rss feed Imprime esta páxina Envía esta páxina
Documents. The Memory of the Future

Documents. The Memory of the Future


30 March 2007 - 24 June 2007
Exhibition galleries on the first floor
Tuesday to Saturday (holidays included), from 11am to 9pm. Sundays, from 11am to 3pm
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo / Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea
Rosa Olivares

Works on exhibition

The exhibition gathers up to 78 works: photographs (Bleda y Rosa, Luc Delahaye, Jacques Fournel, Sebastián Friedman, Brian Mckee, Alec Soth), videos (Juan Manuel Echavarría), digital copies (The Atlas Group/Walid Raad), and an istallation by Ann-Sofi Sidén.


  • Koldo Mitxelena Kulturenea, San Sebastián (January 25th - March 17th 2007)

  • MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo (March 30th - June 24th 2007)


Beginning with the boom and the increasing importance of the documental photography in contemporary art, the exhibition ‘DOCUMENTS. The Memory of the Future' analyses the different ways of recreating or building contemporary reality. Co-produced by Koldo Mitxelera Kuturunea from San Sebastián and MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, the show gathers the work by nine artists with an unquestionable creative power as well as an outstanding presence in the international artistic scene.

While being nine ways of handling with the photographic image from quite different views, intentions and approaches, all of them talk about the complex relation between art and document, framed into documental parameters, not in terms of press report, but as a subjective recreation of a specific situation. Various are the ways in which these nine artists face their present, but they are joined by the necessity of giving evidence of a specific fact and a specific moment; sometimes not from the direct testimony but from the reconstruction of a story told and recover though other written documents and oral tales.

Thus, Juan Manuel Echavarría has compiled an oral tradition from the voice of anonymous souls witness to tragedy. In Bocas de Ceniza, he lends his ears and his capacity to produce and spread their pain to the surviving victims of the massacres that took place in Colombia. This work is an intimate and personal approach of the artist, which obliges us to get involved in a universal story of pain and injustice. Ann-Sofi Sidén also reconstructs a story from the past, but in this case there are no direct witnesses. It is a reconstructed story staged in which she catalogues typologies of crimes that have historically been attributed to women, such as witchcraft, prostitution, abortion, etc. Women's crimes that she exemplifies in singular cases from the history of her country, and that she sets in black-and-white in images resembling illustrations, accompanied by explanatory texts of each case.

Luc Delahaye works in a totally opposite direction, and produces memorable documents, monumental historical frescoes of events that are not so much unknown, but familiar. Here, the artist is the witness and tells about them just as he saw them, in a direct way. Having mastered photojournalism skills (he was a photographer fro the Magnum agency), lighting large spaces and that capacity to work "live" with reality in real time, Delahaye constructs large works that are direct heirs of history painting.

But it is not only the transcendent, but life itself, the private, anecdotal things are what define this current society. Touring around the tour operator's iconic places, Jacques Fournel presents an ironic view on tourism, entertainment and the devotion of the middle-class masses, of an international bourgeoisie that invades faraway coasts, lost paradises, with the same indifference as they do airports and mythic monuments.

Alec Soth tells us about something else that is apparently banal, which through the artist's view becomes a social document: the story of a place, Niagara Falls, a small tourist town in Canada, like a rustic Las Vegas; a mythic honeymoon spot and idyllic landscapes that are synonymous with weddings and everlasting happiness in all of North America. Soth constructs a story with real fragments: the wedding dress, the love letters, the newlywed hotels, etc.; but the viewer is the one who fills in the gaps between the images, and when viewing those "instruments" of happiness we are inevitably reminded of separations, unhappiness, and perhaps the impossibility of everlasting love.

Sebastián Friedman makes us think of the personal relationships that emerge in a working world as strict and restricted as that of the housework in the family. The series Familia e doméstica offers us two images in diptych form: one shows the employer family with the employee, a servant; in the other image, the maid appears in her own family environment. An intimist and apparently amiable document on a social labour problem of the domestic service, which involves many other moral aspects, from feudal treatment to the irreconcilable situation of bringing a pure working relationship into the realm of the family.

The couple formed by María Bleda and José María Rosa document places such as spaces occupied by memory and human history and civilization. In Origen, they address the very point of permanent research in scientific society today: searching for the trace of the first humans on earth, the conflict of dates and places where in a very specific moment the scientists have dated the first man, each time in a different place of the planet, some million years earlier each time.

War is the preferred theme of any documentary-maker, perhaps surpassed only by natural or manmade disasters, but there are many ways of putting it into images: Brian McKee has travelled throughout Afghanistan after the destruction. He has visited palaces whose parlours were unrivalled places of refinement and exotic decoration, and he coldly shows us what is left, what the aftermath of the destruction is like when there are no more cadavers or smoke, how the history of civilization is transformed, its riches are converted into dust and its customs are forgotten. They are about the savage intrusion that war and destruction produces in a culture, in a civilization of which the occupier knows nothing and for which he has not the least respect.

