Text published in the book FESTIM HóSPEDE, Ensaio Curatorial, edited by Hóspede, Porto (Portugal), 2012.
[en] The Political & Social [and Immaterial] potential of Curating
With the Goethean title MEHR LICHT (More Light), the contemporary art centre Arts Santa Monica (Barcelona) presents the first retrospective of the artist Chema Alvargonzalez, a distinguished multidisciplinary artist who lived and worked halfway between two cities: Barcelona and Berlin.
This title Mehr Licht refers to Goethe’s last words he pronounced before his death. While he was looking through the window of his Weimar house, and wanting another shutter opened to the morning sun, the Germany's greatest literary called to a servant for "More light!" Then his finger traced a word on the air, he shifted in his chair, and he fell asleep, dying at some moment well before anyone realized.
With this title, the curator proposes a metaphor: Chema’s works are presented as a light blast that enter through the window of his room in Berlin. And from Chema’s view, this light represents a trip through her (the light), where light is energy, a source of knowledge and a marker of the passage of time in the artist’s imaginary.
In an enormous black square like architectural structure that raises in the centre of the Santa Mònica cloister, the four walls speaks to us about the four thematic sections that articulate the exhibition: The voyage à la derive, Art and Science United by Chance, A Dream of City and The Wound of Absence. Across them the public enters the hybrid and multidisciplinary language of the artist.
The voyage à la derive is a journey between the real and the unreal, the visible and the visible, the physical and metaphysical, refers to the continuum of human condition and transformation. Through sculptures and installations that evokes time, transit and memory, the artist talks about the journey in time and the light of the journey.
Art and Science United by Change is about life understood as something ephemeral and transitory. We are isolated, subjected to the movement. We are all just passing through, here by change.
The artist explores the meaning of serendipity, which means chance, evoked by marbles as a metaphor of absurd, fortuitous.
A Dream of City talks about the city as a paradigm of what is particular and universal and as the vital space of the human subject in constant transformation. Specifically in this work, the artist experiences the city as a source of energy, a catalyst of new realities, meaning and gazes, as a generator of ideas which is continually changing urban landscapes.
The wound of Absence talks about absence that leaves its mark on time and space. Scenarios in ruins and forgotten for the human represent the nostalgia and the pain caused by the contrast between what is and what has been made.
The photographies and the installations of Chema Alvargonzalez talks about the topics to which he was resorting and questioning constantly. The city and the architecture are raised as mirror of the human aspirations, the urban thing acquires an own poetics between royal and phantasmagoric in photographies that overcome the limits of the media to adopt almost pictorial qualities.
The topic of the present trip in the installations with suitcases is understood as a metaphor of the continuous transformation of the man, of the nomadic nature of the ideas. The light and the language not only in his meaning but in his architectural form, as well as the sound, are different elements that interweave and mark the pace of the particular trip for the exhibition.
Windows that reveal an urban landscape or tunnels that take us to an unknown destination, the city in Chema Alvargonzález is like the forest in a fable, a strange place where the artist finds multitude of unexplored readings, a dream that takes us from the semidarkness to the light, always mehr licht.
Chema was a prominent photographer and artist multimedia that studied contemporary process of image at L’Escola La Massana of Barcelona and finished his degree in Fine Arts in 1993, obtaining a Master in Multimedia directed by the versatile artist Rebecca Horn, in the well-known Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. In general, Chema Alvargonzalez's plastic universe is a result of a deep investigation on the modern man in the post-industrial society. The cities have been for him a source of constant inspiration, specially in what to his meaning like vital context of the human being refers. The city is for Alvargonzalez the reflection of the collective condition of the man, that is why his interest for the architecture, the different urban elements and the artificial light. The constant approach of his work is the idea of trajectory and journey, which defines the existence of the modern man in the cities.
Chema is acclaimed as on of the seminal artists of the first wave of techno-cultural globalization. He belongs to a generation of artists who started out in the eighties and were fully involved in developing the artistic discourse of the nineties, with innovative experiments in the fields of photography and multimedia art.
Chema Alvargonzalez was the founder of the non profit organization GlogauAIR, an old school in the heart of Kreuzberg, border neighborhood between East and West Berlin. His intention was to create a meeting point between artists from all disciplines to work in collaboration, expanding their practice in terms of materials, formats and style.
During his long suffering, Alvargonzález continued his artistic and photographic projects in collaborations with diverse medias and in his support to the GlogauAIR residence (Glogauer Strasse 16), directed in the last years by the artist Irene Pascual.
Olga Sureda Guasch