studie- en oriëntartiereis Portugal en Spanje
2022 10
Esther van Rosmalen nam deel aan de jaarlijkse studie- en oriëntatiereis, die het Mondriaan Fonds organiseerde, voor beeldend kunstenaars, curatoren en beschouwers op het gebied van beeldende kunst naar buitenlandse regio’s die interessante ontdekkingskansen bieden. Het primaire doel van de reis was een overzicht te geven van de hedendaagse beeldende kunst in de desbetreffende landen.

Day 2 Gallery Nuno Centeno
At the Rua Da Alegria 598, the highest part of the city, is the Gallery Nuno Centeno situated. The extremely large and iconic building dates from 1939, originally founded by stoneworkers. From this place most of the stones were cut to build Porto. About five years ago Nuno Centeno transformed this building into a venue where the contemporary art in Porto could flourish by means of an international program for emerging artists. Mauro Cerqueira, whom we met yesterday, is one of the first artists Nuno worked with, and has a show in the gallery. Mauro’s work is about telling the story of the city by collecting all sort of objects to be found in the street where his studio and art space is. These items like mobile phones, chains, mirrors, padlocks, and jewelry are melted on a black surface, a cheap isolation material that represent the disillusion of oil paint.
Porto was not an easy city, it was before a ghost town, no one dares to come. But now it is transforming, also thanks to persons like Philippe Vergne of the Serralves and Pargue de Serralves and Filipa Ramos of the Municipal do Porto, the venues we visited earlier today. About 15 years ago Nuno set his first steps into the gallery world. After studying art in Brazil he came back to Porto, and noticed that he actually want to bring people together.
His gallery can host several shows at the same time, which can be regarded as a form of interaction. At this moment he is 100% self-supporting and has the perspective to rent the place for at least 25 years. He sees the future brightly and continues to move forward. After a long journey in which he participated at almost every major art fair it all stopped because of the pandemic. After that he looks from Porto to the world and receives an increasing audience at his venue which makes it much more easy.
Day 10 The MACBA
This morning it is time to discover Barcelona, the city where we arrived the evening before. We started today reasonably early at 9 AM with a visit at MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. This day the venue is closed for visitors and preparing for the opening of a new exhibition about the Colombian artist Maria Teresa Hincapié: If This Were a Beginning of Infinity. It is the first exhibition dedicated to the artists practice of ‘the poetics of everyday life’ in the way of transforming routine actions into symbolic acts.

The building consists of three floors, to be encountered by walking an enormous construction, best to be described as a staircase without steps which makes this very available for invalids, that leads us past the front made of glass that connects the outside with the inside. However, the surroundings are mostly new there are still some traces to be found of the modest apartments that surround the square. The exhibition spaces are used for temporarily exhibitions except the ground floor where the collection of the museum is shown.

Because the museum changed its focus it is time to analyse the rich collection and put it in a different perspective and other ways of display to be seen in December and curated by the new director Elvira. The collection of the museum is mainly to be described as post war, with a strong focus on the contemporary arts from the 60’s when a real paradigm shift in the arts took place and the collection intensified. It contains works of artists from all over the world, with a special attention for artists from Latin America, the Arabic world, and the middle east.
To understand the way of collecting it is relevant to know some more of the structure. The main partners of the museum are the city council, the region and Madrid (national funding) that covers the cost for the organization. There is also a part of private support by the MACBA foundation, their role is fundraising for acquisition of the collection. The foundation purchases the art and lend it to MACBA who puts it on display and is responsible for the care like maintenance and storage. For purchasing new works of art, they operate with an advisory committee. Curators have to propose the works that are relevant for the collection and have to defend their choices. It is a long process of decision-making before actually buying the works or accepting donations because they have to through the same system. So, the MACBA is in that way not very agile and have to deal with some frustration that can arise about the choices the museum has to make.

In 2007 MACBA started the Program for Independent Studies named PEI. It is meant for generalizing knowledge and critical thinking in the arts, politics, and social field so the program is also meant for participants without an explicit artistic practice. Capitalism has reduced art to a structure of aesthetics’ for which these studies give a counterbalance which also includes conferences and open seminars for a broader audience where a mix-up can be found of artists, curators, and students because new generations also bring a different view.

The program is best to described as a master program with a time investment of approximately two years. The main objective is to develop critical and analytic skills. A lot of the students, there is place for 40 persons, are from Latin America because the main language is Spanish, who receive a certificate afterwards.
We already were aware of the fact that Catalunya is not a regular part of Spain, something that is obvious by the flags that hang in the whole city centre that underline the sentiments of a possible separation. Huiwai also mentions how politics also affect them, like language is an issue. The museum gives information in three languages: Catalonian, Spanish and English, but when it comes to subtitles, they have to make a choice which is not always easy. That also is a question of the story they want to tell in their exhibition program because they support the part where it is about heritage but if it comes to supporting nationalism it is not without danger so there are some subtle borders not to be crossed.

