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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