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Vigovisións, 1986-2000

Vigovisións, 1986-2000


10 April 2003 - 8 June 2003
First Floor
Tuesdays to Sundays (public holidays included): 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Manuel Sendón
Xosé Luis Suárez Canal

Works on exhibition

The exhibition comprises 265 photographic works, of which 4 are installations.



With the exhibition Vigovisions 1986-2000, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vigo has fulfilled its objective of reviving and historically revising photographers and contemporary movements in Galicia. From the start, the project was closely linked to the city of Vigo and had a clearly international vocation.

The Fotobienal, which was first held in 1984, was a photography exhibition organised by Vigo Council twice a year, produced and coordinated by the Centre of Photographic Studies. The programme rested on three main pillars: to recover Galicia's historical prints, to dynamise home-produced contemporary photography and to find Galicia a place in the debate on universal photography. If the first edition aimed to provide an overview of Galician photography, from 1986 it widened its scope to embrace innovation and international projection within this frame: Vigovisións (Vigovisions).

The project consisted of inviting photographers from different countries -as well as one from Galicia- to work in Vigo for a brief period of time, using the city as the production set, or the work place, to feel its influence and reflect it according to their aesthetic project.

For 16 years, Vigo enjoyed the presence of universally-renowned photographers who transformed the city into their own studio and showed us how to look at it and rediscover it through their eyes. The value of the prints made for Vigovisions transcends local boundaries, as demonstrated by the fact that they have been included in exhibitions and publications organised in other countries, as reflected in the documentary part of this exhibition.

When the Fotobienal closed, the works became part of Vigo Council's Photograph Collection which today comprises some 625 works, between photographs and installations. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Vigo carried out an important task of registering and cataloguing all of the works before selecting only those -due to limitations of space- that would be included in the show.

The exhibition Vigovisions 1986-2000 comprises 265 photographs and 4 installations, and are all characterised by an aesthetic plurality. This diversity mirrors the evolution of Vigovisions as a project: at first it began more as an event for works of a documentary nature, then with time it broadened to include other photographic concepts and experiments and to show the innovations happening in documentary photography.

In fact, one of the interests this exhibition holds is that it reflects the development of photography as a medium over recent years: from the small-scale thematic or documentary works to the larger formats of today; "expanded photography" and photographic installations. The exhibition shows very well how photography has progressively found its place in the discourses of art today.

By way of an illustration, this show brings together styles that range from the classical documentary of Cristina García Rodero and Sebastião Salgado to the more experimental works inside documentary photography of Carole Condé/Karl Beveridge and Allan Sekula; from the pinhole photography of Ruth Thorne-Thomsen to the digital prints of Pedro Meyer and Daniel Canogar; from the formal experiments of Xulio Correa and the photograms mixed with conventional images of Joan Fontcuberta, to the appropriationism of Joachim Schmid and his discarded family photographs; from the magic in everyday life of Vari Caramés to the stage settings of Ron O'Donnell; from the photographic objects of Wojciech Prazmowski to the installations of Luis González Palma, Gerardo Suter and Paloma Navares.

In the hanging of the exhibition we have aimed to be true to the photographs and, as far as possible, show them as they were first exhibited. The idea of grouping the images chronologically brings out the meaning of Vigovisións and its evolution.




    Allan Sekula
    Ana Teresa Ortega
    Antoine D’Agata
    Anxo Iglesias
    Aziz + Cucher
    Belén Gómez
    Carole Condé / Karl Beveridge
    Cristina García Rodero
    Daniel Canogar
    Gabriele Basilico
    Gerardo Suter
    Graciela Iturbide
    Guy Hersant
    Joachim Schmid
    Joan Fontcuberta
    Joel Sternfeld
    John Davies
    John Kippin
    Jorge Molder
    Jorge Rueda
    José Manuel Fors
    Julian Germain
    Karen Knorr
    Kenneth Josephson
    Koldo Chamorro
    Larry Fink
    Les Krims
    Luis González Palma
    Manfred Willmann
    Manuel Vilariño
    Marco Saroldi
    Milagros de la Torre
    Olivo Barbieri
    Paloma Navares
    Paul Den Hollander
    Paul Graham
    Paul Reas
    Pedro Meyer
    Pepe Galovart
    Ricard Terré
    Ron O’Donnell
    Ruth Thorne-Thomsen
    Sebastião Salgado
    Sue Packer
    Susan Meiselas
    Vari Caramés
    Vincenzo Castella
    Wilmar Koenig
    Wojciech Prazmowski
    Xulio Correa
    Xurxo Lobato

Curatorial text

Vigovisións: the story of a project

In 1986, the Centre of Photographic Studies started up the project Vigovisions as a part of the Fotobienal of Vigo. The task of the first edition of the Fotobienal, held in 1984, was to establish a panorama of Galicia's photographic output as this had not been done before, and to draw attention to the fact that we had a photographic past worth recovering, studying and sharing.

