March 22, 2019 - Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao - Never Real / Always True
March 22, 2019

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao

Courtesy Azkuna Zentroa.

Never Real / Always True
March 14–September 22, 2019

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao
Azkuna Zentroa - Alhóndiga Bilbao
Arriquíbar Plaza, 4
48010 Bilbao

T +34 944 01 40 14
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Artists: Kurt Caviezel, Cristina de Middel, Gonzalo Elvira, Oier Etxeberria, Kiko Faxas, Joan Fontcuberta, Verónica Gerber Bicecci, Alicia Kopf, Glenda León, Valérie Mréjen, Guillem Nadal, Mabi Revuelta, Xabier Salaberria

Azkuna Zentroa –Alhondiga Bilbao presents from March 14 to September 22 2019 the exhibition Never Real / Always True curated by Iván de la Nuez.

Never real and always true. This phrase, written by Artaud in a drawing, serves as the touchstone for this exhibition on the symbiosis between art and literature. An exhibition which emblem connecting 13 different discourses which nonetheless coincide in accepting art as a literary genre and literature as a possible exhibit. A critique of treating both concepts as a closed preserve and an attempt at breaching their boundaries.

In recent decades there has been an implosion of art in literature—novels along these lines nearing saturation point—as well as a journey in the opposite direction, in which narrative is located at the centre of art, where it finds a field in which it can progress and renew itself.

Never Real / Always True is a book of books, in which the stories occur in full view and in real time. A collective process from which text becomes texture, words become an image, writing becomes a display, and oral exhibition becomes visual exhibition.

Never Real / Always True is not an exhibition of artists who "include texts" in their drawings, videos, installations, or photographs. Neither is it a collection of images that "incorporate" literature. It is not a random selection, but rather the convergence of four areas—Drawing the book, Translating the policy, Composing the scene, Transposing the stories—wherein fiction is simultaneously the focus and means to perform the works.

It is, above all, a gathering of artists who understand that books are more alive than ever today. But not, as it happens, thanks to their immobility, but rather to their mutability. Not because of their uniqueness, but because of their diversity. And not because of their possible extinction, but because of their ability to adapt.

Drawing the book: Glenda León, Gonzalo Elvira, and Verónica Gerber Bicecci
Despite being identified with stillness, books are nomadic artefacts with a proven capacity for anticipation. When they move, they move their readers. If the reader flies, it is because those books have already flown. If they give us a new language, it is because they have already plundered the dictionary. And if they enter on first sight, it is because art, on the front cover itself, has exercised its magnetic power to move us to read them.

Thus, a wake-up call, destabilization, flight…they behave like a modern version of a Greek drama; with their build-up, their climax, their dénouement. They act like guides for entering and exiting them, or like instructions for tearing out the pages.

Within this dimension, Glenda León, Gonzalo Elvira, and Verónica Gerber Bicecci disrupt our reading comfort and drag us, together with the books, to the worlds that they contain.

Translating politics: Cristina de Middel, Kiko Faxas and Oier Etxebarria
Political discourse is sound, image, a forked tongue. Always open to alternative readings, always ready to be re-written if necessary. Political power, in general terms, has always sought to convert art into agit prop, into aesthetic seasoning for its language...

But the most intelligent form of art is that which tastes its revenge when it does the opposite, i.e. when it manages to pulverize agit prop under its own rules. Thus, Cristina de Middel converts Mao’s (political) Party into the (fun) party of the current Chinese model which is expanding around the world. Hence, History will Absolve Me, Fidel Castro’s founding discourse, is translated by Kiko Faxas into musical notation to the litany of a crazed piano. Thus the Basque economic settlement [dubbed "concert" in Spanish] is transfigured by Oier Etxebarria into a linguistic score which goes in and out of tune. And so ultimately, the concert, the party, and music all become ways of pulverizing politics and an exhibition of art’s right to dissonance.

Writing the landscape: Guillem Nadal, Kurt Caviezel, and Alicia Kopf
According to Nietzsche, the best works of art are those that make themselves. When viewed in this way, the tides, volcanoes, or the erosion of a mountain would all count as art. An inconclusive aesthetic that is perfect for this very reason. Let us not forget that it was here, in a work that was "definitely unfinished," that Duchamp’s ideal lay. Guillem Nadal, Kurt Caviezel, and Alicia Kopf share this premise, albeit from different positions. They capture the art that the landscape constructs for itself, and allow its writing to find a home in their pieces, which possibly act as mere translators of this script.

Their expeditions attain a vocabulary in which the landscape also "conveys" an internal tension, an intimate voice that acts as its mirror.

Displacing stories: Valérie Mréjen, Joan Fontcuberta, and Mabi Revuelta
Where does literature end and art begin? How do you write the words of one, and how, in the manner of Artaud, do you do the drawing of the other?

In The forthcoming book, Blanchot takes the heat out of these questions and amalgamates both worlds. This answer is also explored by Marc Saporta, Lucy R. Lippard, and Enrique Vila-Matas. This twin identity defines the work and the biography of Valérie Mréjen, Joan Fontcuberta, and Mabi Revuelta.

It does not matter if the story they use is their own or someone else’s. It does not matter if their journey starts in a fairytale and ends in a film. Or if it leaps from a novel to video-art, or from a photograph to a document. Ultimately, their pieces "portray" that moment when art and literature meet and define—not so much in reality as in truth—the culture of the 21st century.

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao
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