Public Treasure. Artium Collection

From: Friday, 04 October 2013

To: Sunday, 14 September 2014

Place: South Gallery

A consideration about the role of the museum as a place for making and gestation of communal heritage

Press release | Exhibition's brochure | Works on exhibition

Treasuries come before collections, and at first they were very closely connected with conquests and all forms of acquiring and accumulating property. Public collection begins historically with social self-representation: when, for the first time, the citizenry is recognized as a body with legitimacy and property.

In contemporary society, the museum has been discussed and played down to dispossess it of its functions of authority in some degree and replace them with functions of service. But the museum has kept its legitimacy as a public treasury—as a place of study and protection, as an artificial environment for a class of artistic "beings" representing authentic deposits of a singular and unique human knowledge to exist in—intact across the board.

Preceding and cutting across the history of money, art has been a culturally privileged place for representing value. From the value of the material to the value of the product to the symbolic and speculative value, what a certain culture has deemed valuable has found in art a metaphor and metonymy.

With publicly owned works from the Artium Collection, the Public Treasury exhibition attempts a reflection on the functions of the museum as a place for developing and gestating our common heritage.

If the works represent value, the public collection represents social heritage. All of the riches, excesses and paradoxes that can be found in these public museums condense the complexities of contemporary culture.

From the advent of bartering to monetary abstraction, the history of the coin is the history of representation, i.e. realism. It is the assumption of a system of correspondences, the acceptance of a statement declared by a body that has been granted cultural authority. Theologies, philosophies and ideologies have been great naturalist systems, i.e. great constructions of effects of reality, techniques for the cultural establishment of value correspondences. Modeling the exhibition after the long tradition of the polyptych (from the altarpiece, structured using geometric principles, to the colorful modern, surrealist, constructivist, minimalist, etc. museums, to the first great public collections, the "collection pieces" and 19th century galleries) the intention is to offer a chromatic mosaic in which the works and their relationships establish an exposition of the ties between the notion of value and the construction of reality.

The exhibition aims to establish three main types of realism, each characterized by emphasizing the value of certain factors or aspects present in making art. And each of these emphases of value fabricates a certain reality.

II. Iconic realism. This refers to the evidence of what is felt, of what is perceived, based on a resemblance: it represents its object primarily through its similarity, independently of its way of being.
II.a. SENSORIAL VALUE. This is the value of the truth attributed to the immediacy of perception as well as the ability to achieve this immediacy. The naturalism of the 19th century, based on sensorial immediacy, will be developed in the 20th century in all forms of figuration and photorealism and in the 21st century in a documentalism based on the supposed neutrality of the technical resources of audiovisual recording.
II.b. EMOTIONAL VALUE. This is the value attributed to the truth of psychic experience. The caracaturism of the 19th century, based on the exaggeration of experience, will be developed in the 20th century in all the forms of expressionism and surrealism based on the evidence of what is felt, on the truth of self-expression. In the 21st century this sensibility will be translated into different modes of fictionalism, parody, identifications and intensified realities.

III. Symbolic realism. This refers to the evidence of what is known, of what is thought, based on a representative character of conventionality: it establishes a shared correspondence.
III.a. STRUCTURAL VALUE. This is the value of structural evidence and the capacity for organization. The academicism of the 19th century, concerned with formalization and organization, will be developed in the 20th century as an effort at structural unveiling that will turn organization into subject and structure into figure, exposing the artificiality of naturalism, seeking the return of a new realism that departs from constructive evidence, from abstract figuration. To the point of turning the expressive media into content that is fundamental, even unique to the work, in the medialism of the 21st century.
III.b. CONCEPTUAL VALUE. This is the value of the truth associated with symbolic constructions and cultural meanings. The conventionalism of the 19th century, visible in the search for what is representative and in all modes of symbolic formalization, will be developed in the 20th century as emblematic naturalism, based on the adoption of symbolic characterizations of various types, up to the total diffuse nationalization in the simulationisms of the 21st century.

I. Indexical realism. This refers to the evidence of what is, based on a representative character of contiguity: it indicates the convergence between two experiences.
I.a. MATERIAL VALUE. This is the value of the truth of the material elements that are evident in the work. The realism of the 19th century, conceived as an effort to minimize subjectivity and style, will be developed in the 20th century in an effort at literality and adaptation to the material "truth," even trying to go beyond the representation "presenting" the objects themselves in a sort of primary enunciation, prior to language... From the readymade to the specific object of minimalism, in the 21st century this literalism will lead to a contextualism in which all reality is subsumed in representation and the limit between reality and representation is indiscernable.
I.b. CONTEXTUAL VALUE. This is the value attributed to the external elements specific to the context in which the work takes place, inserted into or “appropriated” by the work. The realism of the 19th century, conceived as a radical mode of contemporaneity wherein the context falls within the work, will be developed in the 20th century in the contextual thematization of all forms of political art, including the Situationist International, and in the 21st century in the treatment of the representation as agency in what is social, as happens in all relational aesthetics.

Public Treasury (Economies of Reality). Artium Collection
Inauguration: Friday, October 4, 2013, 8 PM
Curator: Juan Luis Moraza
Activities: talk by Juan Luis Moraza. Saturday, october5, 12.30 PM.
South Gallery of Artium, from october 4, 2013 until august 31, 2014.
Exhibition catalogue, with texts by Juan Luis Moraza
Exhibition produced by ARTIUM (Vitoria-Gasteiz)
Sponsor: Provincial Council of Alava, Basque Government; Vitoria-Gasteiz City Hall; Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports; El Correo, Euskaltel; and Naturgas Energia

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