From a very different perspective operates The Atlas Group, an artistic research group founded by the artist and professor Walid Raad, who tries to reconstruct an image of Lebanon based on the destruction, by recovering, from the rubble caused by the bombings and the war an artistic production that in their hands inevitably becomes a document. My Neck is Thinner than a Hair, consists of an archive of 250 images if exploded car bombs in Lebanon, with photographic and textual documentation, is no doubt a document in a pure state, although it nevertheless entails the characteristics of the regrouping of materials, selection and mise-en-scene that define an idealized creation of a demonstrated reality.



    Alec Soth
    Ann-Sofi Sidén
    Bleda y Rosa
    Brian Mckee
    Jacques Fournel
    Juan Manuel Echavarría
    Luc Delahaye
    Sebastián Friedman
    The Atlas Group/Walid Raad

Curatorial text

"Like archaeological excavations and studies, art is constructed and developed in layers. Yet unlike an excavation, artistic theory is generated by juxtaposing some ideas with others, and by placing upon these still another layer, another stratum, and other ideas from another historical and cultural moment. Inevitably, rather than drawing on the ideas immediately preceding a certain era, though they are founded in its knowledge, some epochs will reclaim other more distant ideas which might already be forgotten, or even refuted. Nevertheless, they will be cherished and they will serve to establish new postulates that, in the long run, will prove not to be so new. Indeed, the simple fact is that there is almost nothing in the world that can be considered new, except in its forms, in its presentation, in its promotion. In any case, the evolution of thought and culture has taught us the great lesson of relativity, the acceptance that what one person has demonstrated, another can challenge and that, nonetheless, no one is slighted, no one is mistaken. Perhaps everything depends only on the historical moment, on the cultural place whence the assertion is made.

The fine arts, now renamed visual arts, have always been considered to be a realm apart from documentation, despite the fact that history deploys art to illustrate its most outstanding milestones, to provide its protagonists with faces, sometimes several of them for a single character. The artists included in DOCUMENTS. The Memory of the Future (Alec Soth, Juan Manuel Echavarría, Jacques Fournel, Sebastián Friedman, Walid Raad, Bleda y Rosa, Luc Delahaye, Brian McKee and Ann-Sofí Sidén) give a face to the anonymous, give details of all of us.

The works in this exhibition are documents, remains of a civilization, of a disparate historical stage, which speak to us about the collective and the particular, about aspects of opulent and unbelieving societies, about death and pain, about stupid and cruel murders, and also about official violence, war and its present and its past; also about our future. They are fragments of ourselves, of that world we have built and destroyed, pieces of images that form a mosaic that, perhaps, some archaeologist from the future will have to rebuild to thus discover a people like us. Everything we do leaves a trace behind, a memory that artists gather, construct and transform in order to leave messages in big and small bottles that can someday serve to tell about our pains and our dreams, but also our failure. These documents will build our memory in the future. With today's art, and especially with photography and video, we are leaving our remains catalogued for tomorrow so that this way, although it may be late, something of what we have done will make some sense to someone. When everything has passed and, possibly, nothing matters anymore."

Rosa Olivares
Exhibition curator


Rosa Olivares

Publisher, writer, journalist, art critic an independent curator, Rosa Olivares (Madrid, 1955) is since year 2000 publisher and director of EXIT Imagen & Cultura, a quarterly publication devoted to the photographic image in contemporary art. Exit BOOK was fist published in December 2002, a magazine on visual culture and contemporary artistic publications. In February 2004, she brought Exit EXPRESS to light, a monthly newspaper of information and debate on current art. In 1982 she was co-founder of the magazine LÁPIZ. Revista de Arte Internacional, where she worked as editor in chief then becoming vice-director and director until 1999.

As independent curator focusing on the field of contemporary photography she has organized , among others, the following exhibitions: ‘Einsamkeit, un sentimiento alemán' (Fundació La Caixa, Madrid and Barcelona, 1992); ‘Entre la Pasión y el Silencio, nueva imagen de la fotografía española' (25º Anniversaire des Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d'Arlés, France; Fototeca de La Habana; Palacio de Revillagigedo, Asturias, 1994); ‘Mujeres: 10 Fotógrafas/50 Retratos' (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 1994); ‘Los géneros de la pintura. Fotografía contemporánea y su relación con la pintura' (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid; CAAM de Canarias; Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, 1995); ‘Diálogos: Andrés Serrano/Leonel Moura' (MEIAC, Badajoz, 1996); ‘La Imagen del Poder: 100 años de retratos de políticos españoles' (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 1998; Instituto Cervantes, Rome and Munich, 2000; Milan, 2001); ‘El Enigma de lo Cotidiano' (Casa de América, Madrid, 2000); ‘Miradas impúdicas', (Fundació La Caixa, Barcelona, 2000); 2004 ‘Axel Hütte: Terra Incognita' (Palacio de Velázquez-MNCARS, Madrid, 2004) and ‘Rafael Navarro: Cuerpos iluminados' (Lonja de Zaragoza e MEIAC de Badajoz, 2006).

Rosa Olivares has also organized or taken place in courses, seminars and encounters on art in various universities and cultural institutions in Spain, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Portugal, and she has written texts for numerous books and exhibition catalogues of art centres and museums all over the world.