The Wolf Motives invites us to reflect on the false freedom conjured by consumerist dynamics, using a format that weds the wildlife documentary genre with advertising language at its most insistent.
4 September, 2017
On concluding his major in Painting at the Fine Arts School of the University of Barcelona, Carles Congost chose as his end-of-degree project not a painting or series, but a video. “The play of sound, text, music and moving image seemed a natural way to frame my aesthetic concerns,” he recalls, “closer to the look and feel of pop music, film, fashion and television than the history of art.”
Thus began an enterprise that brought him two decades later to The Wolf Motives/Los motivos del lobo, the video the BBVA Foundation will present on 8 September in its MULTIVERSO Space, where it will be screened uninterruptedly every day between 10:00 and 21.00 until the 8th of next month. every day between 10:00 and 21.00 until the 8th of next month.
This is the fourth instalment in the MULTIVERSO exhibition series launched by the BBVA Foundation on May 12 this year in the room of the same name, located in its Madrid headquarters in the Marqués de Salamanca Palace. Preceding it in the series were Expediente: Túnel de la Engaña by Txuspo Poyo; PIRI REIS. La continuación de un mito by Rosana Antolí; and Sincronías 2016, by Marc Larré. The MULTIVERSO Space will next host MATER AMATÍSIMA by María Ruido, followed by El accidente de Vollard by Pedro Luis Cembranos; La España profunda by Isaías Griñolo; Global Windshield, The Musical by Momu & No Es; and [Shelter] by Lúa Coderch (see calendar at the end of this press release). All products of the second edition of the BBVA Foundation’s MULTIVERSO Grants for Video Art Creation.
Transgression as a consumer product
With The Wolf Motives, Congost has revisited an old script that he could finally produce thanks to a MULTIVERSO Grant. Its subject is one he has returned to frequently in his career: the crises and contradictions of the adolescent universe. “The video’s core theme is the false sense of freedom felt by many young people immersed in the consumerist dynamics of the first world. For years, the big brands and corporations who create these dynamics have been training their sights on the youngest publics, and the huge market share at their command. And these corporate forces are prepared not only to overlook young people’s transgressions, but to actually repackage them as attractive consumer products,” the author argues. “At the height of their own socialization, teenagers use brands as models of conduct and also as tools with which to forge their identify in the eyes of others. The video offers a simple but effective fiction comparing piercings, those body modifications expressive of urban culture, with the tracking chips used by scientists to gather data on wildlife species in order to learn the where, when and, finally, why of their habits and customs.”
The narrative is underpinned by a production style that “references the wildlife documentary genre – assigning animal traits to a community of young people progressing through a wood in the middle of the night – and advertising language at its most insistent,” in order to “incorporate fresh, unsuspected viewpoints and insights.”
Congost relates how thanks to the MULTIVERSO Grant “I have been able to fulfill my wish of undertaking projects with an increasingly complex filmic language, better planned and, definitively, more akin to cinema. It is clear that projects of this kind can be very costly and it is not always possible to get them started at what you consider the most opportune moment: the fact of receiving one of these grants has been truly decisive.”
Laura Baigorri, exhibition curator and an associate professor specializing in art and new media in the Fine Arts School at the University of Barcelona, remarks that with The Wolf Motives Carles Congost “ventures into the dark and tangled forest of adolescents on the brink of young adulthood, this time to question the consumerist manipulation practiced around their signs of identity. We should not be misled by the compelling aesthetic of its scenes and characters, for here, as in almost all his works, the author introduces a Trojan horse in his fictional critique: the aseptic, incisive ‘mise en scène’ comes with a high-resolution quality and impeccable finish that turns the video itself into a “premium advertising product”; that is, the very object of its censure. Because all sweet things leave a bitter aftertaste.”
MULTIVERSO: a dedicated video exhibition space in Madrid’s ‘Art Walk’
The MULTIVERSO Space within the BBVA Foundation’s Madrid headquarters is now an established venue along Madrid’s Paseo del Arte (‘Art Walk’). The Marqués de Salamanca Palace, where it is housed, stands on the axis formed by such landmark institutions as the Museo Reina Sofía, Museo del Prado, National Library and National Archeological Museum, and its program, given over to the most innovative video art, enlarges and enriches the zone’s already abundant cultural offering.
With the MULTIVERSO Exhibition, the grant scheme of the same name and the MULTIVERSO Space, the BBVA Foundation has expanded its focus to video art creation, with the dual aim of fostering the development of a language that is 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 nine projects featured in the MULTIVERSO Exhibition were independently appraised by an evaluation committee who made their selection based on the artist’s track record and the originality of the submitted project. 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.
The awardee projects, in the opinion of Laura Baigorri, have materialized into “rich, thoughtful pieces of considerable aesthetic and conceptual complexity,” because the MULTIVERSO grants have given their authors “the time and resources to delve deep in their research, plan ahead, travel to the locations where they wanted to shoot, and employ the most sophisticated production techniques.”