June 11, 2019 - Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao - International symposium on curating: The Papers of the Exhibition (1977–2017)
June 11, 2019

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao

Courtesy Azkuna Zentroa.

International symposium on curating: The Papers of the Exhibition (1977–2017)
July 9–10, 2019

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

T +34 944 01 40 14

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The Papers of the Exhibition (1977–2017) is a collaborative project between Bulegoa z/b and Azkuna Zentroa which aims to study certain exhibitions that took place between 1977 and 2017. To that end, different international encounters will take place, each one focused on a particular decade. There have been two such encounters thus far: the first in Prologue format and the second one devoted to the decade from 1977–87. At the 2019 event, which will take place on July 9 and 10, cases from the decade between 1987–97 will be examined.

Two dates limit a four decade period in The Papers of the Exhibition. On the one hand, 2017, a year which, to these effects, is "today." And on the other, 1977, a hinge year which, quoting Franco "Bifo" Berardi, refers to a time "after the future," marked by the full advent of post-industrial society and exhaustion of modernity. The equidistant year between 1977 and 2017 is especially noteworthy in the Basque context, since 1997 was the year the Guggenheim Bilbao museum was opened, leading to a new city model. The opening of this museum is also presented as a symptom and consequence of profound cultural, economic, political and social transformations on a global level, determining the panorama of where we are right now.

The title El ensayo de la exposición (The Papers of the Exhibition) includes two cultural forms in an apparently ambiguous relationship. On the one hand, we have the "ensayo" (trial), a term referring to a testing out, an experimental process; whereas on the other hand, "ensayo" (essay) can be understood as a reflexive or discursive text. Opposite the ambiguity of the polysemous term "ensayo," the exhibition appears a stable univocal form. Although it has undergone changes and transformations throughout its history, the exhibition is still substantially the same well-defined reality, a public display of artworks in a specific space and time. Thus, The Papers of the Exhibition alludes to an exhibition which is a text, a discursive artefact, a trial, and an experimental process. It also refers to other texts which are not part of the exhibition but separate from the same, yet in some way are both related to and condition it.

Following on this form, The Papers of the Exhibition proposes linking a series of texts with specific exhibitions between 1977 and 2017. Its aim is to take a retrospective glance at exhibitions, texts and events from the recent past, but which still resonate today and help us understand the current moment.

The decade from 1987–97 marked the beginning of a series of changes that would impact successive decades: the geopolitical reorganisation following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent proclamation of the end of ideologies; the acceleration of globalisation; the AIDS crisis; etc. The art world was not impervious to these changes.

In the late eighties what was known as the contemporary art boom began. The market value of living artists’ work rose; contemporary art museums, biennales and large exhibitions proliferated all over the world. Another phenomenon that came with the boom was that museums and art institutions took on a central role in shaping a new financial model for cities as focal points for tourism.

The decade begins in the local context of the Basque Country with the inauguration of Arteleku in 1987 in San Sebastian and ends in 1997 with the opening of the Guggenheim Bilbao, a museum that would herald a new model of the global city as a pole of attraction for tourism and cultural consumption.


July 9
5pm: Presentation
5:30pm: Aimar Arriola: "See (bad) in the distance: revisiting the HIV/AIDS crisis"
6:30pm: Rachel Weiss: "Regional Globalism: How the Havana Biennial Reframed the Debate" 
7:30pm: Joaquín Vázquez: "El sueño imperativo and Plus Ultra. Artistic Practices and Political Correlations Around 1992"
8:30pm: Debate

July 10
11am–2pm: Papers
5pm: Presentation
5:30pm: Ines Schaber: "Urban Interventions (1994)"
6:30pm: Corinne Diserens: "PUENTE de… pasaje (Bilbao), a quarter of a century later."
7:30pm: Catherine David: conversation with the curator of documenta X (1997)
8:30pm: Debate

Azkuna Zentroa – Alhóndiga Bilbao
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