Tabakalera débuts the centre’s largest exhibition created together with the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
Tabakalera and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum present the joint exhibition That Time. Both institutions are premièring what is their first collaboration, which arose as an opportunity during the expansion work currently taking place at the Bilbao museum. The pieces travelled from Bilbao to San Sebastian on a journey quite the opposite of their typical flow. With works moving from the museum’s collection to a contemporary creation centre, they will be exhibited at Tabakalera starting tomorrow through 5 November. The showing was curated by an internal team from both institutions: Miriam Alzuri, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Modern and Contemporary Art Curator, and Oier Etxeberria, Tabakalera International Centre for Contemporary Culture’s Public Programme Director.
Past and present were two fundamental focuses of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum’s collection work starting in 1908, including significant examples of artistic manifestations arising between the 2nd century AD and our times. For its part, as a centre whose mission includes promoting contemporary creation, art, and present-day debate, Tabakalera presents itself as an ideal location to offer a new perspective on the museum’s collection. As such, That Time addresses the collection with a perspective firmly based in the present that moves between past and future eras.
The exhibition’s roots are the museum’s collection, which now extends through Tabakalera to tell a story about art and memory. Its title comes from the play That Time (1976) by Samuel Beckett, in which the Irish poet and playwright interweaves and intersects three human voices that refer to three different moments in the life of the protagonist: the voices of youth, maturity, and old age. Likewise, the showing is structured around a circular visit through Tabakalera’s exhibition spaces, in three areas reflected in these three voices that recreate the past (Voice C, old age), the present (Voice A, maturity), and the future (Voice B, youth), thus placing the visitor before three different aspects of the collection’s time and history.
With the more than 500 square metre exhibition space expansion, the That Time exhibition occupies a total of 1,500 square metres with 107 pieces from 80 artists to create a circular visit around Tabakalera’s first floor.
The offering welcomes visitors with eleven busts from different sculptors and eras that draw attention to the memorial nature of portraits that, faced with the fragility of the world and temporary things, keeps the memory of those lost alive. It encourages memory and brings it from the past to another time (the age of the living) and another place (the present). Here are anonymous works and those difficult to date, with others created by well-known artists (Francisco Durrio, Quintín de Torre, Josep Clará, Eduardo Arroyo). Among those depicted are individuals that were famous in their day (painter Aurelio Arteta, African-American dancer and singer Joséphine Baker), and others now unknown. The eleven busts coexist in the space with the new production Pausa pulsar created by artist Ainara LeGardon. This piece is a vocal composition that can be heard through loudspeakers of different sizes and characteristics from different eras, themselves designed as speaking busts.
Voice C, old age
In the first hall (Voice C, old age) works from Vicente Ameztoy, Ibon Aranberri, Bonifacio, Marta Cárdenas, Juan Luis Goenaga, Susana Talayero, and Cy Twombly recreate a past, archaic time −albeit not concluded−, a time in which “what was” still hasn’t left us entirely. The material presence of the past can still be seen in the artistic forms of the present (Idol, by Joan Pié; Locust Woman, by Alberto; Eight Two-Dimensional Menhirs, by Elena Asins; Roots, by Remigio Mendiburu). There are also enigmas of a secularised present (The Hunter, by Óscar Domínguez; Lying Figure in Mirror, by Francis Bacon), conjured up the ritual and myth of medieval sculpture (Saint John at the Foot of the Cross, Spanish anonymous from the 14th century) and altar works (Saint Francis in Prayer Before the Crucifix, by El Greco) with their representations of divine life and mankind’s destiny.
Voice A, maturity
Domesticating time, dividing it into homogeneous units and organising it rationally −eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for leisure− was the aim of the 19th century’s Industrial Revolution, and we are still living with its consequences. The exhibition’s second hall (Voice A, maturity) portrays present time, where the imperatives of a technological and industrial society is manifested in the work of numerous artists (Vicente Cutanda, Celso Lagar, Daniel Vázquez Díaz, Aurelio Arteta, Agustín Ibarrola, June Crespo). Industrial energy and technology as powerful creative forces; war and its consequences as major collateral damage (Goya, Anthony Caro, Mari Puri Herrero, Idoia Montón, Vicente Larrea, Iñaki Gracenea).
Voice B, youth
The last hall places the visitor before future’s uncertainties through Voice B, where Beckett’s play acts as the voice of youth. Pieces from Txomin Badiola, Fernand Léger, Markus Lüpertz, Nemesio Mogrobejo, Miren Arenzana, and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva recreate the diverse ways in which contemporary artists have tackled art history −the past and its ghosts− to create new art. On the contrary, in The Holy Face by Zurbarán, the artist transforms the image of an absent and spectral body into a perpetual presence.
Together with the aforementioned Pausa pulsar by Ainara LeGardon, two more commissioned works from two contemporary artists −The Same Ground by Ilke Gers and Exergo by Jorge Moneo− are also presented in That Time, interrupting the continuity of the works belonging to the museum’s collection. In the form of a film-essay, Exergo poses a series of hypothetical relationships between certain paintings from the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, and the material circumstances under which the professional work of past and contemporary artists is developed. For its part, The Same Ground by Gers was created on the grounds outside the exhibition hall using letters, fragments of letters, symbols, and signs that function as temporary sheet music that moves between language and gestures.
The film That Time by film director and multi-media artist Charles Garrad adapts Samuel Beckett’s play and closes this exhibition’s circular visit.
La exposición «That Time» cuenta con un catálogo que recoge los textos curatoriales de los dos comisarios de la muestra junto al ensayo “El arte como brújula y reloj” de la doctora en Historia de las Ciencias por la Universidad de Harvard Jimena Canales. El catálogo incluye, además, el texto original de BThe That Time exhibition has a catalogue that includes the curatorial texts from the offering’s two curators, together with the essay ‘Art as a Compass and Watch’ by Harvard University Doctor of Science History Jimena Canales. In addition, the catalogue includes Beckett’s original 1976 text together with its 1987 Spanish translation and, for the first time, a translation into Basque. The publication is sponsored by Petronor, and can be purchased for 20 euros from Tabakalera’s Information Point and museum´s store.