Following the invitation of Sant Marc, I have selected three artists who question the current status of images in the context of a region that confronts its contradictory identity.
If, as Sherrie Levine once stated, “the world is filled to suffocating” with images, it is a daunting task for an artist to add anything to the intense flow of visual stimuli to which we are exposed every day. On the one hand, it seems that the only possible solution is to re-use existing images and divert their meaning; on the other, the overabundance of photographic images and the way in which photography has become a commonplace method for expressing oneself visually or even keeping notes, lead to re-think what photography is about. Every image, in a sense, becomes an afterimage, as it incorporates reminiscences of other images, in different contexts and meanings.
On the sunny, touristic island of Mallorca it is quite common to experience an afterimage as a result from exposing our eyes to the sunlight. The island itself is paradoxically connected to ghost images of paradisiac retreats and limitless enjoyment, while it struggles to find an image of its own identity. The art scene is also trying to define itself in the context of an island that is connected (both willing and unwillingly) to the world: there is an uncommon merging between the local and international, the alternative and mainstream in art galleries, museums and cultural spaces. Local artists have found over the last decade a large number of spaces and initiatives to show their work in Mallorca, yet with few chances of exhibiting abroad. Some have been “blinded by the light” of their local experience, others are moving towards an international context.
Participating in the local art scene but also connected to a wider, global network, the selected artists question the current status of images from different perspectives. The afterimages in their work refer to a closer examination of our visual culture and invite us to look rather than just see.
Arantxa Boyero (Mallorca, 1982) works with photography as a means of exploring her own self and the way in which women are portrayed in the media. Her photographs and videos seem casual, or whimsical even, but respond to a deliberate construction of the image. Intimacy is a key aspect of her work, in which she usually presents herself or her friends in snapshots of their private lives. Playfully switching between reality and fiction, she frames the image in unusual ways and has her models perform slightly or overtly strange actions. In this manner, Boyero creates constant contradictions in her images, which may seem trivial but contain a carefully staged narrative.
Javier Siquier (Mallorca, 1983) examines the invasion of images and messages in the urban landscape by using photography and graphic design. His transdisciplinary approach allows him to move beyond frames and feel at home both in the white cube of the gallery as in the public space. He subverts the codes of each context by assigning new functions to different elements: casual scratches on the walls are documented as part of an artistic intervention, graffiti paintings are re-framed or intervened, large signs are inserted into the gallery and thus become part of the exhibition. There is more to his work than urban art: he creates new spaces for our gaze and explores the city as an image.
(Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1967) re-composes the invasive media sphere into a series of collages that disrupt the original message and reveal an underlying truth. His work is consciously eclectic, irreverent and satirical, a clear reflection of the distorted form in which society represents itself in the media. Pop culture is one of his main inspirations, yet not simply to insert it into the context of “high art”, but rather to make clear that our culture is shaped by its images. Confronted with the saturation of visual stimuli in our daily lives, Vidal has chosen to decompose the messages into discrete pieces (literally) and create new compositions that the eye cannot ignore.
Sant Marc was founded by Marcos Vidal in Sineu November 1999 as a space for ideas and research in the field of art. The experience of participating in many international meetings and exhibitions inspired Vidal to promote translocal connections between local and foreing artists in workshops, residencies, conferences and group exhibitions. Since 2002, Sant Marc has organized exhibitions in Mallorca and collaborated with the Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation and the Incart festival, as well as the Artists Association of the Balearic Islands. Sant Marc is now increasingly participating in international initiatives, such as the Water Tower Fest (Sofia, Bulgaria), Supermarket Art Fair (Stockholm, Sweden) and Artists’ Initiatives Meetings (a network group from across Europe). In April 2013, it organized the Mallorca Translocal Meeting, which took place at the Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation and in Can Gelabert (Mallorca), with the participation of artists from The Netherlands, UK, Armenia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Spain. Sant Marc is linked to the following organizations: Hilvaria Studio Tilburg (NL), Moorland Productions Leeds-London (UK), IME ngo – Water Tower Art Fest (BG), Acoss residency program (AM), Supermarket Art Fair (SE), Microwesten Berlin (DE), MUU gallery (FI), iRoom space Barcelona (ES), Inquietart Incart festival (ES), VB magazine (ES).
For the Alternative Art Guide, Sant Marc has invited Pau Waelder as guest curator. PhD Candidate and Lecturer at the Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona), he is an independent art critic, curator and researcher whose work focuses on contemporary and new media art.