A BRIDGE OF LIGHT AND SOUND IN THE OLD SALAMANCA

Last weekend Salamanca was filled with light. For the third year in a row, the festival “Luz y Vanguardias” flooded the façades of this city with projections and creations that generate a bridge between the past and the future, between historical heritage and contemporaneity.

The artworks are designed to be projected on the old town of Salamanca. The City Hall (Plaza Mayor), the Casa de las Conchas, the Plaza de Anaya next to the New Cathedral and the Church of the San Esteban Convent are some of the buildings selected for this edition. In addition, the festival is structured in four sections where both young talent and international studios can fit: the guest artists section, the contest section, the young creators' section and the “Luz+” program.

One of the highlights of the festival is the International Videomaping Contest for creative projects on the façade of the City Hall. This year there were records of participation, with works coming from all around the world: twenty-nine artists and studios from Spain, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Austria, Thailand, Canada, Mexico and Colombia. The work "Pneuma" of the studio VideomapingPro (Spain) has been the winner of this year, and the award of the public was granted to "R_Evolution", by the Mexican Jesús Gutiérrez Mercado.

To promote young talent, the festival dedicates a section to students of the fine and audiovisual arts of the universities of the city. The selected artworks are projected on the façade of the Casa de las Conchas. In this edition, 52 students participated with 35 proposals of different themes and techniques. For its part, the “Luz+” section opens the door to the creations of several art spaces in the city that deals with the concept of light.

The invited artists in this edition were Juan López (Alto Maliaño, Cantabria 1979), Eugenio Ampudia (Melgar, Valladolid, 1958), Darya von Berner (Mexico, 1960) and Charles Sandison (Scotland, 1969). The common characteristic of these creators is the connection of their work with the new technologies that result in installations, videos, projections and works in public spaces.

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.