Sunday, March 02, 2008

Catherine Bertola: "Agitar antes de usar" Artium Museum, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Shake Before Using.

Lower East Gallery, from March 6 to June 8
Shake before using is a production of ARTIUM (Vitoria-Gasteiz)

Curated by: Enrique Martínez Goikoetxea

Chris Drury, Hamra Abbas, Robert Waters, Jorge Macchi, Jean Michel Alberola, Maider López, Catherine Bertola, Katharina Grosse, Mrzyc & Moriceau

Shake before using is an exhibition of works that are markedly ephemeral in nature and with a clear use-by date, created in the gallery itself by nine artists from different countries. When the exhibition ends in three months’ time, all of these works, created in situ, will be destroyed and a new coat of paint will cover all the efforts of these artists. A "throwaway" art project, which contrasts greatly with the obsessive desire for permanence generally attributed to works of art.

Visitors will see that Shake before using is an atypical exhibition which rather than exhibiting objects, transmits messages and especially highlights attitudes characterised by a commitment to an idea or artistic practice. The artists included in the exhibition present proposals in which the art blends into the surroundings, questions its own function or analyses its social dimension. These are works that will never become merchandise, only experience, and nevertheless, there is an underlying, special capacity to involve everyone who draws near and walks through the place where they have been created. The aim of these artists to create a direct art that attempts to awaken the senses and to stimulate the grey matter rather than creating a beautiful and lasting object.
By using drawings, mural paintings or by intervening in the architecture, from a fingerprint to the pure expressiveness of colour, little by little the exhibition excites our senses and awakens our everyday concerns. Sex, politics, religion or that part of the unconscious that visits us are dealt with throughout the exhibition from the perspective of the commitment to intelligence and sensibility . The exhibition opens with the work of the English artist, Chris Drury. The use of earths and fingerprints collected in our environment defines a piece that reflects the energy that connects nature with human beings. In her work, Please Do Not Step II Hamra Abbas alludes to the meeting of different cultures and religions in our complex, to be "different" in the West, at a time when we are suffering the «talibanisation» of world politics. Jean Michel Alberola, proposes a highly-charged space. The mixture of images and sentences with open meanings appeals to our experience in a subtle manner of doing politics at a basic level. Opposite this space, in a mural of more than ten metres in height stands the silhouette of a masculine torso illuminated by the light of a computer screen. This work, created by Robert Waters, portrays an intimate moment in an ever more common relationship between man and machine and what each one of us displays on the screen. In a more emotional manner, in a language that is almost poetical, the work of Jorge Macchi uses a simple piece of paper fixed by several cables to make what he defines as a brief, extensive song. This piece finds itself in a space with a work of an artist-couple Mrzyk & Moriceau, with surreal images that verge on the absurd, but capable of evoking images that inhabit similar worlds inside us all.

In this regard, if you are over 1.7 m tall with or without high heels, be careful: a beam typical of those used in the structure of the galleries in ARTIUM, has been placed in a position where we are obliged to take notice of it. Once again, Maider López, has placed us in a new relationship with objects in order to make as appreciate a space that usually goes unnoticed.

The exhibition also creates an awareness of the building in which the work by Catherine Bertola is housed. Her work speaks to us of memory and time and evokes images of the place in which we find ourselves. With the dust collected in the building itself, she constructs an image of the old bus station that used to stand on the site of the museum. The exhibition space is completed with a direct physical experience with colour. In the work of Kahtarina Grosse a spectacular chromatic tower emerges from the floor and succeeds in moving us and arousing a new sensual experience of painting.

Shake before using is a meeting place for ideas, attitudes and, especially, the places in which the works of the artists acquire special meaning based on the interrelationships that we create between them.

Exhibition catalogue, with texts by the artists, Virginia Torrente and the exhibition curator