AND EDUARDO BALANZA OPENED UP THE DOORS OF HIS STUDIO…

The difficult task of defining Eduardo Balanza's work becomes easier when you share a live experience with him. We enjoyed a visit to his studio on Saturday, February 22, within the “Art Madrid-Proyector'20” action program. It was the perfect opportunity to getting to know his work and personality, and to understand the clear connections that exist between his various works. Between eclectic, versatile, technological, experimental, audiovisual, editorial... and many other qualifications applicable to the work of this author, the encounter with Eduardo helped us discover a generous artist, concerned above all with socio-political and environmental issues, who apply technology in a very rational way to his projects, and who is not satisfied with a simple reading of his pieces.

Photo by Txema Alcega

Eduardo Balanza (Murcia, 1971) graduated in Audiovisual Media, studied documentary film and screenplay at the International School of Film and Television in Havana, as well as at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He needs to travel, and for several years he was roaming between Berlin and Spain while working in theatre companies as a set designer. As a plastic artist, he has developed a multidisciplinary work taking sound and music as a starting point on which to research and build pieces, installations and performances. However, even these attempts to explain his career fall short, since, although the influence of video is evident in many of his works, in others the construction of artefacts or the emergence of conceptual discourse through periodic publications are the essence of the piece. As he himself admits: "It is true that I studied photography, screen printing, 3D, I worked in cinema, in fashion as a photographer, advertising and campaigns, theatre... The multidisciplinary involves attitude and creative concern." Indeed, Eduardo is attitude and concern.

Photo by Melisa Medina

What is clear is that Eduardo Balanza shows great humility and transparency in all his work. The transformation of each life experience into learning reveals the complexity of our world, the diversity that inhabits it, the different ways of understanding that exist and the need we have to adapt ourselves, beyond pure survival. In a recent interview, Eduardo explained: “Living has also become a bit of resistance. Living requires adaptation, as in an ice age." And part of that adaptation consists of admitting mistakes, knowing how to rectify because nothing is linear and today's society imposes on us a dictatorial obligation of permanent success totally fake without margin for error. On this, the artist comments:

Sometimes failure is pleasant. You have to lose battles, be thrown into the mud and have to get up. There is no need to be afraid to start from scratch; from failure, you learn a lot. We get frustrated very quickly, we have no stamina.

Photo by Txema Alcega

This humanistic approach to his own life trajectory has made identity, music and war his three main axes of work. Music as a factor of union, and war, of separation, and underlying these opposing forces, which sometimes collide and sometimes point in the same direction, is the collective identity. The artistic exploration of these intangible realities, but drivers of many current social movements, transforms into an infinity of projects that this author develops from his personal experience, wanting to transfer to his works all the rawness, aridity and harmony that the real world offers us. Eduardo explains that:

Where culture does not arrive, barbarism arrives. ... There is a clear absence of many values. Music, identity, collective identity, group movements are trending and the most interesting thing right now is collage. War, music and identity are my subjects, in the end, everyone talks about the same thing.

During the visit to his studio in Madrid, Eduardo presented us with the artwork “B71”, an electroacoustic instrument inspired by the baroque organs that combines sound and technology with an impressive result. The B71 organ is an instrument that works activated by vibrating loudspeakers on plates capable of connecting to meteorological data websites, according to the coordinates entered in the system to generate surround music based on loops. B71 works in both manual and automatic modes, generating its own sounds by itself. Visitors were able to fully understand its operation and test the organ while Eduardo explained all the technical implications of this installation work.

Frame from "La fragilidad de habitar", 2019, Eduardo Balanza

In addition to this and to know some of his editorial pieces in the FEU project: United Electronic Front, we were also able to enjoy his work on video. In the garage of his studio, which acts as a projection room, we watched his latest proposal: “La fragilidad de habitar”, a documentary video art work that shows the situation of extreme need in the shanty towns of temporary workers in Níjar (Almería). This piece, made in 2019, created mostly from zenith planes, brings to light a reality often ignored and shows ways of life-based on absolute subsistence. Today the work is on display at the Cepaim Foundation in Madrid.

And in the meantime, Eduardo continues working. He is currently developing some video research on hydroelectric complexes in Norway, the "Landscape Transformation" and the generation of sounds in these natural spaces, supported by the Skien Komune from Telemark.

From here we thank him for opening the door of his studio and sharing an excellent Saturday morning with us as we learned a little more about his work.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.