Behaviors. Art in the Basque Country
Artists: Baseline (Pilar Baizán), Jai Du, Mauro Entrialgo, Patxi Araujo, Felipe Uribarri
Curated by Txema Agiriano
‘Behaviors’ is an exploration of the process of dislocation. The focus of the exhibition is on the creation of ‘the foreigner’ – a being forged by unfamiliar surrounds and situations. It concerns reactions against the unfamiliar and interactions with perceived commonalities. It is inevitably voyeuristic, but is as much about being watched (scrutinised, suspected, pigeonholed) as watching.
The social contract, relational art and autómata. Although we may consider ourselves tolerant people, when our neighbors seem to transgress certain social norms, we may see a break that leads us to call for our rights. If the neighbors are from another culture, or “tribe”, their rules are probably different from ours.
When I was 12, my favorite TV show was “Las reglas del juego” (The Rules of the Game) (TVE, National Spanish Televisión, 1977) a series of anthropological documentaries that analyzed the principles by which modern societies are governed. Directed and presented by José Antonio Jáuregui, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford, he thought that the behavioral mechanisms related to social life, such as shame, language, social norms and even religion, are innate and universal in the human species. Many years later, during a visit to London in 2000, I attended the exhibition “Intelligence: New British Art 2000” at the Tate Gallery. I discovered with surprise a project called “The Folk Archive”, a visual account of contemporary popular British culture that artists Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane had begun the previous year. This project culminated in 2007 with its acquisition by the British Council and the creation of a virtual museum.
Deller and Kane had transformed their own artistic work into something which could be labelled an anthropological study of British customs. Deller is considered one of the main figures of “relational art”. This art practice places greater emphasis on the relationships established between, and with, the audience of the artistic dynamic rather than on any artistic object. Works that are identified with this artistic movement tend to be situated in everyday activities and contexts. The first uses of the term “relational art” are attributed to Nicolas Bourriaud, former codirector of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, who used it in the title of his book, Relationnelle Esthetique (Relational Aesthetics) ( Les presses du réelle, 1998) and in 1996, in the exhibition catalog “Traffic” curated by himself. Bourriaud posited that the close relationships that the city generates have transformed the conception of artistic activity. For him, the presence of the relational factor in artistic practice responds to a pressing need to encourage the recovery and reconstruction of social nets in a society of split subjects, isolated and reduced to the status of mere passive consumers. Luckily, for the viewers of our exhibition we do not ask him or her for any action, so the critics of this art form, led by Stephen Wright, can relax. Nothing is needed beyond a reflection upon our behaviors. Or not even that: mere contemplation is also worthwhile. One of the things we may choose to contemplate are the terms of the “social contract” that structures some of our relations. In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau published Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique), a work on political philosophy that primarily speeks about the freedom and equality of “men” living under a State established by a social contract.
To live in this society, so the theory goes, human beings agree to an implicit social contract that gives them certain rights in exchange for giving up the freedom that would otherwise be available in the state of nature. As such, the rights and duties of individuals constitute the terms of the social contract, while the State is the entity created to enforce the contract. But the rights and duties are not immutable or natural. And a greater number of rights implies greater duties, whilst fewer rights means fewer duties. This is a very contentious area of discourse in Europe at present.
Mauro Entrialgo’s profound knowledge of human relationships, as seen through his comics – we have a little sample in the exhibition – presents the vision, “From my windows”, of what happens around him. For him, these “behaviors” are just “little moments of my life”. Situations and attitudes that clash and that he reveals, seeking our complicity in a shared laugh.
Baseline (Pilar Baizán) has similar concerns, but to analyze the community around us –for this exhibition Brussels- she use field recordings. Finally her search becomes a sound installation and an experimental live improvisation with the collaboration of Patxi Araujo and Txema Agiriano. Three of them, Baizan, Entrialgo and Agiriano, live in neighborhoods that being gentrified. They analyze this process with compassion and without bitterness.
Jai Du also presents an autobiographical view of a European town, but if Baizán and Entrialgo are part of the regeneration of degraded neighbourhoods undergoing gentrification, she speaks from the other side. She is part of the immigrant community – in her case, living in Germany – who are denigrated by the mere fact of being. Through her poetry she tells of her bitter experience as such. A painful experience that reminds us of the people who may never have a voice.
The painter and photographer Felipe Uribarri represents characters who relate to each other. Through his painting he speaks of social interaction. If social behavior is a response to social stimulation produced by others, including symbols they convey, social interaction is a sequence of stimulus -response relationships. We see this in his work called "social interaction"
The interactive installation "Time Out" of Patxi Araujo, observes our behavior and slows it down. It interact with us suggesting questions. This machine observe our behaviors.
