Critics’ Picks

Enric Farrés Duran,fems nous, fems vells, 2022, Photography, 11 3/4 × 8 1/4". Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

Enric Farrés Duran,fems nous, fems vells, 2022, Photography, 11 3/4 × 8 1/4". Photo: Roberto Ruiz.


Enric Farrés Duran

NoguerasBlanchard | Madrid
Beneficencia, 18B 2º
April 2–May 28, 2022

While many artists have turned to “the archive” as an allegory for the various mechanisms and politics involved in historiography, few have done so while resisting the urge to create a dense, unwieldy archive of their own. Enric Farrés Duran’s exhibition “Acid Love Forever”the result of the artist’s recent collaboration with the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona’s historical archive—foregrounds the tools and fetishes of the archivist, assembling a collection of bleak and funny objects that provide quick, conceptual plunges into the quixotic ideals of art conservation.

While some pieces play as smart-alecky jokes along the well-trodden path of art’s arbitrary systems of valuation (Crepúsculo—Certificado a medias [Twilight—Half Certificate, all works cited 2022], presents a blank, framed certificate of authenticity, evoking the presence of the “real” doppelgänger next door in the gallery’s office), Duran’s work is most captivating when the initial punch line resonates with a deeper, weirder poignancy. In Hongo disecado (Desiccated fungus), an envelope bearing the letterhead of Barcelona’s Fundació Antoni Tàpies has been laced with a mold-inducing agent, resulting in dried brush marks and fungal blooms that gently parody the late Catalan painter’s infected, Matterist style.

Half-hidden near the exit, a stack of found photographs pasted one atop the other hangs vertically along the wall. The work’s title, Ostra (Oyster) seems, at first glance, a reference to the mercurial swirls on the surface of its irreparably water-damaged topmost photo. Upon request, however, the work can be removed from the wall and pried open like a deck of cards to reveal a tiny image of a pearl. The gesture, performed casually with ungloved hands, comes as a genuine surprise—an instance of an institution momentarily participating in its own unraveling, and a suggestion that it is something invisible within the work, more than the work itself, that warrants preserving.