Juan Vicente Aliaga

  • Samuel Beckett

    Samuel Beckett’s prodigious literary work today seems like a monument to the mistrust of the word as a means of communication. This exhibition, titled “Beckett Films,” was perfectly suited to the monastic atmosphere of the galleries of the Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas (known as the Cartuja), seat of the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo. It also perfectly demonstrated the failure—or triumph, depending—of Beckett’s ideas. From the pioneer piece Film, produced in 1964, to the version for German television of his final work, Was wo (What Where, 1985) originally conceived as

  • “No-Grupo”

    On October 2, 1968, just a few days before the opening of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, the Mexican army committed a massacre in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the city’s Tlatelolco area, killing many students. The incident, whose perpetrators remain unpunished, left its mark on generations of Mexicans, including the artists and creators who became politically aware in the 1970s—a decade that Sol Henaro, the curator of this exhibition, “No-Grupo: Un zangoloteo al corsé artístico” (No-Group: Ripping the Artistic Corset), has called a period of camouflaged calm. The people were fed up

  • Bracha L. Ettinger and Ria Verhaeghe

    This demanding exhibition was not for anyone who might be in a hurry. It required patience, concentration, and above all, a great deal of time. Curator Catherine de Zegher, the former director of the Drawing Center, in New York, has long been looking at convergences in the work of Bracha L. Ettinger, an artist and psychoanalyst based in Israel and France, and Ria Verhaeghe, a Flemish artist who has worked as a nurse. On a broad scale, de Zegher’s major 1996 traveling exhibition, “Inside the Visible: An Elliptical Traverse of Twentieth Century Art in, of, and from the Feminine” (which featured

  • Jesús Martínez Oliva

    Is there an ideology of geometry? This question is a key to Jesús Martínez Oliva’s show, suggestively and disturbingly titled La escuela del miedo (School of Fear). What connection might there be among education, fear, and the supposed rigor of geometry? Can it be that these three go hand in hand? So the exhibition seemed to suggest.

    At the entrance to the gallery, Martínez Oliva placed a group of school desks in the shape of towers, or columns. The legs of these desks, which almost blocked off the back of the gallery, acted as sharp defensive objects; they were reminiscent of turnstiles found

  • picks May 09, 2010

    Joana Vasconcelos

    The most striking works in “Netless,” Joana Vasconcelos’s first survey exhibition in Portugal, are her large-scale sculptures. These pieces occupy the central galleries of the Museu Berardo, as well as the lobby, the stairwell, and the institution’s exterior spaces. The show’s success is due to the skillful way Vasconcelos makes wry use of items from pop culture, religious traditions, and everyday life––including objects such as crochet hooks, hair dryers, stainless steel pots, ceramics, and wine bottles––to construct her works.

    Luso Nike, 2006, for instance, is a three-dimensional reproduction

  • Kaoru Katayama

    The media’s use and abuse of the concept of globalization have led some people to believe that cultural barriers between countries have completely disappeared. Nothing, of course, could be farther from the truth. Among the many who have discovered this for themselves is the Japanese artist Kaoru Katayama, who moved to Spain in 1991. The initial culture clash took place in the city of Salamanca, where Katayama had gone to learn Spanish. To the newcomer, however, language was less a tool of exchange and communication than one of many spheres of misunderstanding. Another involved the Spanish penchant

  • Hannah Collins

    Titles are most certainly one clue to the meaning (or at least part of the meaning) of a work of art. Hannah Collins has given a generic name—“Current History”—to her exhibition in Barcelona. This is also the name of three film projections (all 2007), included in the show, that the artist made in collaboration with inhabitants of Beshentsevo and Niznij Novgorod, towns between the rivers Volga and Oka in central Russia. But in naming this survey of her recent work, Collins elides the specific narrative of her venture into Russia, instead encapsulating all the individuals in her films and photographs

  • Fernando Arias

    Chocó, one of Colombia’s thirty-two provinces, lies on the country’s northwest border with Panama. Fernando Arias settled in the town of Nuquí in the jungles of Chocó in 2006. There, he helped found Casa Chocolate, a cultural center aimed at doing socially committed work in a region known for its fertile vegetation, grinding poverty, and violent conflict. All of these concerns are reflected in Arias’s recent work, including the installation Humanos Derechos (Humans Standing Upright), 2008, which consists of four video projections showing three members of conflicting Colombian factions (the army,

  • Alicia Framis

    The prison at Guantánamo has become a synonym for ignominy and torture. Recently, the United States Supreme Court recognized that prisoners there actually do have constitutional rights. But if human rights organizations have been demanding for years that the prison be closed, President George W. Bush seems determined to keep his notion of an anti-terrorist prison operating until the end of his mandate. In this context, an exhibition called “Guantánamo Museum” cannot go unnoticed. Its presentation in Barcelona was the second phase of a journey that began at the Galería Helga de Alvear in Madrid,

  • Bahman Jalali

    Juan Vicente Aliaga on Bahman Jalali

    Though not a formally trained photographer, for more than four decades Bahman Jalali (born in Tehran, 1944) has recorded historical moments in black-and-white photographs—scenes of which very few other images exist. I am speaking, above all, of “Days of Blood, Days of Fire,” 1978–79, covering sixty-four days in Tehran, from the first mass demonstrations against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi until the army’s withdrawal, leading to the fall of the dictatorship. Similarly, in making the series titled “War between Iraq and Iran,” 1980–88, Jalali visited different

  • Sanja Iveković

    “General Alert—Works, 1974–2007,” the traveling retrospective of the work of Sanja Iveković (curated by Nataša Ilić and Kathrin Romberg), served to open one’s eyes to the recent history of the former Yugoslavia. Iveković was a rare bird in the art scene of Zagreb, where she was born in 1949 and where she studied. Geometrical abstraction and conventional painting predominated, but she has always worked primarily in photomontage and, sometimes, video, and her art addresses a wide range of social, political, and cultural issues.

