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Looking for euphoria is a way of endeavouring to forget a precarious situation and to take a leap into some unknown place. Jugada a Tres Bandas (3-way play) is a strategy to unite, celebrate and enjoy…forgetting that perhaps there isn´t much to unite, celebrate or enjoy.
There are events that repeat in the calendar that lend the feeling that everything is carrying on, that art and culture are moving, that we are all together –in the same boat- in an effort, between euphoric and desperate, to pretend that everything is ok. However, we are living in a world of events without consequences, where strategies, if there are any, have no or barely any results, despite all the efforts made.
The second edition of “Jugada a Tres Bandas” (3-way play) was presented in the middle of April, a proposal by the curator Virginia Torrente: a route around 16 galleries in Madrid, all simultaneously presenting their exhibitions, with this year Portugal being the invited country. Ja3b aims to fill the expositional “gap” between ARCO and Photoespaña, in a city, Madrid, that has always had a certain predilection for big events – media events – even in times of crisis, giving the sensation that the rest of the time nothing is going on.
However, don’t the galleries have exhibitions the rest of the year? There are always exhibitions. However, what is perhaps novel here, though not so novel, is that independent curators, at the invitation of the galleries, have designed the exhibitions. It is not surprising that artistic agents seek out new possibilities and new sources, in the face of the institutional suspense in which we are immersed. Nor even that Spanish galleries strive to find new possibilities, it’s logical if we bear in mind the scant and virtually insignificant role that they play in the international market. So to tighten relations with the neighbouring country that seems to look at us, and which we never look at, Portugal, seems in principle a good strategy.
Institutions looking towards companies and galleries casting their eyes outward in search of oxygen (or liquidity) to reactivate the market and the country’s artistic production? In whatever form, it is a good and obligatory opportunity to think about the relations that are established in the gallery circuit, the type of open calls set in motion by these initiatives, how the routes are chosen and if they open up the city, what strategies are used to reach the public, as well as studying the collaborations that arise and the continuity that they all have. The objective has to be the creation of networks that go beyond the economic agreement and the mere exchange of objects, or simply marking the calendar, in a city, that on the other hand, isn’t lacking events.
The exhibitions take a variety of forms, although the formats are on the whole conventional. Ana Santos and Joâo Ferro Martins, both Portuguese, are the proposal of the gallery, The Goma, curated by José Castañal: two artists that reflect upon the concept of painting through ready made objects to which they grant a new lease of life. “Narraçoes fragmentadas” (Fragmented stories) is the show curated by Tania Pardo and Cristina Anglada at the gallery Liebre. Painting, drawing and collage by Jaime Abad, Marthino Costa, Santiago Lara and Luis Nobre, the latter a seventy year old artist considered up and coming, which places in evidence how up and coming is not a question of the artist or of age, so much as a way of understanding art. In the case of the gallery Elba Benítez, the Portuguese curator is Ricardo Nicolau, sub-director of the Museo Serralves in Oporto. Here, he presents the exhibition “Prince”, by the Lithuanian artist Gintaras Didziapetris, with a small selection of paintings, photographs and a video; an artist who enjoys ambiguity and poetic charge. Luján Marcos and Roberto Vidal as curators in the space Mad is Mad, reflect upon the current dandyism, a concept that is shaped by disinterest and ambiguity, far from Baudelaire’s refined and attentive dandy. “Esperando a Houdini” (Waiting for Houdini), in the gallery Raquel Ponce, is a photographic exhibition by Noé Sendas and Miguel Ángel Tornero, two artists that use “magic” in their works and in whose pieces language is converted into visual metaphor. Curiously enough this is the only exhibition curated by the organiser, Virginia Torrente, in which no Portuguese artist “has crept in”. “Una tirada de dados” (A throw of the dice) in Moriarty, at the hands of David Barro and María de Fátima Lambert, has gambled on carrying out a radio-phonic project between Spain and Portugal, that will continue in time, along with the publication of a collective magazine, El Estado Mental Radio (The Mental Radio State).
One of the new features of this edition is that two independent spaces have joined in, Felipa Manuela and noestudio. The first an old home converted into a residency for artists and the second, an old fish farm, coordinated by the artists Miki Leal, Abraham Lacalle, Jaime de la Jara and Jacobo Castellano, where they exhibit work by other creators. Two spaces, two different contexts, that have arisen independently out of a need within the artistic framework of the city, and which despite the difficulties inherent in their formats, seem to function.
Exhibitions as ways of creating new relations and contacts, galleries that invite curators and curators who in turn invite artists, a gambit, a three hand trick, in which the non-specialist public plays little part. We are perhaps heading towards a dynamic of self-management that seeks encounters between all the artistic agents, a “let’s do it ourselves”, in the interest of offering an image of unity to the possible buyer or visitor. The challenge is now to include this public, so that it doesn´t have the sensation of being excluded from a game between friends.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)