THAT TIME WHEN CEMENT WAS THE LAST TREND...

We suggest a tour of some amazing buildings and monuments at a time when cement was the building material par excellence. In the 60s and 70s, many avant-garde architectural projects opted for a resounding and forceful aesthetic, often with reminiscences of Soviet sobriety, which old Europe channelled into public buildings and monuments of great importance. The material was versatile, ductile, resistant and affordable. On the other hand, its final finish does not require painting for its conservation, and that lowers the costs of maintenance and production. Sometime later it was learned that cement of poor quality is irreversibly affected by "aluminosis", and this resulted in serious crumbles and cracks in many neighbourhoods in the outskirts of large cities.

“Tito’s fist”, by Boško Kućanski.

In fact, one of the cases we bring here is the monument to the partisans of the former Yugoslavia who, under the orders of Josip Tito, defended with their lives the bridge of the Neretva River in the battle of the same name, when the German and Italian troops threatened with the occupation in February and March of 1943. The tribute was a colossal fist, futuristic in style, made by the artist Boško Kućanski, winner of an open public call for projects for the memorial. The work was erected in Makljen and was officially inaugurated on November 12th, 1978, in an act attended by Josip Tito himself. The monument was popularly called "Tito’s fist". Today this work has collapsed due to lack of conservation.

L: Honoring the revolution of the people of the region of Moslavina against German occupation (Podgaric, Croatia) - R: Memorial to the fallen in the II World War (Niksic, Montenegro)

Among the most amazing constructions, memorials occupy a prominent place, because by not having a functional use, they leave more room for imagination and design. The sculptures that homage to the fallen in armed conflicts in Eastern Europe are the most enigmatic. They condense the aesthetic heritage of the Soviet period and the Cold War with a futuristic, cold and robust style that has already become the paradigm of an entire era and we must understand in their own context. These monumental works are known in Serbian as "spomeniks", a term widely accepted to refer to them, and means precisely that, sculptures of large dimensions created to commemorate an event.

L: Dedicated to victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp (Jasenovac, Croatia) - R: The fists-shaped Babanj monument, honoring fallen Yugoslavian fighters in World War II (near Niš, Serbia)

Most of these works are abstract and avoid including specific references to an individual or social group. Likewise, they do not incorporate recognisable elements or reproduce human figures. We must not forget that the societies affected by an armed conflict retain a repository of memory that extends over time and that goes beyond the specific events that took place, and in cases where there are also internal divisions for religious and ethnic reasons, besides the political ones, abstraction seems a good option. Its appearance, however, leads many to be ironical about the extraterrestrial influence of these designs.

Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain

In our country cement also boomed at the time. A good example is the headquarters of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, located in the university area of Madrid. This building is a project of the architects Fernando Higueras and Rafael Moneo, who obtained in 1961 the National Architecture Prize. Initially conceived to house the "Artistic Restoration Center", the final execution of the design in 1965, which counted on the collaboration of Antonio Miró, reduced its dimensions a little and maintained its circular structure. The building was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2001 in the monument category.

 

Thirteen years have passed since its beginnings, and in all this time the Video Art Festival PROYECTOR has grown and consolidated its position as an essential event in this discipline. Since its inception, the initiative has tried to give visibility to a discipline that has always been relegated to the background in the usual exhibition circuits. Although video creation is not new, since it emerged by its own in the 60s of last century, the way to get to know it and enjoy it has not always been easy. On many occasions, the exhibitions only included a few isolated pieces within the main route, as if the video was the anecdotal contribution to the whole. However, our daily lives are invaded by moving images, and there is a paradox that video art, despite being a format of artistic expression very much in tune with the habits of today's society, remains a minority discipline

Frame from “Hel City”, by Gregorio Méndez Sáez, 2019

To some extent, PROYECTOR was born to reverse this situation, to value video as a creative format and to offer a wide, itinerant space to host a multitude of proposals, coming from inside and outside our borders. In this time, the growth of the festival has led it to travel the world, but also, to be a benchmark that each year arouses more interest. In the open call to receive proposals, they reach almost half a thousand, and a hundred works selected by the jury are a representative sample of different ways of understanding video creation, with pieces mainly from Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, PROYECTOR wants to be more than a video showcase and offers a large program with talks, workshops, masterclasses, meetings with artists, visits and concerts. A complete experience that always has the moving image as a backdrop.

El Instante Francisco Ruiz de Infante. El bosque que se mueve (errores de medida)

In this evolution, another circumstance stands out: video is a creative format that has its own codes, but it is also one of the disciplines most open to artistic hybridization and the widening of uses. The video may, therefore, be the genuine idea of an author who conceives an autonomous project to be carried out in this format, but it can also be the complementary result of an action or the documentary record of a previous performance being recorded to guarantee its survival. The versatility of the moving image and the potential that it has acquired in recent years allows us today to speak of numerous branches of art that focus on the fusion of languages and the integration of techniques and methodologies from other sectors, and in many of them, the video is still a cornerstone. So it is with technological art, interactive sound art, performance recording, the transformation from big data to image, artificial intelligence, and a long etcetera. Precisely for this reason, PROYECTOR offers a panoramic vision of this reality, with an extremely interesting program that plays with the variety and wealth of proposals.

Frame from “Herdança”, by Thiago Rocha Pitta, 2007

The 2020 edition will run from September 9th to 20th. As usual, the program displays in various venues throughout the city of Madrid, each of which will house a small section of the activities. This year the festival will count with the collaboration of the Casa Árabe, White Lab, Cruce, El Instante Fundación, ¡ésta es una PLAZA!, Extensión AVAM (Matadero Madrid), Institut Français de Madrid, Medialab Prado, Quinta del Sordo, Sala Alcalá 31, Sala El Águila, Secuencia de Inútiles and White Lab, in addition to the collaboration of the INELCOM Collection and the video art collection of Teresa Sapey.

The festival is also the ideal place to articulate the cultural fabric, since it involves numerous professionals in the sector, from curators to creators, from centres managers to critics and teachers. The 2020 program also has the collaboration of the FUSO Festival and the Museo Reina Sofía, which are providing some of their pieces for the exhibition.

In short, an appointment that lovers of contemporary art should not miss and that promises many novelties in this 13th edition.