Friday, 5 April 2013

Angry Art on Spanish Crisis

'Work is Dictatorship'
WHEN the most radical thing around in English art at the moment seems to be the film 'The Spirit of 45' (reviewed and criticised on this Blog this month, as nostalgic nonesense by Barry Woodling), in Spain a few artists are trying to challenge the nature of the crisis besetting the economy. Julio Falagán, an artist who has recently created several works targeting the financial crisis and the influence of money on society, has complained about the lack of focus of many Spanish artists on the social aspects of what's happening. Señor Falagán said:
'Artists have the power of communication, and I believe a duty to use it at a time like this, but I'm amazed by how few other artists are really trying to say something about this crisis.'

Julio Falagán claimed that the content of a recent arts fair in Galicia in the North West of Spain had only around ten out of one hundred artists on show that presented any concept of the social or crisis related their content. He accuses the Spanish art world of 'navel-gazing' in a crisis.

Isabel Coixet, an award-winning film director from Catalonia in the North East of Spain has worked abroad but filmed her latest film, 'Yesterday Never Ends' in her native land. She made this film after a friend who lost his job, was consequently evicted from his home and spent five months sleeping in his car.  Isabel said she 'wanted to say something about this terrible moment for Spain.'  The film is set in 2017, in a Spain that is in a bad way after its third economic bailout: the morning television news reports make it clear that Spain has descended into an anarchic society, in which statues and other white elephant projects built during the boom years in Spain become targets for terrorist attacks. The two main characters in the film fall out and then meet up again years later, their breakup had been largely occasioned by the death of their child who had died of meningitis because he couldn't be treated in time, because spending cuts left the emergency services short-staffed the day he fell ill. Isabel said of the film:
'I know this can be seen as an apocalyptic landscape, but for me it is the paradigm of the real and daily situation that we already have here, because Spain is crumbling.'

Meanwhile, when Miguel Ángel Ochoa got himself laid-off from his job he got himself on a short-term contract through a Madrid employment agency to take-part in a performance by Santiago Sierra, a major Spanish artist. The job involved sitting at a table in an art gallery writing repeatedly in notebooks eight hours a day for 12 days the sentence 'Work is Dictatorship' until he had blisters on his fingers. For this Miguel Ochoa and the other writers got the minimum wage of 50 euros (£47) a day. Ivorypress is selling the 'Work is Dictatorship' notebooks for 24 euros (£22) each. Señor Sierra's 'Work is Dictatorship' project is part of his crusade against social injustice, especially in the labour market. He explained: 'To give up your body, time and intelligence so that someone else becomes rich is a very bad deal and forms the basis of dictatorship.'

Santiago Sierra said that art aimed at the crisis didn't have 'the visibility of others who prefer less troublesome themes.' The trouble is 'in Spain, the major art collectors happen to be the state and the banks, which is a major reason to dissuade critical thinking,' he said.

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