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A lot has been said about Room Art Fair, the fair for young art in Madrid that maintains its daring mode of exhibiting, after its first edition three years ago. It’s true. Leaving the white box maybe nothing new, others have done it before, turning the hotel into a place for art exhibitions. Maybe the narrow corridors covered up to the ceiling with authentic motifs have above all a function of asphyxia, far removed from subsequent modern movements. It could also be that the double beds which occupy a major part of the space – making it impossible to be in a room with more than five people—are just winks at a certain piece by Tracey Emin, or to the wrapped up and comfortable nature that characterises a greater part of our emerging artists. Who knows.
The fact is that Room Art Fairmelds interiority with precocity, the many fresh-faced artists wandering around generating a sensation of horizontal proximity, absolute values, where relations substitute the content. Things are such that one moment you see a gallerist lounging in an armchair doing some embroidery, the next you greet a young rising star in the stairs, and then you end up being invited to have your photograph taken in the bathroom.
It’s beyond a joke with the photographs, incidentally, they’re a damned plague. The photo call is a constant possibility in all the stands where mothballs are conspicuous for their absence, i.e. in all the galleries that figure as modern spaces, those that have just begun or those that are overcoming the crisis whatever way they can. Because in Room Art Fair there are also lot of galleries of realist painting, with that veneer of the antique, a lot of Salón des Refusés here the brushstroke and the impression continue to be the insuperable horizon of our time. As far as cameras are concerned, the absurd and the parajoda [sic] reach the point that, faced with a place where it’s all the rage to announce the existence of another fair in MAD «fairly similar to Room Art Fair but only for photographs», one just has to succumb to the obligation of voluntarily offering to photograph the announcer of the stand on a bed. The triumph I suppose of the relational paradigm.
And as so many close relations and personal ties are overwhelming (I intuit) given the extent that the public finds itself accustomed – as is my case – to a vertical relation with visual culture —the same afternoon I visited Room Art Fair I passed by El espejismo exótico, the exhibition at the Casa Sin Fin, where Julián Rodríguez unfurled a formidable theory about postcolonial thought avant la lettre of so many French figures from between the wars; I humbly took notes, copying down the master’s words. And clearly, when the element of mastery blurs, when networking, the forging of a community and homely spirit take over the control tower, then a person interested in learning has to accept the exchanging of visiting cards as the next best thing.
But here we’ve come to something else, if we think back on the main function of the fair, as a varied showcase, a place to exhibit stuff, promote it and trade it; which were the best pieces spotted in the flock? One succulent example is Face 2 Face by Mario Bastian, the installation of the space, In-sonora that carries out a sort of sound map of variable geometry on your face when you enter the bathroom, a hi-fi version of the gaze of the Gorgon and passing of time that anybody experiments at some point in the morning, every day of the year. Each time the end of the world, as Derrida might say.
Highly appealing are also the galleries Factoría de Arte y Desarrollo or SC Gallery, whose catalogue of urban artists (Boris Hooper, Vinz, El Tono, Wester Collective) stands out above other similar proposals. In Factoría de Arte y Desarrollo, on the other hand, I discovered Jorge de la Cruz, an excellent drawer whose animalist imaginary and social obsessions resulted particularly striking; he works, for example, with the fights between the mafias that corner the market of cuddly toys from cartoons on a human scale. Not so long ago we saw a fight between Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty. And there was Cruz working on the aesthetic dimension of the infantile world converted into a stage for wrestling.