WHAT DOES ART HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE WORK DAY?

Our life is mostly marked by the time dedicated to work. Much of what we are and others see, is linked to our profession. Art is no apart to this phenomenon, and in fact, some artistic movements are to some extent indebted to the influence that technological advances in work have established in production processes and large factories. As a kind of second industrial revolution, the innovation of the production guidelines and the modernisation of the machinery, as well as the professional specialisation, have generated a work culture today almost inseparable from the idea of an advanced and up-to-date society.

Frame from the film "Modern Times", by Charles Chaplin

The impact of these changes on production processes appears in the arts. We all know the parody of the assembly line that Charles Chaplin made in his film "Modern Times" (1936). Although the context of this film is the crisis that emerged after the Great Depression, the adverse working conditions of the personnel of the large factories reflected in the movie can be extrapolated to any other place in the world. A paradox poses between the inclusion of machinery that replaces human labour and relieves them of mechanical work, and a higher demand for workers forced to perform more and better.

Fortunato Depero, 'Rascacielos y túneles' (Gratticieli e tunnel), 1930 (image from elpais.com)

But art has also echoed the positive effect of these advances for the work-life. Futurism, an artistic movement of the early s. XX that preceded Cubism and expanded worldwide, is essentially based on the capture of movement, speed, dynamism and progress. For this reason, many of the most representative pieces of this trend include machinery and technological devices associated with the evolution of society and the dizzy speed with which things happen in modern times. Futurists also developed a manifesto, released in 1909 by the Italian artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, which reflects some of their main ideas, always around the treatment of speed and beauty of machinery as a sign of an era marked by advance and innovation.

Soviet poster of the 30's. (image from magnet.xataka.com)

The inclusion of references to the labour world in the Soviet propaganda posters is also paradigmatic. While Futurism was a free artistic movement initiated in Italy, for the Soviet Union, propaganda was an essential diffusion tool, which the regime knew how to use skillfully to expand its message and win supporters. The communication of a discourse based on the duty of citizens to work, on the dignification of men and women with effort, on the benefits of collective commitment and rural sacrifice, resulted in posters with numerous work scenes that today shape a style and an aesthetic unmistakable.

Antonio Berni, “Manifestación”, 1934 (image from prevenblog.com)

In the decade of the 30s, other artists also began to portray the hardships of work and collective demands asking for better conditions for employees. Do not forget that the date chosen to commemorate Labour Day, the 1st of May, is a tribute to the martyrs of Chicago, some anarchist trade unionists who were executed for fostering and participating in various revolts to claim an 8-hour workday, in 1886. Half a century later, the demands of the workers still originate protest movements, reflected by the artists of the moment.

Mural by Diego Rivera – Detroit Institute of Arts

Paradoxically, it was also at this time when companies tried to spread a different image of collective effort, to dignify the role of the working class around the idea of ​​the New Deal. This attempt to make a call to the social contribution to recover the economy, especially after the debacle of the Crack of 1929, led some companies to finance motivational murals that represented employees in the North American factories. This happened with some orders made to Diego de Rivera for Ford factories in Detroit.

 

If visual arts arouse emotions in the viewer, and also gastronomy, at its finest, can cause a similar effect, the relationship between both "disciplines" is more than demonstrated.

Cheese is a fundamental piece in gastronomy, its diversity allows it to be part of gastronomy different moments, from starters to desserts, and that is why Art Madrid includes it in this year’s edition of the Fair from an ambitious place. Cheese is given this way a closest view to the creation of a work of art, both from the point of view of the time spent in its execution process and the almost personalized study dedicated to each piece during its elaboration.

Like a plastic artist, the Cheese Master Affineur executes a series of actions making each piece an exclusive and individualized element. This is what Madrid cheese factory QAVA de Quesos and its Master Afinador José Luis Martín achieve.

QAVA & MARTÍN AFINADOR is a new store concept: a unique space designed to taste, learn, promote and buy cheese in Madrid, in the heart of Retiro district."

José Luis Martín is a key piece in the QAVA cheese factory. He has been working in the cheese world for more than 30 years, providing training throughout the world, visiting cheese shops, consulting and advising on the design and implementation of one of the most emblematic cheese shops in Spain. The fact of knowing the producers personally, and even advising them on the manufacture and design of their products, allows him to select specific batches, at different stages of maturation, to complete the cheese ripening and then convert each piece into a unique product, different and with its own distinct character, the signature of the Cheese Master.

In the profile of the Master Martín Afinador experience and pure knowledge merge. Martín Afinador is an advisor and consultant for artisanal cheese factories and product design, and for the best-specialised stores in the country, director of Gourmetquesos, director and coordinator of the Championship of the Best Cheeses in Spain during nine editions, technical director and jury in national and international cheese competitions and tastings, collaborator of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Academy of Spanish Gastronomy, director and coordinator of the cheese section of the Repsol Guide to the Best Foods in Spain and trainer for hospitality schools and food centres teaching, among other activities.

Cheese ripening is a complex process that requires time and dedication, in addition to a developed use of the senses. The Cheese Master Affineur, as a specialist in the field, works in all cheese stages (varied and complex), controls all stages of raw material transformation, supervises the evolution and development of cheeses according to the characteristics of each one of them, verifies the quality and the state when the cheeses arrive at their cellars, checks their care and conservation, and; finally, he controls its packaging and the type of wrapping suitable for its best preservation.

In Qava de Quesos they have two Cheese Refining Cellars. In these "tuning caves" or refrigerated chambers designed in constant conditions of temperature, humidity and ventilation, "we take great care of the cheeses until they reach their optimum point of consumption". The work of refining involves placing the cheeses on wooden shelves, turning them over daily and/or washing them frequently, brushing them periodically, as well as other regular handlings.

Among the services offered by Qava de Quesos, we can find specific courses and workshops, events for groups and companies, and advice on shop design and ripening rooms.