The first notions that usually come to mind when considering garbage, waste and deterioration are generally negative, when not outright nauseating. We are aware of the physical and chemical processes of the matter around us, beginning with the cycles of nature itself, including industrial processes, technical constructions and manufactured consumer items, and ending with the very materiality of the human being as a living organism. This crisscrossing of elements and activities-which, after all, is what makes the human being civilized and cultural, negotiating and struggling to domesticate and exploit the landscape and the ecosystem, the planet, in short-generates endless reactions, overpopulation and overproduction, upsets and imbalances, and therefore waste, before which we often do not know how to react or that, metaphorically, but also in the practical reality, we end up sweeping under the rug and looking the other way.
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The visual arts look many different ways, and although they usually attract many views because of their connotations of beauty, taste, aesthetics, etc., the multiple and relational vision of contemporary artists has also wanted and known how to look under the rug at the theme of garbage and waste. In fact, throughout the 20th century, since the first collages and assemblages with the refuse and found objects of cubism, Dadaism and surrealism, to the practices of conceptual art, Nouveau Réalisme, Arte Povera, land art, and other movements from the 1960s and 70s, which focused on the material, the organic and the conflicts between what is natural and what is produced, the truth is that the idea of waste is not at all strange to the art world.
Inherent to the concept of waste, over time the term recycling has also appeared, and it has become increasingly mainstream since the energy crisis of 1973. Since then, recycling has turned into a catchphrase we apply both to the new cycles of use and reuse waste affords us after it has been separated and reprocessed, and to the idea that an artist has to recycle his or her oeuvre and style in order to more effectively meet the demands for novelty that seem to be at the very root of artistic activity, the exhibition circuit and the market.
Waste and recycling are, then, the two concepts around which this exhibition is conceived. These two terms to be addressed through the selection of works of a number of of artists who sometimes present us with ingenious visual results (for example, Vik Muniz Chus García-Fraile and Diet Wiegman); whereas others play with spectacle and provocation, yet with undercurrents pointing to the excesses of consumer society (in the case of Chris Jordan and Ester Partegàs); still others elicit protest against environmental degradation, yet they do so deploying a combination of audacity, alienation and poetics (in the case of Basurama, Donna Conlon, Mark Dion and Regina José Galindo).
Artists: Basurama, Donna Conlon, Mark Dion, Regina José Galindo, Chus García Fraile, Chris Jordan, Vik Muniz, Ester Partegàs, Diet Wiegman.
The exhibiton runs from February 5 through May 9, 2010 at Centro de Arte y Naturaleza