As for the staff of the museum, there have been a lot of recent changes in the organization. Because of an unhappy situation in 2015 about a work with a complex meaning, a scenario of censorship occurred.

Eventually it did not take place, but the debacle led to some consternation and the dismissal of some members of the staff including the director so, there is a gap between the former and new director. Other changes for the better in the organization is the function of a director of curatorial research, Maria Berrios, who will be connecting all the content of the different departments which is a good thing because everybody is too much entangled in their own projects. Intern communications is one of the most difficult issues in an organization so you can say that Maria will be curating the curators. Talks about ethics and care also get a discourse in thinking about the possible museum. How can subjects as that also be practiced in for example a formality like the contract between artist and museum which is in fact an agreement between people. How can this be more humane but not in conflict with the legal aspects of an agreement? For that kind of issues, they have been forming workgroups to think about how to make things more manageable and be prepared for the future.

We end our visit with a preview of the exhibition of Maria Teresa Hincapié, which will be open to the public tomorrow evening for which we are all invited. Maria Teresa as being a Colombian artist is not well known in Europe and passed away in 2008. The exhibition is curated by Claudia Segura, who we meet before entering and still busy with the last things before receiving the press.

The exhibition is partly based on archive material of Maria Teresa who started in the theatre and became a key figure in long duration performance. Her topics are at first sight simple, based on the fact of being a woman she brings a specific female perspective on daily life which also includes the prejudices women have to deal with, but she builds her performance around a strong feeling of dedication and convincement in a most inspiring way.
In the first part of the exhibition the central peace is the registration of a performance she did in 1990 that is called One Thing is One Thing. The film shows how she accurately laid out the content of boxes and bags she brought from home and methodically arranges on the floor in rectangular spirals. She orderly laid out typical homely items varied from clothes, potatoes, pots and pans, lipstick, and matches. All arranged on colour and shape of which there also was a remake laid out on the floor so the idea of how the performance was conducted became more tangible. The exhibitions aim was not to give a chronological insight in Maria Teresa practice, it deserves more than that so four artists, José Alejandra Restrepo, Coco Fusco, Maria José Arjona and Mara Teatro. They were invited to react to her legacy and create new works that reveals how much the spirit of her fascinating oeuvre is still alive today. The exhibition also focuses on other aspects of her life and work like for example the School-Village she set up in 1996 by buying a plot of land in the vicinity of Quabrada Valencia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It was supposed to be her most ambitious project and meant as an escape from the city life to develop a place and residence for those who are searching for the development of artistic ideas by means of meditation and shared philosophy. Unfortunately, before she could see this project named La Fruta succeed, she was outrun by an illness which led eventually to her early death. Her son Santiago Zuluaga continues his mother’s ideals and legacy as mentioned in the caption with also an invitation to anyone who wishes to collaborate by sending an e-mail to

foto: David Maroto
foto: David Maroto

foto: David Maroto
foto: David Maroto
  • tekst
    Naar kunst kijken en over kunst lezen, altijd is er taal. Om te kunnen spreken over de kunst, om erover te kunnen denken. Étoile du Nord schrijft voor en over kunstenaars, met organisaties en instellingen. Om het oeuvre te kennen, nu en voor toekomst. Om te weten wat moet gebeuren bij organisaties.
  • mentor
    Ieder talent verdient een mentor, om verder te komen, om in wisselwerking een betekenisvolle relatie aan te gaan. Étoile du Nord werkt met kunstenaars die zich karakteristiek willen positioneren in een relevant netwerk. Kunstenaars die kritisch willen argumenteren over hun werk. Kunstenaars reflecteren in de verschillende werkvormen die Étoile du Nord aanbiedt.
  • productie
    Beeldende kunst wordt gezien in tentoonstellingen, op internet en in andere publieke ruimten. Door die confrontatie is de kunst rijker aan betekenis. Étoile du Nord produceert publieke presentaties en heeft meer dan drie decennia ervaring. Solo's en museale groepsexposities, intieme tentoonstellingen in huiskamers en grootste beurzen in gashouders. Van plan tot realisatie, dat is het werk van Étoile du Nord.
  • bestuur
    Als het er is, wordt het vanzelfsprekend dat het er kwam. Maar elke expositie of manifestatie of publicatie is gemaakt, in samenwerkingen van instellingen en door betrokkenheid van mensen. Étoile du Nord is zich bewust van de noodzaak tot organisatie en draagt daaraan bij, zo nodig belangeloos. Altijd met gevoel voor resultaat.
  • vrije val
    Laat er kunst zijn en laat er taal zijn. Het werk van Étoile du Nord wordt gemotiveerd door de eigen artistieke praktijk. Het creëren van autonome beelden én het schrijven van vrije tekst is de beste uitgangspositie voor advies en organisatie. Étoile du Nord is verweven met het picturale en het dramatische.