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“Ideas y presupuestos” (Ideas and budgets) is the proposition of the curator Martí Manen at the Galería Liebre, in the third edition of Jugada a Tres Bandes (Ja3B) , in Madrid. A proposal that has known how to take advantage, in a way that no other exhibition has done in this edition, of the possibilities–and the meaning- of what “jugar a tres bandas” (a three sided game) really means: reflecting on the role of the curator, the gallery and the figure of the collector, with the aim of inventing new formats and thinking about the exhibition from other points of view that can generate new dynamics between the different agents involved.
In “Ideas y presupuestos” works of art aren’t commercialised nor are there tangible objects ready to be consumed, so much as the ideas of 16 artists wait to be purchased in order to be produced. It’s not about selling immaterial works of art nor that the economic transaction be the work of art nor even the vindication of the process or idea as opposed to the object, as Duchamp, Yves Klein (Zones of immaterial pictorial sensibility, 1959) and a long list of conceptual artists already did. What Martí Manen proposes is to sell ideas in a commercial gallery, with the aim that they can be acquired and carried out. For this, the purchaser-collector will sign a contract in which it stipulates that what is being purchased is only the documentation to realize a project and that this documentation on its own doesn’t constitute a work of art until its materialization is concluded. Thereby avoiding, as has occurred so often in the history of art, the appearance of texts and documentation hanging on the walls of a museum or being sold as authentic works of art.
The ideas, typed on bits of card, are presented in the exhibition space and in front of the text that explains the idea the spectator has to activate the only available resource: imagination. Sebastian Beyro proposes a flight between Cap de Creus and Cabo Touriñán during the blue hour, before dawn (14.600 euros). The collective Bonus-Extra asks for the complicity of the buyer to realize a tableau vivant of which a video will be made of a scene from their life (5.200 euros). There are more committed projects, such as that of Priscilla Fernandes, who proposes to create a book of aesthetics following the ideals and objectives of the Modern School of the Fundación Ferrer Guardia (6.870 euros). There are ironic ones, such as that of Carlos Motta, who proposes that a collector copies an original drawing, with the same technique, in order to end up owning the original and its copy (525 euros). And even the impossible, such as that of Ana García Pineda, who proposes with wit and irony, to arrange people geographically, locating them by the colour of their skin, so that, for example, today Asian people or those sick with hepatitis could live in China, for the also impossible sum of 294.342.610.700 euros. Black Tulip converts the house of the buyer into a sort of spaceship (7.480 euros). Connie Mendoza aims to hire four prostitutes for a day so that they can offer their services, alongside statues of Karl Marx and Engels, in Berlin (14.230 euros).
The itemised budget hangs under each one of the ideas, in an excel document that takes into consideration everything from the gallery’s task of coordination and the artist’s fees, to the cost of the materials needed for its production, transportation and set up. A way of making visible what normally remains invisible to the spectator, i.e. the total of what it costs to make an artistic production and its presentation in the form of an exhibition. A way of making transparent what to a great extent frequently determines the result of a project: money. In this sense, the exhibition supposes an intelligent response to the current moment of economic crisis and in the light of the rise in VAT to 21% for cultural products, as ideas are free of taxes, and thinking, at least for the moment, is free.
There has been a lot of reflection about the role of the artist in contemporary art, about the curator, the role of the curator and even about the arrangement of the formal presentation of the products: the exhibition. However, in this process the figure of the collector, the one who acquires an object ready to be consumed, be it for delight and contemplation, or as a speculative investment, has barely been analysed. What this exhibition proposes is that the collector becomes an active agent in the creative process, becoming involved and intervening in the artistic processes that he or she believes in, and rather than just limiting themselves to the purchase of an already completed product, supporting and financing an idea so that it can actually be produced.
Salir de la exposición (si es que alguna vez habíamos entrado), is an essay written by Martí Manen (Consonni, 2012) in which he analyses the exhibition specifically in order to abandon it, to observe and understand its limits and understand what it means to present artistic production. “Ideas y presupuestos” is yet another endeavour to leave the (typical) exhibition and think of new rhythms and forms that go beyond the white cube. All that’s left to be desired is that some of these projects be purchased and thus realised, so that the exhibition doesn’t remain simply a good idea.