Ibon Aranberri, Exercises on the North Side, 2004–2007, color film in 16 mm, 22 minutes. Production still.

Ibon Aranberri, Exercises on the North Side, 2004–2007, color film in 16 mm, 22 minutes. Production still.

Ibon Aranberri

Ibon Aranberri, Exercises on the North Side, 2004–2007, color film in 16 mm, 22 minutes. Production still.

Organigrama” (Organogramme) is a transparent exhibition that combines various installations in the gallery space, exposing the multiple possible intersections between them and revealing both the production processes and their results in the here and now. It’s like a musical score with entropic dynamics, a stage on which the works are organized and collapse, recombine and multiply. It offers, then, a reminder that it is still possible to intelligently rethink the exhibition apparatus not in order to neutralize artworks by means of a hermetic presentation, but in order to delve into their narrative potential. Many and diverse, the stories combined in “Organigrama” are not organized hierarchically. The exhibition is about the notion of the sculptural, but it is also a drastic denial of the very idea of landscape and a reflection on civilizing violence.

Though Ibon Aranberri’s idea of sculpture has Minimalist roots, his art has long had a political dimension removed from the pure phenomenology of historical Minimalism. It’s not about exploring what might take place before a sculpture as a real object to be experienced, but rather about provoking multiple collisions between forms and the layers of meaning that they entail. Found Dead, 2007, is explicit about this: Numbered pieces of an obelisk offer evidence of how the logic of the monumental actually partakes of an industrial and reproductive dynamic by which memory becomes a serialized product of political technology. This same perspective is what organizes Gramática de meseta (Meseta Grammar), 2010, a work that—through slides, photographic prints, plans, and drawings—documents the displacement of antique monuments to make way for infrastructure projects, thus attesting to the vulnerability of place and all the traces that time leaves on it.

The idea that landscape can no longer be considered nature, but rather is a battlefield on which many social and political actors contend, is the most explicit of the narratives that the exhibition puts forth: It makes constant reference to what human actions do to natural terrains. Política hidraúlica (Hydraulic Politics), 2004–10, consists of ninety-eight aerial photographs of swamps and reservoirs showing the damage that infrastructure does to landscape. Mar del Pirineo (Pyrenean Sea), 2006, materializes a flooded landscape as an upside-down topographic model. Both the descending and the ascending perspectives reach the same conclusion: Civilization is also a subtle, twisting form of barbarism with airs of progress; it is always ultimately the violent maker of ruins. In terms of the relations between nature and culture, the influence of Robert Smithson’s work is at least as strong as the influence of Robert Morris’s sculptural “anti-form.”

The final outcome of this constellation of narratives is the deconstruction of landscape, which emerges as a social and cultural construction. In the film Exercises on the North Side, 2004–2007, this sense is overwhelming: The attempt to portray a dramatic, snow-covered mountain setting through technology seems futile in the face of the sublime power of nature, yet that very failure ends up obliquely presenting it to us.

Martí Peran

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.