An Approach to the Confluences between Art, Architecture, and Design in Catalonia


Subversive Practices
Art under Conditions of Political Repression
60s–80s / South America / Europe

Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
May 30 – August 2, 2009

Curators: Valentín Roma, Daniel García Andújar

Ricardo Bofill/Taller de Arquitectura, Eugeni Bonet (Archive), COAC Archiv, Enric Franch (Archive), Antoni Muntadas, Pere Portabella, Grup de Treball, Sala Vinçon (Archive)

This project sets out to reconstruct the aesthetic and political dimension acquired by conceptual practices in Catalonia during the nineteen-seventies. With this in view, the analysis has been oriented toward a set of proposals developed in a variety of areas—art, architecture, design, film, and education—which nevertheless all shared the same circuits of visibility, closely related language and attitudes, and certain ideological positions that were characterized by their spirit of protest and antagonism. The core of the project consists of five pieces by the Grup de Treball that in some sense point to the disciplines mentioned above. In order to contextualize these, a heterogeneous archive has been put together, drawn from the documentary holdings of (amongst others) the COAC (Association of Architects of Catalonia), the Sala Vinçon gallery, the FAD decorative arts association, and the Elisava and Eina design schools, along with a number of art projects—the film Esquizo (Schizo) by the Taller de Arquitectura and Reflexões sobre a morte (Reflections on Death) by Antoni Muntadas, among others—and also a selection of visual and bibliographical documents from those years. (Valentín Roma, Daniel García Andújar)

All texts unless otherwise noted: Valentín Roma

Ricardo Bofill/ Taller de Arquitectura
Esquizo (Schizo), 1970
Film on DVD, 80’

A study of the relationship between art and madness. An experimental documentary on the structure of a brain, the disquiet of an artist and his distorted vision of the world. The film describes the horror of the human condition, a mere instant between nothingness and nothingness.

COAC Space, Barcelona
The exhibition hall of the COAC (Association of Architects of Catalonia) was during the 1970s a space which held numerous performances, workshops and lectures that discussed the role of the new artistic languages in Barcelona.

Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Report about information, 1965

In 1965, during his imprisonment in Lerida, Vázquez Montalbán wrote the Report about information, perhaps the first book that analyzes the political and economic role of the media in Spain. This study was strongly perceived by some conceptual artists who, at that time, began to critically question the role of the media.

Antoni Muntadas (USA; 1942, E)
Reflexões sobre a morte (Reflections on Death), 1973
Slide projection with 80 slides
Courtesy: Muntadas/Collection: Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Pere Portabella
Miró, l’altre (Miró, the other), 1969
Script: Pere Portabella, Photography: Manuel Esteban, Music: Carles Santos, Editing: Teresa Alcocer, Production: José Pedro Villanueva / Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Barcelona (COAC) / Films 59

One of the most significant projects at COAC was the film Miro, the other (1969) by Pere Portabella, who recorded the action paintings of Joan Miró at the front glass of the building – and the removal of the same, carried out by the artist himself.
see also: Diego Trerotola, in:

Grup de Treball
Francesc Abad, Jordi Benito, Jaume Carbó, Alícia Fingerhut, Xavier Franquesa, Carles Hac Mor, Imma Julián, Antoni Mercader, Antoni Munné, Muntadas, Josep Parera, Santi Pau, Pere Portabella, Àngels Ribé, Manuel Rovira, Enric Sales, Carles Santos, Dorothée Selz and Francesc Torres
The appearance of Grup de Treball marked a turning point in Catalan culture. First, for their work as a collective and, second, for their interest in moving away from conventional artistic practices and joining a critical current where art had to fulfil a social function. Their brief contribution was made in a setting characterised by an unstable political climate, which coincided with the hardening of repression that marked the last years of the Franco dictatorship.
Grup de Treball set out to distance itself from the usual distribution channels of works of art. Whenever possible they used the press to publish their communiqués and set up information centres at their exhibitions.

Champ d’attraction. Document. Travail d´information sur la presse illégale des Pays Catalans. 9è Biennale de Paris (Field of Attraction. Information work on the illegal press in Catalonia. 9th Paris Biennial), 1975
Photography, sticker of colours, 11 copies, each 143,5 x 92,5 cm
Courtesy: MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Shown for the first time at the IX Paris Biennial (1975) and later at the 1976 Venice Biennale and the exhibition Venice Biennale. Art avantgarde and social reality in Spain 1936-1976 (1976-1977), this work contains an analysis of the situation of the Catalan illegal press through images, graphic elements, texts and a wide selection of copies of underground publications.
The passing of the terrorism law in 1975 and the declaration of the state of emergency meant that the work had to be presented unsigned, which, once the Paris Biennial had finished, brought about the end of the activities of Grup de Treball. Owing to the Spanish political situation and the dangerously political character of the work, the text that was designed to appear in the Paris catalogue was not published; two pages were left blank for fear of repression.

Treball col·lectiu que consisteix a verificar la distribució de 44 professions entre 113 persones segons una nota apareguda últimament a la premsa (Collective work consisting of checking the distribution of 44 professions among 113 people according to a report which had appeared recently in the press), 1973
Paper work, 7 pages, each 29,7 x 19,3 cm
Courtesy: MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

This work is a distribution of the professions of the 113 members of the Catalan Assembly—two of whom belonged to Grup de Treball—who were arrested in the church of Santa Maria Mitjancera in Barcelona in August 1973 and was included in the catalogue-dossier for the exhibition Terrassa, Art Information. It is therefore a proposal in which specific condemnation is approached from procedures related in some way to visual poetry.

Homenatge a l’arquitectura (Homage to Architecture), 1975
Paper work, variables dimensions
Courtesy: MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

This intervention was done using the official poster for the exhibition Homage to Architecture as support. From a kind of conceptual diagram, Grup de Treball analyses its participation and makes a frontal attack on the exhibition organization structures and their mechanisms for controlling the artists.

Cartell del col.lectiu “Solidaritat amb el moviment obrer” (Poster by the “Solidarity with the Workers Movement” collective), 1973
Paper work, 50 x 80 cm
Courtesy: MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Published by the Solidarity with the Workers’ Movement collective to raise funds, this poster was distributed clandestinely on the occasion of the anniversary of the Second Spanish Republic of 1934. The work, which includes the entries repressió (‘repression’), repressiu-iva (‘repressive’) and repressor -a (‘repressor’), taken from the Pompeu Fabra Catalan Dictionary, recalls works that reflect on the relation between language and art.

Sala Vinçon, Barcelona
Postcard collection, 1973-83
Courtesy: Eugeni Bonet

Between 1973 and 1983, the La Sala Vinçon in Barcelona was a place that held many exhibitions, workshops and conferences related to conceptual art. From Wolf Vostell to Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, from Alessandro Mendini to Muntadas, from Bigas Luna to Àngel Jové were many who participated in the planning of this meeting point around which gathered several generations of artists and designers.

Subversive Practices


Subversive Practices
Art under Conditions of Political Repression
60s–80s / South America / Europe
May 30–August 2, 2009

Press Conference
Friday, May 29, 2009, 11 am

Friday, May 29, 2009, 7 pm

May 30–31, 2009

Curators’s Tours
with Hans D. Christ / Iris Dressler
Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 6:30 pm
Sunday, August 2, 2009, 4:30 pm

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