The guest work
2022-03-23 • 2022-06-26
Video installation Arnasa (2020)
Gallery 33, 23 March-26 June/2022
Sponsor: Fundación Banco Santander
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 23 March 2022.- The sixty-sixth edition of the Guest Work programme is offering a new artistic experience via a reinterpretation of Arnasa, a light installation that the artist Maider López created in 2020 on commission from the museum and the Banco Santander Foundation. The work was active on the nights from 4 June 2020 to 1 January 2021, when passers-by were able to see the museum ‘breathe’ from the outside through the gradual illumination of its galleries and spacese sus galerías y espacios.
In parallel, the artist worked on recording the material for the video installation that will be shared for the first time in the museum’s gallery 33 until 26 June. In contrast to the ephemeral nature of the light installation, this three-channel video installation of synchronised videos and sound in a 16-minute, 26-second loop occupies three walls and shows the museum’s walls turning on and off successively and continuously while the works of art and architectural features appear and disappear before spectators at the slow, constant pace of breathing.
The piece was acquired thanks to the special grants from the Department of Culture and Language Policy of the Basque Government, earmarked for purchasing artworks from living artists, as part of a programme managed by the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country – Artium Museoa, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and Tabakalera International Centre for Contemporary Culture. The acquired pieces comprise a collection known as the Colección Compartida (shared collection).
The video installation Arnasa emerged from the installation by the same name held at night at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum from 4 June 2020 to 1 January 2021.
The lights inside the building gradually turn on and off at the slow, constant pace of breathing. The light leaves the building through the windows and glass walls, expanding the museum and connecting inside with outside. The changes in the brightness of the light can be seen from the street, and passers-by can perceive how the museum’s inside gives off light, giving the sense that it is breathing.
All the museum’s galleries gradually turn on and off at the same time. The entire museum breathes as a single unit, and this can be seen on its different façades, which show the light behind the walls, making the building appear to move.
The gradual transition from light to darkness and vice-versa takes 8 seconds, and between each transition there is a moment of stillness (light or darkness) that lasts 4 seconds. The sense of the building breathing comes from the timing and similarities with the frequency of breathing through inhalation (transition to light), air retention or apnoea (brief stillness of the light), and exhalation (transition from light to darkness) and another spell of apnoea (brief stillness of the darkness), as well as the constant repetition of these phases.
The project bears in mind the specific context when it was created, namely the COVID-19 health crisis. It is a piece meant to be seen from the street, seeing the museum from the outside and integrating it into the city.
The museum is alive, even when closed. When I visited the museum when it was closed for two months during the lockdown, I felt how the works were still there, even if we weren’t.
It was a powerful sense of life, that the museum was contributing even though it was closed, like a garden we cannot enter or see or enjoy directly yet whose trees and vegetation contribute to communal life through the air, the bees visiting it, etc.
The video installation Arnasa is made up of three synchronised channels, each projected onto a wall. On all three, the light turns on and off at precisely the same time, transferring the pace of light from the film to the gallery where it is on display.
Architectural features and works of art appear and disappear at a slow, constant pace. A baseboard, a brick wall and the figure in a painting are gradually lost in the darkness and once again gradually reappear with the light, after a brief pause. The planes gradually open up from details to general views until the galleries are shown and the museum’s interior can be seen outdoors. Throughout the film, a constant pace of transition from darkness to light and from light to darkness remains gives the sense that the paintings, the sculptures, the staircases, the doors, the building and the museum itself are breathing.
At the same time, two other channels are showing still shots of the museum’s two different façades from the outside.
Her work has been shown internationally through actions and interventions whose point of departure is architecture and public space, and which suggest to spectators new ways of perceiving and interacting with their surroundings. Her works often require the participation of the audience, who gets involved via subtly altered space.
Her works have frequently been exhibited both in Spain and internationally. She has participated in the 2005 Venice Biennale (The Experience of Art, 51 Biennale di Venezia), the 2009 Sharjah Biennial (Provisions for the Future, Sharjah Biennial 9, United Arab Emirates) and the 2013 Istanbul Biennial (Mom, am I a Barbarian, 13th Istanbul Biennial).
She has participated in exhibitions like: KØS Art Museum in Public Spaces, Denmark (Hummings, 2021); Bilbao Fine Arts Museum (Arnasa, 2020); Statens Konstrad, Sweden (Art is Happening, 2019); Prospect 4. Contemporary Art Triennial. New Orleans (2017), Galería Espacio Mínimo, Madrid (Zoom in, 2017); Matadero Madrid (1645 Tizas, 2016); Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, San Sebastián and MARCO, Vigo (Desplazamiento, 2015 and 2016); Les Ateliers de Rennes, 4th Biennale d'Art Contemporain, Rennes, France (Play Time, 2014); Lower Austria Contemporary (Mountain, 2013); SKOR. Foundation Art and Public Space and Witte de With Contemporary Art, Netherlands (Polder Cup, 2010); Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (Eclats, 2010); SCAPE, Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space, New Zealand (2008); Guggenheim Bilbao (Chacun à Son Goût, 2007) and Caixa Forum Barcelona (Columnes, 2006); among others.
With a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country, Maider López (San Sebastián, 1975) pursued postgraduate studies at the Chelsea College of Arts in London.
Virtual encounter held on 14 August 2020 between Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries of London; Miriam Alzuri, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum; and Maider López, artist.
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