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15 November 2002 - 23 February 2003
Ground Floor
From Tuesday to Sunday (including holidays): from 11:00h to 20:00h. On Fridays from 11:00h to 23:00h.
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Bartomeu Marí
Dirk Snauwaert

Works on exhibition

Original drawings of the Panopticon. Jeremy Bentham (1791): 5
Sculptures: 10                                                                                            Video installations: 7
Photographs: 5                                                                                           Photographic installations: 2
Photographic series: 4                                                                              Installations with slides: 2
Drawings: 12                                                                                               Film projections: 1
Etchings, blueprints: 17                                                                            Video projections: 3
Installations: 2                                                                                             Sound installations: 1
Models: 2



The metamorphosis undergone by the building that houses the Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo from a prison and a court house to an art centre has been the argument used by the curators, Bartomeu Marí and Dirk Snauwaert to structure one of its inaugural exhibitions. In such a way, the museum opens its doors with an exhibition dedicated to the building housing it. Both curators considered that its particular history, its panoptic structure, based on Jeremy Bentham's (1748-1832) original concept, its current reform and its transformation into a museum were suggestive topics which could be a good central motif around which an exhibition of international contemporary art could be articulated.

The narrative layout of the exhibition is based on this transition. Works linked to the world of prisons and with panoptic architecture will be displayed in the first rooms. Among them are 5 original etchings made by Bentham's draughtsman after his instructions, presented by London University College.

In the adjoining rooms and courtyards you will find works of art related to different optic and visual devices: installations dealing with the technology of monitoring and surveillance systems, image-deconstruction technologies, installations done with microscopes, video installations etc.

At the end of the route, a room has been devoted to playfulness, to escapes and the search for freedom.

The appeal of the theme and the interest aroused by the proposal is obvious by the list of guest artists, which offers us an excellent view of the current diversity of artistic production, while acting without age prejudices or distinction according to country of origin or medium: 26 artists from 13 Countries (Albania, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, USA, Finland, France, Holland, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden) encompassing different generations, from Nicolas Schöffer, burn in Kolocsc (Hungary) in 1912, to Anri Sala, born in Tirana (Albania) in 1974.

It also spans several centuries, since it includes works ranging from Bentham's etchings (circa 1791) to the latest video productions by Sergio Prego, produced in 2002, which are shown on a plasma TV set, going through photographs, projections of videos or slides, charcoal drawings, sculptures, installations, etc.



    Alberto Simon
    Annika Larsson
    Anri Sala
    Bas Jan Ader
    Ceryth Wyn Evans
    Constant Nieuwenhuis
    Esko Männikkö
    Eulàlia Valldosera
    Gregor Schneider
    Gustavo Romano
    Harun Farocki
    James Casebere
    Johannes Kahrs
    Jorge Barbi
    Langlands & Bell
    Michaela Melian
    Montserrat Soto
    Nicolas Schöffer
    Pawel Althamer
    Pedro Tudela
    Rui Chafes
    Sergio Prego
    Tacita Dean
    Tony Oursler
    Valerie Jouve

Curatorial text

"Located in the very heart of the city, the MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, is right in the middle of its most frequented shopping area. Shop windows, commercial precincts and public spaces surround what until1976 was a place associated with law and order, the administration of justice and punishment. The new museum repeats the architectural style and original structure of the prison in the shape of a radial panoptic building with a front entrance and a central point from which the different wings come out, separated by sizeable courtyards.

The CARDINALES exhibition draws its inspiration from this architectural layout, its meaning and its historical implications. It means to celebrate the transformation of the use of the building, as well as the notion of a contemporary art museum as a space dedicated to freedom, social interaction and to the achievement of knowledge and pleasure. From a place of imprisonment into a space of recreation, from being used for isolating individuals from society to bringing people together by means of an eminently socialising activity.

Linking the new use of the building with the daily lives of visitors and of the people of Vigo in general is one of the main aims inspiring the inauguration of the museum. The exhibition intends to be a metaphoric homage to Vigo's seafaring tradition, to navigation and, also, to sight, vision and its vicissitudes.

The notion of "cardinal" refers us to the compass card, to the reticle imposed on space and to time measuring.

CARDINALES spreads out in three sections that give way to each other on the route across the museum rooms, from its visual, architectural core towards the wings and finally onto the large glass-covered courtyards.

The first section is dedicated to the phenomena of monitoring, surveillance and social order. Echoing Jeremy Bentham's (1748-1832) original concept, the panoptic prison is an instrument to reinsert into society those individuals whose behaviour make them expendable. A prison is an instrument of punishment and control organised on the basis of the economy of space and the efficacy of surveillance. This surveillance is visual and it places the watchman in a position of being able to control from a single point the content and evolution of the whole building. The panoptic structure is a static one. In this section we can find works such as the sculptures and installations by the British Langlands & Bell, videos by Annika Larsson, Jeremy Bentham's drawing of the panoptic, or a multi-media installation by Harun Farocki. Other artists present in this section are: Muntadas, Tony Oursler, Montserrat Soto, Rui Chafes and James Casebere.

In opposition to the first one, the next section will deal with the topic of evasion, the escape towards a new horizon, the wish for freedom and travel. In contrast with the opacity and immobility that surrounds the life of a prison inmate, we will find the individual searching for new goals, open landscapes and the experience of time as something constantly moving, abrupt and furiously-paced. We will be able to enjoy here works such as Esko Männikkö's photographic series, a piece of filming by Tacita Dean, documents by Constant Nieuwenhuis on his ideal city-world "New Babylon", the "Cathedral of pleasure" by Nicolas Schöffer, or Bas Jan Ader and Jorge Barbi.

Linked with the panoptic structure and its particular summary of time, a series of works will exemplify the importance that visual devices, seeing-machines and scenographic apparatus have acquired in contemporary art. Works by Eulalia Valldosera, Sergio Prego, Anri Sala and Pavel Althamer, among others. Based on an interior-exterior relationship, the panoramic view will be introduced as a negative correlate to the panoptic; circular architectures will be considered as a space loop and the succession of images as the materialisation of the wish for totality.

CARDINALES is not a demonstrative exhibition but an evolutionary, representative one. It will be evolutionary as it will be structured in the form of visual toings and froings, in an escape from linearity. It will be representative since it will tackle with the current need to reinterpret the recent history of art, leaving aside official canons and being permeable to new formal and intellectual perspectives. The exhibition does not intend to dictate new directions to present-day art, but to be a meeting point from which to look around oneself, at a time when the world has grown so much that its cartographic study is impossible.




Bartomeu Marí

Head of the project for the Centro Internacional de Cultura Contemporánea (International Centre of Contemporary Culture) in Donostia-San Sebastián. Between 1996 and 2002 he was the director of Witte de With, Rotterdam.

Dirk Snauwaert

Curator for the Institut d'Art Contemporain de Villeurbane. Former director of Munich's Kunstverein