A TRIBUTE TO THE DESERTED SPAIN

We embark on a journey that crosses our country from end to end, which crosses the capital as an obligatory step, as one who threads the needle and tight its ends towards the corners of our territory to die to the sea. From the coast to the nerve centre of this vast space we travel asphalt and dirt ways, paths transformed into roads that attest to the passage of time and the evolution of our history. We pass through villages that were once the cradle of the great events of a common story. We recognise the names of places we study as essential enclaves of our legacy. Others arouse rather surprise and perplexity, curious, strange and bombastic, but already devoid of a genuine sense as a population.

José Manuel Navia, La Alcarria de Cuenca, parada coche de línea en Olmedilla de Eliz, “Alma tierra”, 2019

The desolate places of a progressive and unstoppable rural exodus resist oblivion thanks to road signs and an isolated tavern that remains open to quench the thirst of the traveller. The kilometres and the time surrender to our passage and throughout the route we see a bitter reality: the depopulation affects today 80% of the territory, while the big cities attract more and more people and concentrate 80% of the entire population. The image has certain similarities with the metaphor of "The Nothing" of The Neverending Story, where the emptiness was invading the kingdom of Fantasy because children did not read or let their imagination fly, which is what feeds the stories of the fairytales. In real life, these same stories are lost in the domains of oblivion, confined in a past that seems remote and obsolete, subjugated to the impositions of progress and urban life.

José Manuel Navia, Angelines en Susín, Sobrepuerto (Huesca), “Alma tierra”, 2019

However, it should be borne in mind that the place we are in today is in debt with our villages. The evolution of events cannot be explained without a shared history marked by milestones that have taken place throughout our land. We also face a serious social problem that must respond to the need to reconquer our spaces, preserve our traditional culture and take advantage of the resources that our land offers.

With the desire to value this immense wealth, unknown and helpless, Acción Cultural Española AC/E has launched the Alma Tierra project. This photographic journey through the work of José Manuel Navia offers a wide panorama of landscapes, situations and environments where there is always room for feeling, nostalgia and hope for the future.

José Manuel Navia, Belén, ganadera del valle del Corneja (Ávila), “Alma tierra”, 2019

“These villages died so that we can live and from their misfortune comes our luck. The rich manage differently, the poor are always guilty." Luis Mateo Díez, “El espíritu del páramo”, 1996.

The project brings together a total of 158 works, gathered in a book with texts by Julio Llamazares, who explains that the initiative is "an elegy, a plea against the marginalisation of some Spaniards by the rest and a call to reflection." An exhibition in the Diputación de Huesca collects a selection of photographs and gives us some of the most poetic images of interior Spain.

 

One of the purposes of the “Art Madrid-Proyector’20” program was to offer the opportunity to get to know the work of some invited creators, and, through an interactive talk, allow the public to open a direct dialogue with them. For this reason, from February 12th to 14th, were organised three masterclasses at Medialab Prado with Patxi Araújo, Olga Diego and Lois Patiño, all authors who work with the moving image, but who approach their projects from a diametrically opposite perspective. With this agenda, we were able to discuss three essential lines of current video-creation: the fusion with technology and artificial intelligence, the shaping of performances for documentary purposes and video art with film overtones. We already had the opportunity to remember the session with Patxi Araújo and his site-specific work "Sherezade" created for the Medialab Prado façade. Today we will talk about the meeting we had with Olga Diego and Lois Patiño.

Olga diego, photo by Javier Adiego

Olga Diego’s masterclass has as title: “The flight as a creative matter”. Olga is a multidisciplinary artist who in recent years has focused her work on sculpture and performance or action art, which she later documents with photography and video. This last aspect is one of the most interesting for her when she reflects on how the transformation of the piece from an experiential format to a recorded one takes place, and how individuals have become used to consuming this class of less invasive final products, from a space of comfort that our private devices offer.

One of Olga's main lines of research is related to autonomous flight systems and the creation of artefacts capable of rising with little energy. Can one create a material lighter than air itself? This idea has led her to experiment with numerous scientific forms and concepts, as well as taking a historical journey through the beginnings of flight and the progress of humanity to invent devices capable of flying. It is not just about recovering the history of aviation, something that has a much more technological and commercial side, but to investigate the ideas, experiments and tests that analysed the behaviour of air, the dynamics of flows and the design of individual aerodynamic structures, a concern that the human being showed since the Renaissance, with Leonardo Da Vinci.

Olga Diego, photo by Mario Gutiérrez Cru

Olga recovers many of these concepts and applies them to her recent projects. In her latest proposals, she has also worked with inflatable figures, as an alternative to conducted flight, using plastic materials for its construction. Her last exhibition “The automatic garden”, which could be enjoyed at the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art and the Lonja del Pescado Exhibition Hall, also in Alicante, is a gigantic installation made up of almost a hundred inflatable-electronic sculptures inspired by the beautiful, extravagant and suggestive characters from the Garden of Earthly Delights, by El Bosco. This cloud of humanoid and zoomorphic figures, which move and beat thanks to the electronic mechanisms that keep them permanently inflated, also portrays the excesses of man, his lack of concern for the invasion of the environment, the overexposure to plastic and the exploitation of natural resources. A composition that focuses on "sin", as an indirect message that was also conveyed in the work of El Bosco.

Masterclass of Lois Patiño. Photo by Marta Suárez-Mansilla

For his part, Lois Patiño's career is intimately connected to film work. “Time and image” was the title of his masterclass. His video pieces, whether brief or feature-long films contain a concern closely linked to film language, but on a path that leaves conventional narratives aside. Among the main motifs that occupy his work, Lois opts for more contemplative aesthetics, where the expressive power of the image itself is prioritised, without seeking too many added effects in conventional cinema through sound effects, dialogues or other devices.





This is why Lois's work is so poetic and lyrical. His proposals incorporate technological innovations to cause very concrete effects in his works, but all of this helps to delve into the issues that concern this creator and that, since his beginnings, have been present in his work.

Lois Patiño, foto de Mario Gutiérrez Cru

Lois Patiño has always been interested in the relationship of the individual with the landscape and how it can modulate our way of behaving in society and determine our idiosyncrasy. To what extent are we dependent on our environment? How is culture defined by its connection to the landscape? These and other questions plague the author's work in which many contemplative images abound.

In addition, Lois presented us in scoop the trailer for his latest feature-long film "Lúa vermella" that a few days after the masterclass was officially presented at the Berlinale - International Film Festival in Berlin 2020.