In the presentation of that first edition we expressed our desire to give future Fotobienals an international dimension. However, in our view, being international meant not only acquainting Galicia with the work of modern innovators or with the classics; it meant producing and receiving, and this was the spirit in which Vigovisions was conceived. In sum, it signified a project that would allow us to actively participate in the aesthetic debates going on in contemporary photography. Our desire to produce, and not only receive work, along with the importance we attached to home-produced photography, historical and contemporary, was what made the Fotobienal of Vigo different from other photography festivals that flowered during the eighties.

With this as our purpose, we invited six photographers from different countries to work in Vigo, for a week, in June 1986. The works submitted -a minimum of ten prints per artist- would pass into the property of Vigo City Council, thus creating a photograph collection: the Photograph Collection of Vigo City Council.

The fact that at that time photography occupied only a marginal place inside the art world and, as a consequence, non-commercial photography had a very low economic value enabled us to develop it within the financial possibilities available to us. Photography's economic value did subsequently change, but it would not have been possible to continue the project if it hadn't been for the positive experience of earlier editions and the collaboration of the participating photographers.

The scope of the project was not limited only to works of a documentary nature. The idea was rather to use Vigo as the artists' work place and give them the freedom to interpret it as they wished, as regards both theme and form. In this respect, our project was different to commercial assignments.

Another important element was the cultural diversity of the participants, and their aesthetic plurality. This last consideration was not common in the cultural activities programmed in Spain. We also thought it essential that a Galician photographer should figure in the group to compare his or her work to what was going on in other countries. This was a condition we maintained throughout the entire eight editions of the project.

While it is true that at first the style of the photographs was predominantly documentary, although approached from very different angles (Sebastião Salgado and Cristina García Rodero, 1988), other more conceptual formulae in the work of Paul Graham (1988) and Allan Sekula (1992) also made an appearance.

In 1994, on the occasion of the Fotobienal's tenth anniversary, we decided to give greater protagonism to Vigovisions by increasing the number of participants to nine, which enabled us to diversify the languages and concepts as this was an essential feature of our concept of the project. Of special interest was the innovative approach to the documentary of Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge, who incorporated fiction and stage sets into their work; the disposable stagings of Ron O'Donell, arranged only to be photographed; and the experiments of Joan Fontcuberta on the subject of industrial reconversion in which he contraposed negatives and photograms. All were very different to the usual concept of documentary photography.

In the following editions the proposals continued to diversify: the pinhole camara of Ruth Thorne-Thomsen; Pedro Meyer's digitally manipulated images, which was the first time this medium was seen in Vigovisions; Daniel Canogar; the appropriationist work of Joachim Schmid in which he used photographs found in the street, thereby questioning the notion of authorship; the works of Karen Knorr and Ana Teresa Ortega, who both drew from references to Galician history and literature.

Not all the works were confined to the aesthetic concept of bidimensional photography; Wojciech Prazmowski's three-dimensional photographic objects were particularly interesting, as were the installations of Luis González Palma and Paloma Navares, which made use of elements such as sand; Gerardo Suter, who used video as an important part of the work; and Belén Gómez, who reconstructed the space simulating a dark room as a replica of her own.

In our view, apart from displaying the works, an exhibition of this nature should provoke some thought on the development of the project itself and its repercussion. As the artists invited were very representative of contemporary photography, the exhibition offers a look at the evolution of photography during the years spanned by the project.

In order to understand how Vigovisions evolved, we have respected the chronology of the editions and grouped the works by artist. This strengthens the notion of authorship and contrasts the works of each edition. However, the sheer number of all them all -625- forced us to make a selection for this exhibition. The criterion we used was the photograph's significance inside the artist's oeuvre and our desire to ensure that the final selection did not distort the meaning of the work. We have tried to show the photographs as closely as possible to how they were shown when first exhibited.

The catalogue, however, does contain the entire collection of Vigovisions with small reproductions and technical details to help give a global view of the project as well as to make data available for any future study.

Many of the artists have contributed works from this project to subsequent exhibitions and publications. In some cases the works were conceived as part of a broader project they were working on or as a specific chapter in the artist's output, as was the case with Allan Sekula's Fish Story and other individual pieces like New Europe by Paul Graham and La España Oculta by Cristina García Rodero. Others, like Olivo Barbieri, Gabriele Basilico, John Davies and the Galicians Vari Caramés, Xurxo Lobato and Xulio Correa included their photographs in subsequent exhibitions.

Though external to the actual project, this repercussion is not only a source of satisfaction but it has given Vigovisions a greater dimension. It is interesting to view the works beyond the project itself, as part of each artist's oeuvre, to see how he or she subsequently regards the piece made in Vigo. As a complement to the exhibition, we have provided a selection of the publications in which the pictures have been included.


Manuel Sendón

Manuel Sendón (A Coruña, 1951), a graduate in Mathematics and a doctor in Fine Arts, he is currently a Professor at the Pontevedra Faculty of Fine Arts and the Director of the Grupo de Investigacións Fotográficas of Vigo University.

Xosé Luis Suárez Canal

Xosé Luis Suárez Canal (Allariz, Ourense, 1946), a graduate in Humanities (French Studies), a secondary school teacher and an assistant lecturer of photography at the Faculty of Journalism, Santiago de Compostela.