HAPPY 2018 WORLD BOOK DAY!

Fortunately, speaking today of the World Book Day is something familiar. It is a consolidated celebration that we all look forward to. Spring and good weather come, and walks in the park and reading a book are one of the greatest pleasures in life.

Artwork by Alicia Martín in A Cidade da Cultura, Santiago de Compostela

April 23rd is a designated date. We celebrate the anniversary of the death of Cervantes, along with the birth of Shakespeare, in 1616, as well as other important milestones for universal literature. For this reason, UNESCO decided in 1995 to dedicate a day to this celebration, and since 1996 it is celebrated worldwide, although the organisation of fairs and meetings around the book are much earlier. In fact, in Spain the first book fair is recorded in 1926 during the reign of Alfonso XIII.

There are many activities ongoing on these dates. We can highlight the exhibition "Pasa pagina. An invitation to read", in the National Library Museum. It is a proposal in which visitors are invited to reflect on the role of reading and the impact on people's personal lives. What does reading mean? A tour completed with audio and visual elements, photographs and books gathered under the maxim "the more you read, the more you live". A great truth.

Paradoxically, the Madrid Book Fair (the 77th edition) is held within a month in the Retiro park, this year with Romania as the guest country. This meeting is the ideal occasion to combine different artistic disciplines where boundaries are blurred and confused, starting with the poster of the fair, made this year by the illustrator Paula Bonet, or booths dedicated to the artist book or publishers focused on mixed illustration and narrative projects.

And for those who want to get started in art with a good reading, we bring you a short list of recommendations:

“Letters to Theo” (Vincent Van Gogh): compiles the letters that Van Gogh sent to his brother Theo and are a direct testimony of the personal artistic experience of this essential author.

“Salvador Dalí: the diary of a genius” (Salvador Dalí): a personal diary to know the most hidden intimacy of this genius so often described as lunatic.

"Leonardo da Vinci. The biography", by Walter Isaacson. This writer has already addressed the biography of other great masters. On this occasion, he reviews the vital story of this renaissance figure that is still up-to-date.

"Joan Miro. The child who spoke with trees", by Josep Massot. The writer has made a profound investigation into the life of this iconic artist of the 20th century around which there is still a great ignorance.

"Guernica. The unknown masterpiece", by José María Juarranz. This book is the result of several years of research that deals with the historical, political, social and personal context that motivated the realization of this masterpiece of the 20th century.

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.