I wonder if “the Turk”, the automaton chess player of Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804), that interacted with chess masters around the world would have worried about all this if he had not been himself a fake. We all, also this “machines”, communicate through our behaviors.
Txema Agiriano, August 2016
Baseline (Pilar Baizán)
Pilar Baizán is artist and musician. From 2004 to 2010 she was known as Baseline, her artistic name as an experimental musician. With this project she has published three albums and has played in well known festivals and venues in Europe and USA.
For this exhibition we have the luck to have her back playing live.
In this exhibition we will see also a sound installation specially made for the gallery and the video “Art openings” a funny work about the behaviors of the people that went to the vernissages.
Nowadays her main project is “Arte entre fogones” (Art in the kitchen) a documentary series, where artists show their works and also cook for the show.
Jai Du started her artistic career as a poet (“Extractos d’Afrique” 2009, “Extractos d’Allemagne” 2011/12 and “Extractos d’UE” 2013/2014) writing about her own experiences in the different countries where she has been living and working. In many cases she has been the voice of people who could not express themselves freely due to the fear of being fired from their jobs.
In 2012, due to the difficulty in the diffusion of poetry books, she started creating video performances inspired by some of her poems and, thanks to these, she has already been presented and projected in known festivals, galleries and art centres (BilbaoArte - Bilbao,
Laboral - Gijón, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica - Barcelona, Artpotheek gallery - Brussels, MEM
festival – Bilbao, Bideodromo festival, etc).
As a performer, Jai Du performs in almost all her videos using her body and pain as her main means of expression. She has had the opportunity to collaborate with the known performers Tania Bruguera and Rocio Boliver participating in international festival such as “Acción!MAD” 2014, “Perfocilinne” 2013 and “El Arte es Acción” 2009.
Nowadays her work is focused on the creation of video performances that directly address political and social issues, such as the European crisis, migration and questions of cultural integration, gender roles in different work sectors, the current concept of “artist” etc.
Mauro Entrialgo was born in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country – Spain) in 1965 and is one of the most prestigious cartoonists in Spain. A frequent contributor to many newspapers and magazines since the early 80s, he has published over 50 graphic novels and has written for theater, film and TV. He is also the lead guitarist of the rock band “Esteban Light”.
In his comic books and strips he explores relationships, friends and life.
He has also made a series of videos called “Trocitos de mi vida” (Little moments of my life). We show one of the works in this series, “Desde mis ventanas” (From my windows), which reveals some of the hidden moments in his neighbourhood.
In this exhibition visitors have also the opportunity to view two of his comicbooks from the “Angel Sefija” series. This series, of course, talk about behaviors.
In this new world of digital culture with apparent, virtual and intangible reallities, with machines without soul, body and thoughts, Araujo asks what happens if we put the time in a freezing room. You will move slower? ¿It takes longer to grow old? Is there a difference in the image of an object observed by a human or a machine? How do you see yourself and how does the machine imagines you?
Patxi Araujo (Pamplona, 1967) is an artist and professor of the Department of Art and Technology Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. Artist experienced in the field of fine arts, has applied his research in scenery, sound, visual generation, installations, events and interactive environments. His work explores the relationships between art, technology and poetics.
In his drawings, painter and photographer Felipe Uribarri represents characters who relate to each other. Through them he speaks of the social interaction. If social behavior is an answer to social stimuli produced by others, including symbols they convey, social interaction, is a sequence of stimulus-response relationships. We see this in his serie, that we present here, "Social interaction".
Felipe Uribarri is a researcher, painter and photographer with long career. Nowadays he is involved on a research on false attributions in Baroque painting.
Bachelor of Fine Arts, after passing through famous Arteleku workshops, he obtained numerous awards, among which is the 2nd prize of Gure Artea in 1991. He has show his works in many galleries, specially in the Basque Country.
His work is in the collections of the Basque Government and Provincial Council of Biscay and in private collections in Bilbao, London, New York, U.S.A,…
Txema Agiriano (Bilbao, Spain 1965) is a researcher, curator, art critic and cultural manager.
He has curate exhibitions in many galleries, museums and art spaces in the USA, Australia and specially in Europe.
He is also responsable for MEM experimental arts International festival www.festivalmem.com ,
Bideodromo international experimental film and video festival www.bideodromo.com , ExperimentoBio international photography contest www.experimentobio.com and Cultural Recipes project www.recetasculturales.com
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