Contemporary Art for the Nave 9 of Matadero Madrid

Maurizio Cattelan, “Bidibidobidiboo”, 1996.

 

 

In 2008, only one year after the opening of Matadero Madrid, the COAM launched a call for projects to rehabilitate the naves 8 and 9. These naves were initially devoted to “Leader Dryer” and “Market and avian abattoir”. The project should include a design to relocate the Intermediae headquarters and other centres of artistic creation, architecture and design of Matadero.

 

 

 

Exterior of nave 9 in Matadero Madrid. @Carlos Rosillo

 

 

Since long ago several proposals were studied to make out of the nave 9 a place devoted to contemporary art. Negotiations to assign to this space a specific goal and turn it into a permanent exhibition space started last year. By then, one of the strongest ideas was to transform it into the headquarter of the contemporary art collection of the Sandretto Madrid Foundation.

 

 

 

Sarah Lucas, “Love Me”, 1998.

 

 

Last September an agreement was finally settled to assign the space for fifty years. The nave will be turned into an exhibition venue to host 105 pieces of this huge collection, which gathers contemporary artworks from the 80’s onwards and includes essential names of the international artistic panorama like Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Anish Kapoor, Helen Marten, Cindy Sherman or Doug Aitken.

 

The opening is scheduled for 2019, but until then there is a lot of work to do, starting with the transformation and adaptation of this surface of 6.300m2, through an architectural project led by David Adjaye and Arturo Franco that will keep untouched the external façade of the nave.
 

 

 

 

Patrizia Sandretto (image taken from El Español).

 

 

The will of Patrizia Sandretto is to maintain part of the activity that characterises the Italian foundation and to turn this space into a place of reference into the Spanish contemporary panorama, which is the natural spot of connection with Latin America and the rest of Europe. One of the essential pillars of this project since the beginning was its support for education, to make contemporary art accessible to everybody and to foster emerging artists. As Patrizia says “I want a centre where everyday something happens”. Therefore, one does not need to wait until the opening to enjoy the programming organised around this collection. Let's keep up to date.

 

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.