The building of shelters with rudimentary materials taken mainly from the surrounding terrain, alongside letters that ruminate on landscape, childhood, flight and guilt, love, connections with the physical medium, memory, fear, refuge… This, roughly, is the structure of [Shelter], a video creation by Lúa Coderch, which the BBVA Foundation premiered on 6 April in its MULTIVERSO space in an exhibition running until 13 May.
3 May, 2018
“[Shelter] came about partly by chance,” explains the Spanish author, born in 1982 in Iquitos (Peru) and now living and working in Barcelona. “For a few years I had been gathering information about basic models of shelters: makeshift structures that can be put together quickly to stay in overnight, making use of whatever nature offers. One day I decided to build one, and then another. I recorded the process and for each of these shelters wrote a letter that I sent to friends describing its construction and some other things that had seemed important to me at that moment. This differed from my usual way of working, in that I didn’t know beforehand what I was going to do; I simply ventured in and liked what was happening. With this material, I prepared the submission to the BBVA Foundation, and then the project became a whole big thing, because the Multiverso Grant allowed me to repeat the experience in the most varied landscapes and far flung sites: United States, Iceland, the Azores…”
[Shelter] comprises fifteen capsules of some five minutes’ duration filmed in such diverse locations as a glacial landscape, a lagoon inside a volcanic crater, a laurel forest, New York’s Central Park or Walden Pond, the setting for Walden, David Thoreau’s book that is a touchstone for lovers of a life lived in nature. In all these places, the camera details the construction of the successive shelters, which for Coderch are “an exercise in occupying space. In a context where everything is provisional, it is possible to say: ‘I am here and I am going to try to inhabit this spot, to make a place for myself.’” The letters that provide the peculiar soundtrack to the work “talk about the things that anchor our lives at times of uncertainty: love, friendship, memories and affections… [Shelter] is about that: about how we navigate and inhabit the world; it is an exercise in concretion.”
An installation that recreates the work’s transversal vision
These same coordinates are present in the display layout chosen for the Sala MULTIVERSO. “The capsules are shown successively on five screens mounted in a way that mirrors the construction of the huts, using poor, makeshift materials. Only one screen will be seen at a time: the spectator has to move around to follow the action, giving the exhibition space the same sense of passage that dominates the work, due to the shelters being so far apart,” the artist explains.
Laura Baigorri, an associate professor specializing in art and new media in the Fine Arts School at the University of Barcelona and curator of the MULTIVERSO exhibitions, remarks that “for Lúa Coderch [Shelter] is a double refuge, material but above all mental, the origin and meaning. It is the provisional space that harbors and shelters us, whether in nature or in life. The images in the videos speak of provisionality and reaction, of self-reliance, using the most basic resources – some light, like twigs and ropes, others heavy, like stones – to build ourselves a place of reference out of the essence of what we are, and get back the meaning of our lives. With the show’s installation, the artist conveys this idea of contingency by employing waste materials and remnants to create the screens. This is a work which, like life, is assembled haphazardly from what we carry on us and what we find along the way.”
The impressiveness of the natural landscapes joins with the intimate tone of the letters in a project which, says Coderch, “I put together in a very rough and ready way and lived very intensely. With other pieces I would worry if what I was doing was too cryptic or hermetic. But not with [Shelter]: the text is in the letters, the message is very direct… The main point to convey was that despite the disorientation or episodes of doubt that we all experience, in those moments when we lose grip on the general direction of our lives, we can always steer ourselves by reference to very immediate things: the people we love, the people we trust, the objects and places we care about… That is the set of things that sustains us: it is fragile, but it is also our umbilical cord, the handles that allow us to move forward.”
Lúa Coderch stresses the importance for the project of the Multiverso Grant: “It has enabled me to work in some unique and very different locations, a long way apart and hard to get to. Filming in these landscapes with a mobile crew, working intensively on an exclusive basis for several weeks, was one of the project’s costliest items, but also the one that most clearly marked a qualitative difference. And then there was the opportunity to devote a lot of time to research, the script, the editing and post-production.” [Shelter], which brings the current series to a close, will be on view to the public every day from 10:00 to 21:00 until 13 May, with free admission and no need for advance booking.
Nine exhibitions of the best video art being created in Spain
[Shelter] is the final installment in the second edition of the MULTIVERSO exhibition series, which since October 2017 has offered first-time screenings of the works funded in the 2015 edition of the Multiverso Grants for Video Art Creation (see full list in the table below). These grants form a core strand of the BBVA Foundation’s support program for one of the artistic languages most distinctly of our time. With the MULTIVERSO exhibition series, the grant scheme of the same name and the MULTIVERSO space, the BBVA Foundation has extended its wide-ranging cultural agenda – which also includes concert and lecture series – to video art creation, with the dual aim of fostering this discipline from the earliest creative stages, and encouraging public interest in it through the display of new works.
The nine projects making up the MULTIVERSO exhibition series were independently appraised by an evaluation committee who made their selection based on the artist’s track record and the originality of the proposed work. The 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, head 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.
As we write, ten authors are working on the same number of projects with funding from the 2017 Multiverso Grants for Video Art Creation. They are: Greta Alfaro Yanguas (Monster in Motion), Itziar Barrio (Drones, Failed Stars), Javier Codesal (Evangelio en Granada), Andrés Duque (Internacional con monumento), Lluis Escartín (Hasta que las nubes nos unan), Ana Esteve Reig (La pantalla mágica), María García (Tierras raras), Elena Lavellés (Roots in Route. An Atlas of Black Gold), Francisco Ruiz de Infante Ortiz de Zárate (Campos Eventuales) and Estibaliz Sádaba Murguía (LAS INCONTABLES: cuerpos (no) domesticados en espacios públicos).