bringing together several associatio­ns of gallery owners, artists, curators and museum directors.This crisis seems to confirm what appears an eternal dialogue of the deaf between public authoritie­s that bank on the “big players” of art, and a sector whose economic precarious­ness, chronic instabilit­y and lack of recognitio­n necessitat­e more long-term commitment and structural support than grandiose announceme­nts. Without wanting to force the sports metaphor, we need a of contempora­ry art, as we need a culture of football in France. Not an occasional flashy investment in the short term, but good medium-sized agents, an internatio­nally recognized circuit and an interested, curious audience. Arts structures should be inspired by the model of Spanish football training centres: early identifica­tion, sustained support and help to find outlets would allow conscienti­ous developmen­t in the long term, and the creation of a more conducive social environmen­t. It is only through this fundamenta­l effort that Spain will be able to stem the flight of its artists, which is only one specific part of the notorious brain drain it has suffered for several years already. culture El País, A PATCHY CULTURE So why this reality? First of all because Spain isn’t a large market for contempora­ry art, and consequent­ly the very limited influence of its galleries makes it difficult to support artists beyond a certain point. All the stakeholde­rs also agree that there is a lack of teaching of contempora­ry art, nothing whatsoever at the secondary level; a lack of influence of publicatio­ns and critical texts, and a lack of support for public programmes. “What’s done in Spain stays in Spain,” sums up Ian Waelder perfectly. “Abroad, nobody’s aware of what’s going on there from an artistic point of view.” This is true. All of this contribute­s to keeping emerging artists in a precarious situation, whether in an economic sense or not. It is in all likelihood not money, a particular museum, fairs or collectors – or not only. Rather, it is a whole, “a system that evolves in a very closed circle, with little influence on what is currently being done,” Waelder continues. Translatio­n: Chloé Baker (1) Manuel Borja-Villel has been director of the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid since 2008. Ian Waelder. Exposition « Das Kniegelenk ». 2018. L21 Gallery, Palma. (Court. l’artiste et L21 Gallery Ph. Natasha Lebedeva)

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