Via the works of Catherine Beaugrand, Mira Bernabeu, Heath Bunting, Daniel G. Andújar, Juan Fernando Herrán, Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag and Eulalia Valldosera, “Scattered Affinities” attempts to create spaces for reflection on new forms of relations and of human behaviour.
By means of photographs, light installations, video, sculpture and the Internet, the artists try to find their way through the interstices of the complex networks, in search of specific fields of action for people with disparate and divergent interests.
The phenomenon of globalization has operated a dramatic change in the relationships established between individuals – and in those that these maintain with their surroundings – due, to a great extent, to the invisibility of the subjects holding power and making decisions, as well as to the growing complexity of the events that produce effects on a worldwide or universal scale, a fact which in many cases leads to feelings of frustration and impotence before the impossibility of defining personal individual behaviours. Nevertheless, and in spite of the complicated distance between the effects and the causes imposed on us by such an interconnected reality, certain free zones, expressive voids, do exist that not only inform of the possibility of other forms of relationships but resist that single direction proposed by a way of thinking that values economic factors to the detriment of the social and spiritual values of any given community.
To work in these free zones propounded by these artists, does not imply either a direct confrontation with globalization or a melancholy resort towards an allegedly lost – and fragmentary – Arcadia; rather it intends to create a space for reflection in the search for other networks and circuits that extend in all the spheres of human activity in a large majority of society., the origin of which lie in an experience and memory of a place or community, as opposed to the essentially future and de-territorial dimension proposed by the world’s new order.
In Luna Park (1997) Catherine Beaugrand offers us a fiction that evolves through a continuous flow of images of fairgrounds, both old-fashioned and modern, theme parks, fairs, etc. “Artificial paradises”, according to the slogan, that have arranged and systematised fantasy, places where the simulacrum performs a double balancing act, where not only any object, even the moon, is susceptible of being consumed but where we ourselves become the leading players of the show, thanks to the technology of the image. Theme parks and mass tourism walk hand-in-hand in an attempt to represent history in a linear way, following strategies in the service of consumerism controlled by giant multinationals of leisure.
Daniel G. Andújar ‘s project entitled Technologies To The People poses a global criticism of the fallacy implied by the belief that technology will be the base of a fairer and more democratic world. Although certain prophets of technological goodness have declared that the main inequality will be a generation issue, it is obvious that the countries with a higher number of connections are located in the superdeveloped areas of the world. The work of Daniel G. Andújar frequently unfolds between the intersecting spheres implied by the use of technology and its practice as a sophisticated instrument of control and dominance. A computer poses an illusion (due to its genuine incapacity): the possibility of hacking a telephone company, in the reach of anyone with a minimum knowledge of computer language.
Heath Bunting ‘s activism – or an-artivisim, according to his own denomination – is manifest in work that attempts to establish connections, gateways between cyberspace and the street, creating in both elements of friction and simultaneously proposing new modes of subjective participation and experience. Former graffiti artist of the walls of London, Bunting has become a flâneur strolling equally along the super-highways of information and the streets of any given city, raising the issue of new modes of presence by means of the postal service, the telephone, fax or e-mail within the reach of the majority. The efficiency of his sabotage campaigns is based on the simplicity of procedures which nevertheless introduces themselves with unwonted strength in the systems of power. The proposal made in Identity Swap Database (1999) consists of creating a place of loan and exchange of identities to expedite border crossing for all those whose identity is borrowed. Bunting operates in the crevices between global communication networks, destroying the illusion of blind faith in the mechanisms of technological control and evincing their contradictions.
En círculo [Inner Circle] by Mira Bernabeu (1996), the stereotyped image of the artist’s family dressed in Sunday wear is confronted with another image in which the same people, adopting the same poses, are undressed, bereft of their new clothes now replaced by what is commonly described as underwear. Contradicting the solemnity of the bodies, such clothing appears bloodstained, concealing infinite forms of possible violence. In later series, Mira proceeds with an exploration of a personal identity that is first outlined in the bosom of the family but which subsequently continues to appear in the multiple web of relationships in which experience is materialised, and in one of its forms especially – that of sexuality. The initial violence appears to be transmuted and, as in En círculo, reality and fantasy conceal a complicated plot in which beauty and pain exist side by side.
Eulalia Valldosera, in Shelf for a Hospital Bathroom the alternation of lights and shadows that illuminate and project objects situates transformation in that region of experience in which events take place. From her early works, Valldosera has taken her own body as both a measure and receptacle of exterior reality, and through the body’s relationships with architecture, objects – and in her latest works with other bodies – she has explored notions of sexual identity, love, illness or death. The use of her naked body, pierced by ordinary objects related to personal hygiene or illness, she completely opposes the ideal of the body as a source of health, vindicating illness and healing as a means of restoring the person’s links with his or her surroundings.
In modern minimal disco 4 Jan-Peter E. R. Sonntag proposes that visitors should submerge themselves “acoustically in a paradoxical experimental space”, a space of continuous and infinite acceleration. In this work Sonntag intervenes in the individual’s mechanism of perception, subverting the way in which he or she receives the exterior acoustic signals via the transmission of subfrecuencies functioning as vibrations that literally occupy and spread all over the body of the receiver. The artist suggests another type of body music, and offers a space to be felt individually in a totally different context: the body transformed into sculpture inside an exhibition hall. If modern minimal disco 4 suggest, through the processing of sound waves, a space of continual acceleration, in the work In the yellow Cell (1999) light and temperature determine both the perception of space and one’s way of occupying it. “In this case the artist is not so much the agent transmitting his experiences through artistic transformation, but one who creates the spatial conditions and situations, the conditions of experience itself. The viewer comprehends in a sensuous manner the very incomprehensibility of space.”