An abandoned railway tunnel – in its day the longest in Spain, connecting Burgos and Cantabria – the testimonies of political prisoners who working on the building of that never-to-be-used infrastructure, an elephant advancing through the ruined remains of the adjacent workings into the hole gouged out of the mountain, an infrared camera, drones, poems by Seamus Heaney (Digging) and T. S. Elliot (The Hollow Men) at each of the tunnel’s extremes… These are just some of the elements of Expediente: Túnel de la Engaña, the piece by Txuspo Poyo with which the BBVA Foundation kicked off an exhibition series devoted to the works created under its second grant call in video art creation.
3 April, 2018
This art form distinctly of our time finds a home in the BBVA Foundation’s MULTIVERSO space, located in its Madrid headquarters in the Marqués de Salamanca Palace, with an exhibition program running until May 2018.
The Foundation’s offering in this area of the creative arts goes under the name of MULTIVERSO, an umbrella concept referring equally to the physical space, the exhibition series and the annual grant scheme for video art creators.
MULTIVERSO 2017/2018 kickED off last Thursday, May 11, 2017 with a video installation by Txuspo Poyo, opened to the public, with free admission, from May 12 to June 11.
Txuspo Poyo (Alsasua, Navarra, 1963) received funding for the creation of this artwork under the second edition of the BBVA Foundation MULTIVERSO Grants for Video Art Creation. Poyo, a fine arts graduate from the University of the Basque Country who continued his training in New York under the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISPC) and at the Center for Advanced Digital Applications of New York University, has shown his work in Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, the United States and Brazil in centers like the Museo Artium in Vitoria, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Reina Sofía in Madrid or the Artists Space in New York.
His output, he says, is characterized by “narratives that draw their tension from interconnected images, weaves in which unfinished historical remnants converge with fragments of the cultural imaginary, both individual and collective, lifted from history, film, architecture and science fiction.” It is in this creative universe that we locate Expediente: Túnel de la Engaña. The artist says of this work: “The tunnel is a deep hole in the body of history, the inside of a belly emptied of its organs, a cave, a dark abyss, a wound, but also the door that leads us to the unknown and an entrance to advance beyond, despite the warning.”
For Laura Baigorri, a professor specializing in art and new media in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona and the exhibition’s curator, this exhibit “finds its most powerful audiovisual expression through the medium of the installation, and gives a subtle and exquisite plastic treatment to what is a deeply political subject. The result is a piece of great beauty, poetic and metaphorical, which has at its core a political critique at once devastating and nostalgic.”
A new space to win over new publics
The MULTIVERSO exhibition program will offer the first public viewing of works selected in the second edition of the MULTIVERSO Grants for Video Art Creation. With these grants, the BBVA Foundation provides funding to artists with a proven creative track record, enabling them to undertake mature, complex projects that might otherwise only be possible in the longer term.
The Foundation, which already runs a highly regarded contemporary music program, expanded its focus to video creation in the year 2014 with the dual aim of fostering the development of a language that is both distinctly of our time and expressive of today’s culture, and encouraging public interest in this artistic discipline through the show of new works.
The MULTIVERSO series will run all year in the Marqués de Salamanca Palace, Madrid headquarters of the BBVA Foundation, with the nine projects selected successively on display for periods of around one month. Expediente: Túnel de la Engaña (Txuspo Poyo) will be followed by video artworks by Rosana Antolí, Marc Larré, Carles Congost, María Ruido, Pedro Luis Cembranos, Isaías Griñolo, Lucía Moreno and Lúa Coderch (see details below).
Laura Baigorri remarks on the importance of having a permanent space for video art, with a changing selection of high-quality works and free public admission. “Exhibition spaces given over wholly to video creation are very unusual outside of the official institutional circuit, and even then are few and far between. In Spain, there have been occasional experiments, usually promoted by independent collectives or, less often, by the cultural projects arm of some private institution. However, the impact they have had in attracting and maintaining a viewing public is undeniable. The public at large tends to be unaware of this artistic practice, despite its importance in contemporary art, and the BBVA Foundation’s initiative in setting up a permanent, open exhibition program will give this demonstrable interest a space to manifest itself and grow.”
A varied offering, of considerable aesthetic and conceptual complexity
From among the numerous artists submitting entries in the grant call, an evaluation committee independently selected the nine pieces making up this series, based on the authors’ innovation record and the originality of their project. The evaluation committee was formed by Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes, Director of the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo; Eugeni Bonet, artist and exhibition curator; Javier Díaz-Guardiola, coordinator of the Art, Architecture and Design sections of supplement ABC Cultural; Nuria Enguita, exhibition curator; Chus Martínez Pérez, director of the Art Institute of the Academy of Arts and Design, Basel; Mariano Navarro, critic for El Cultural; María Pallier, director of the arts program Metrópolis, TVE; Blanca de la Torre, exhibition curator and art historian; and Elena Vozmediano, art critic for El Cultural.
The projects selected have grown into “rich, thoughtful pieces of considerable aesthetic and conceptual complexity,” says Laura Baigorri, which show the influence of the MULTIVERSO grants, in that “the artists have had the time and resources to delve deep in their research, to plan ahead, to travel to the locations where they wanted to shoot, and to create sophisticated end products.”
Those making repeat visits to MULTIVERSO will encounter “a representative selection of the multiplicity of projects, forms and subject matters that populate the video art multiverse,” Baigorri continues. The genres touched on in the present series include documentary, conceptual essay, two musicals, a work of fiction and a digital abstraction. The critical approach dominates, with themes as of-the-moment as current news (Marc Larré), a generational portrait of the alienating dynamics of capitalism (Carles Congost), the recent history of Spain through its architectural endeavors (Txuspo Poyo) and monuments (Isaías Griñolo), the history and conquest of indigenous territory (Rosana Antolí), new models of family and motherhood (María Ruido), art history research (Pedro Luis Cembranos), an interrogation of our relationship with technocratic culture (Lucía Moreno), and a meditation on life through landscape (Lúa Coderch).
The MULTIVERSO exhibition series is in this respect a one-off, as the curator explains: “As a rule, video artworks can only be seen as part of art center collections or at temporary gallery shows, so to be able to enjoy regular viewings of unreleased, cutting-edge works in this discipline is a truly exceptional opportunity.”
The MULTIVERSO space will host both exhibits by BBVA Foundation grant holders and specially commissioned works, as in the case of Different Trains, Beatriz Caravaggio’s video based on the work of that name by composer Steve Reich. This piece is currently on show at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao, the inaugural event of a partnership initiative between our two organizations in what is now a focus area for the Foundation.