    Since the ’70s, Iveković has focused on questions of gender and the

  • Martín Chambi

    Martín Chambi was born in 1891 near Lake Titicaca in Peru. He created most of his photographic work in Cuzco—a city whose name in Quechua means “navel of the world”—where he died in 1973. In last year’s large retrospective in Madrid, what stood out was the human quality of his portraits. A striking example, uniting Chambi’s ethnographic concerns with a more personal and subjective dimension, is Autorretrato en portada inka, Machu Picchu, Cusco (Self-Portrait at an Inca Door, Machu Picchu, Cuzco), 1934. Leaning on the opening of one of the many trapezoidal entrances to the stone architectural

  • Alexander Apóstol

    The concept of modernism has so many uses and meanings that, as historian Perry Anderson points out in Modernity and Revolution (1984), it encompasses even incompatible aesthetic practices. Yet the concept is still useful. It is hardly news that some modern architectural adventures have been associated with undemocratic or even totalitarian historical moments—think of an architect like Giuseppe Terragni, who served Italy’s Fascist regime. With such acts of complicity in mind, Venezuelan artist Alexander Apóstol looks at Latin American modernism, demonstrating the collaboration between some

  • Jesús Martínez Oliva

    The first thing one saw upon entering the central nave of the eighteenth-century Verónicas church was a sort of square-shaped, wall-like construction, flanked by two lower horizontal ones stretching back at an angle. Behind these, a light flickered and confusing sounds could be heard. On closer inspection, one discovered that the structure formed by these squares was made of green boards taken from desks of the sort used in Spanish schools. On the other side of the “wall,” it became clear that the light and the sounds were coming from three videos being projected on screens attached to the legs

  • Azucena Vieites

    The most startling thing about this exhibition of drawings by Azucena Vieites is just how hard they are to see. The pieces are fragmentary and incomplete, sometimes positively minuscule. At first glance, the viewer may not understand exactly what is being shown. The object, figure, or landscape—to name some of the motifs that interest this artist—is not looked at directly; rather, it invites sidelong glances, indirect ways of looking. Vieites does not believe in an all-knowing frontal vision.

    Vieites draws inspiration from our image culture. Felt-tip pen in hand, she makes use of music magazines,

  • Pep Dardanyà

    We live in the information age, and that explains the growing and probably excessive eagerness of some artists to accumulate data (images, recordings, graphics, and texts) in the course of analyzing a given problematic. Supposedly, gathering such materials will provide a more complete understanding of the intricacies of the topic at hand. This sociologically informed approach has become characteristic of a large number of contemporary artistic practices, as witnessed in the last two Documentas. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a TV documentary and an artist’s work. Indeed, some

  • Débora Arango

    In 1955, an exhibition by the Colombian artist Débora Arango was censored in Madrid. Under pressure from the Colombian right, an ostensibly devout, Franco-ruled Spain turned its back on her bold and irreverent paintings. Now, half a century later, a much-changed Spanish capital has opened its doors to her. Despite the cultural bonds between Spain and Latin America, Latin American art is still largely unknown here. Consequently, this show—albeit of work by a ninety-seven-year-old artist—was a major revelation.

    Given the ultra-Catholic mentality and provincial culture of the Colombia of Arango’s

  • Ann-Sofi Sidén

    A long, low wooden bench faced a succession of videos projected onto the wall by five projectors. The thirty-five-minute-long 3MPH (Horse to Rocket), 2003, begins mysteriously, with the noise of hoofbeats but no image. Eventually one sees a woman dressed in pants, a blue shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat, setting off for what turns out to be a twenty-five-day journey on horseback.

    The woman is Ann-Sofi Sidén herself. Her project: to ride from San Antonio to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston—an exceptionally slow trip by the standards of contemporary transportation. In a society that

  • João Onofre

    One hears a noise of unknown origin and, after a few disturbing moments, sees a vulture burst into a room. The surprise is terrible—and it is no trick. What was going through Portuguese artist João Onofre’s head when he decided to bring about such a situation, recorded in his video Untitled (Vulture in the Studio), 2002? In an unfamiliar environment, the wild animal climbs onto the tables mounted on easels that enclose the studio space, nibbling on the sheets of paper pinned to the wall as well as the books and catalogues arranged on shelves, and tries to take flight—a short, frustrated flight,

  • Francisco Ruiz de Infante

    Although the protests against the unjust war waged by the Bush administration on Iraq with the support of the Spanish and English governments have been massive, especially in Europe, it is difficult to speak of a clear response from artistic circles. In the case of Francisco Ruiz de Infante’s exhibition “Black Sky,” for instance, the artist did not put forth a rousing, propagandist formulation of a political position. The drawings, sketches, and texts that represent Ruiz de Infante’s initial reflections on this installation demonstrate, rather, the urge to subvert a space that is at once