The Green Parrot is a non-profit space dedicated to contemporary art practices that opened in April 2014. From our office window we can hear the screams of the Quaker parrots, a species from Argentina that has adapted very well to the Mediterranean climate and lives together with other local birds since more than a decade. It is a colourful element that contrasts with the local fauna of pigeons, doves and sparrows. These green parrots reinforce Barcelona’s pseudo-tropical image, that of a holiday destination that brings each year more than seven million tourists looking for sun and party. The huge cruise boats that dock every week in the port are the same as those from the Caribbean. We also have a corrupted government and our local identity is disappearing in favour of a flattened global souvenir. So yes, we can say that Barcelona has got some of the characteristics of a tropical enclave. We are closer to what is known to be the global south than anything that happens culturally beyond the Pyrenees. At The Green Parrot, we try to give a hint of colour to the gloomy moment we are living in, and we want to get out of the precariousness of the system through celebration. Similar to what the Argentinian parrot did, we have to adapt to certain conditions through other economies and other ways of doing, linked to generosity and to a close relation with the artists, the audience and a critical discourse.
The selection for the Alternative Art Guide comes from three artists that have been or will be related to The Green Parrot by taking part in our exhibitions or in any of our activities. Their work looks critically at our present state of affairs, not by direct complaint but through a reflection on our local historical memory, especially through the space of the city and its architecture.
The first exhibition hosted at The Green Parrot was called The World of Interiors, referring to an artist book by Marc Camille Chaimowicz in which the well-known bourgeois interiors magazine had been intervened with images that referred to issues of gender and class. We used the name to reflect on the former domestic space and to ironically relate art with decoration. For this show, Lúa Coderch created a series of curtains that changed the perspective of the interior and exterior of the space. Its geometrical pattern reflected on a series of photographs that had lately appeared on the press that depicted oligarchs, football players and millionaire’s interiors, often being vandalised or abandoned after a scandal. We also produced a limited edition made of cushions and chairs with the same fabric.
Lúa Coderch recently exhibited at the Miró Foundation The Magic Mountain. Her work was a narrative in 72 chapters, extended along the 72 days of the exhibition around the idea of historical present, and on the tyranny of constantly having to define your expectations. She reflected on the location of the Foundation, the Montjuïch mountain, a very touristic enclave and a never-ending resource to produce discourse and imaginary: it is where the 1992 Olympics took place and the International Exhibition of 1929, where the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion was installed. The inflatable Onix Wall is a real size replica of one of the walls in the German Pavilion. Its malleability conceptualises the relativity of the notions of time.
Domènec is an artist that looks at Modern architecture as one of the most productive but also complex imaginary constructions. For his whole career, he has looked at numerous examples of spaces and interrogating its social conditions. In one of his recent projects Spanish Architecture, 1939-1975 (2014), he offers us a catalogue of some of the public works made with the sweat and blood of Republican prisoners. After the Spanish Civil war hundreds of thousands of Republican prisoners were sentenced to force labour. Numerous public infrastructures and government buildings, from the Guadalquivir Canal to the sinister Valle de los Caídos, were built by the State or by private companies employing this cheap workforce.
In the mid 19th century the French philosopher and utopian socialist Étienne Cabet put forward his ideas in Voyage en Icarie, a novel inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia, which envisaged a future fair and just society in which there would be no property or money. The Icaria project achieved wide acclaim among the working class in Catalonia; and one of its most renowned followers was Narcís Monturiol who hailed from the town of Figueres in the north of Catalonia. In 1848 following a call by Cabet, a group of adventurers, which included a number of Catalans, set sail for Texas with the aim of building their own Icaria; alas this ephemeral adventure turned out to be a tragic failure. The installation was set in Figueres’ public space, close to the monument dedicated to Narcís Monturiol.
Plácido (a film made in 1961, mainly shot in Manresa, considered to be one of the best films of the Spanish director Luis G. Berlanga). The tricycle would be turned into a mobile “commemorative monument”, an ironic device and a capsule of critical memory. Plácido’s Motocarro could be used in many forms and be the catalyst for different events. As a small, mobile multimedia display, the support for an open-air video projector, or it could use its loudspeakers to communicate and spread the activities of different collectives.
Oriol Vilanova goes to the fleamarket each Sunday, no matter in which city he is, to complete his collection of postcards. He is also an architect. For the residency at the Palais de Tokyo he developed the project Ex Aequo (2012), looking at the Soviet and Nazi pavilion from the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. Both pavilions represented two different ideologies but their image did not differ that much. Next to them, and with much less resonance, there was the Spanish Republican Pavilion, a beautiful and modest piece of Modern architecture by Josep Lluís Sert that held for the first time Picasso’s Guernika.
Entreacte (2013) composes a para-theatrical space, a wall that crosses the room of the Espai 13 at the Miró Foundation and divides the space in two. It is an ambiguous installation that calls attention but also rejects the audience. It alludes to the Modern architecture of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion or the same Miró Foundation but its color turns it deliberately spectacular.
Last Price (2014). A displacement of dynamics: a performance that erases the museum’s entrance fixed price in order to promote bargaining. It is about opening a new space for negotiation, with other times, other laws and certain theatricality between buyer and seller. A characteristic of Mediterranean culture that, although not visible, persists in the higher spheres of politics. The performance is executed between MACBA’s staff and the visitors.
Deuteranomaly (2014). A beige monochrome that colonizes the access to the exhibition. The intervention reflects on the continuity of the stereotypes and the role of fiction in the writing of history. The Spanish painter Marià Fortuny (Catalonia, 1838 – Roma, 1874) painted the famous Tetuan Battle (1863-1865) thinking on a very arid scenario, when in reality it was a very green landscape. But then nobody would have believed it was Africa.
Rosa Lleó is an independent art critic and curator. Since April 2014, she runs, together with João Laia, the independent art space The Green Parrot in Barcelona. She holds a Degree in Humanities by the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and a MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths, London. While in the UK, she was a founder member of the curatorial platform Impress and she collaborated as researcher and editorial assistant for Afterall. In 2013 she participated in the Curatorlab research programme at Konstfack University, Stockholm. She worked for several years at the publishing company Actar. She has curated exhibitions such as Cas d’estudi (Can Felipa, Barcelona, 2013), Everything is Out There (La Casa Encendida, Madrid, 2010), A Fine Red Line, Live! (176 Project Space, London, 2009) and Aspen 11 (Neue Alte Brücke Galerie, Frankfurt, 2009). She regularly writes for Cultura/s –La Vanguardia’s cultural supplement– A*Desk, and occasionally for Afterall Online, Art-Agenda, among others.
The Green Parrot hosts a programme of four projects per year and a series of other items derived from each show such as The Green Parrot Readers: a series of critical texts in the form of small publications that generate a critical research beyond the works of the exhibition. The Green Parrot Cabinet: an exhibition space on a book cabinet that every three months invites an artist or an expert on publications to commission a project, and The Green Parrot Editions, a commissioned limited edition that expands each exhibition and contributes to the financing of the space.