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El Relat de l'Art

relat artEl relat de l’art (“The Narration of Art”)

This book was published on the occasion of the edition of ‘QUAM. El relat de l’art’ in 2009, directed by Andrés Hispano and Félix Pérez-Hita.

“’THE NARRATION OF ART’ has been devised as a real-time reflection on an unresolved situation, on the reluctance to reconsider, broaden and update the archetype of artist, to know how to sell the variety and flexibility that today characterises the condition of artist.

This reflection has placed particular emphasis on the responsibility taken by fiction and documentary films shown on the screen, and especially on the television screen, where utopian productions, conceived from the point of view that television is the ideal medium for conveying the complexity of the contemporary world, have failed again and again.” Andrés Hispano

 

EL RELATO DEL ARTE (“THE NARRATION OF ART”)
Andrés Hispano

In a world of images, in a media landscape where everything exists as far as it is represented and in the way it is represented, it becomes essential that the reality of any matter, entity or phenomenon is adjusted to its narration, to the simplified silhouette made up of clichés, fictions, images and headlines, particularly when we get them through a screen. In the context of mass culture, every common issue has a clear visualisation, a construct of suitable images and narrations set to increase its circulation and universality, although this always means sacrificing the nuances and ignoring the exceptions. In past centuries, every artistic, political and scientific revolution relied upon its opportune memes to gain momentum, intelligibility, embrace and contagion. The effectiveness of these memes was accelerated, in a geometrical progression, as they rode on images. For example, those who have concerned themselves about writing a history of childhood underline the extent to which children’s social appreciation runs in parallel to their own iconography, as well as to the  media which can make these images reach every home through the illustrated press or consumer items, such as biscuit boxes or calendars. A similar consideration can be made on the role of images in the class struggle or the worker’s conscience (or simply his image), the feminist struggle or the invention of adolescence, just to mention a few disparate examples. In some cases, just a few images have been capable of activating the imagination , of renewing or strengthening myths and archetypes, such as the painting The Fourth Estate (Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, 1901), regarding the world of labour, or the film Rebel Without a Cause, regarding adolescence. But an archetype may not always be suitable for everyone, particularly for  the one represented by it. What art is and who the artist is in the modern world are questions depending on a narration to which texts and debates have contributed, but which has taken shape according to the way the world of art has represented itself and has been understood as a theme and a motif. This has been done firstly  by giving visibility to the artistic product, to the great collections (Teniers), then subsequently by making the artist’s workshop accessible (from Manet to Warhol) and finally by turning the artist himself into the work of art (from Baudelaire to Koons)..

In general terms, the Romantic myth has until now served art  without being challenged by any other myth, at least in popular imagery. Today, the idea of the artist as an alchemist, a dandy, a bohemian or a visionary committed to the sublime is still part of the conception we have of him. Moreover, the idea is still alive that the exercise of freedom and  art without concessions has to be paid for with ostracism and sacrifices , perpetuating the figure of the artist who is ahead of his own time, as inspired as he is destroyed by his artistic mission. In the US, particularly, now more than ever, outsider art nourishes the artistic catalogue, setting up against the artist with academic training the instinct of the pure, self-taught artist, who is unable to rationalise his process and often to manage its yields. With a phenomenon such as  that which surrounded Henry Darger, we may have an idea of the attachment to the artistic biography as a path of suffering.

It is obvious that Picasso’s happy maturity as a bon vivant, the parties Warhol gave, in which he bragged about the money he had earned, or Duchamp’s attitude to life and art do not fit in this view. Not to mention the display of attitudes and processes developed  during the second half of the 20th century, when the artist’s charisma disappears as an argument and is replaced by a reinforced alliance with technology, interdisciplinary work, performance, humour, an interest in social issues, group work, the immateriality of the artist’s work and even the artist’s very invisibility.

’THE NARRATION OF ART’ has been devised as a real-time reflection on an unresolved situation, on the reluctance to reconsider, broaden and update the archetype of artist, to know how to sell the variety and flexibility that today characterises the condition of artist. This reflection has placed particular emphasis on the responsibility taken by fiction and documentary films shown on the screen, and especially on the television screen, where utopian productions, conceived from the point of view that television is the ideal medium for conveying the complexity of the contemporary world, have failed again and again.As a reaction to this need, some commonplace statements, for example that art is everywhere, that anyone can be an artist or that creativity is part of the chaotic side of the world (the genius is eccentric, absent-minded and untidy) have proven to be effective. Everyday we meet with these clichés but we hardly ever question them, except when we realise that they hinder today’s understanding of art, of its processes and aims.

This book gathers some of the texts presented by the speakers; it also includes the work carried out by those who attended the workshops following the lectures, as well as graphic proposals in the form of a sketchbook made with the material collected before and after the conference – analogous material that was used to support some ideas and trigger some reflections. The overall result is irregular as the issue was approached from different perspectives: personal experience (Lulú Martorell and Manel Barrios shared their experience and eagerness in dealing with the field of culture through television, Frederic Amat dealt with the way he records his own work on video), audiovisual anthology (Gonzalo de Lucas and Fernando de Felipe showed the world of art through cinema and television), or research essay (set out by Jorge Luis Marzo and Carlos Guerra). To that we must add the more critical and informal character of the workshop, in which the rôle of clichés, chance circumstances, and the art market were dealt with in several projects and debates that were as substantial as they were inconclusive.

The challenge is still alive, as proven by the extensive bibliography recently published on the issue and the periodic controversies that have become a characteristic of the world of art, dealing with the origin of its myths and pointing out the areas of friction that should be most urgently modified. Welcome to the debate, to the iconoclastic practice, to the doodle, to the lost thread, to the fleetingness of great ideas, to the unsigned beauty, to serendipity, to the non-exerted talent, the talent that is yet to be discovered, the unexploited, the inflated, the exaggerated and the undeserved , the concealed, the false, the forgotten, the imposed and the fabricated . This is a notebook that contains ideas about the communication of art. It has some blank pages so that you can leave your mark on it.

QUAM 2009 took place between Montesquiu and Vic from 4th July to 10th July 2009

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