MUSAC, reference point for a Museum of the Present
By Elena Lafuente Alonso
The Castile and León Museum of Contemporary Art, situated in the city of León, was founded in the year 2005, and its experimental character, along with the possible risks this implies, have been manifest from the very beginning. The museum’s goal, of being one of the driving forces with respect to contemporary art, has led to its claim to be a Museum of the Present, or the Museum of the XXI Century.
The MUSAC collection aims to facilitate a flexible dialogue between works generated within the national panorama and those produced in the rest of the world, and to create a space where traditional techniques and those which fall within a more innovative framework can coexist, and where an optimum understanding of and between recognised and new artists can be achieved.
In situ images of “Existencias” exhibition
The MUSAC building contains three exhibition spaces: the halls, which make up the principal exhibition areas, the showcase project –conceived as a kind of display cabinet with two glazed exhibition spaces– with displays in parallel to those in the halls, and the 987 Laboratory, devoted to the specific projects of new artists.
On the 1st of April, 2005, the Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time, with the inaugural exhibition “Emergencias” (“Emergings”), the name being taken form the work of Alfredo Jaar, presented in the same exhibition.
Starting from a utopian vision, the idea was to make manifest to the spectator the situation of utmost emergency in which the world finds itself today, and from there, present solutions to the threat, thus kindling the possibility of hope for a renewed future. The second exhibition, unlike the first, did not have a global title which encompassed the totality of the works exhibited, but comprised three independent exhibitions.
Pierre Huyghe Exhibition, May/September 2007
The first of these, featuring the works of the Valladolid artist Dora García, was a retrospective of her works over the past ten years, including pieces produced specifically for the exhibition. With the high conceptual component which has always characterised her work, she analyses the relationship which exists between transmitter and receiver through sound. The second exhibition featured the artist Shirin Neshat, originally from Iran but educated in the west. The exhibition, comprising photography and video installations, put Muslim women in the spotlight, offering a vision of the role which they play in contemporary Iranian society.
“Subject” was the name of the third exhibition on display at the same time as tose previously mentioned. Commissioned by the museum’s director, Rafael Doctor, it was composed of works by twenty four artists and was predominantly an exhibition of photographic works in the genre of contemporary portraits.
Shirin Neshat, October/December 2005
The MUSAC celebrated its first year with the exhibition “Globos Sonda/Trial Balloons”. This was a risky venture produced by the museum itself, which brought together the works of 48 artists and other actors, with the aim of reviewing the multiple artistic trends in existence today. The works of two Spanish and two foreign artists were exhibited in the museum in the closing months of 2006. Daniel Verbis’ exhibition, entitled misojosentusojosderramándose (myeyesinyoureyes-overflowing), explored the most innovative pictorial representations, in particular questioning the concept of the medium.
The creative vitality of Felicidad Moreno was presented via an installation conceived by the artist specifically for the MUSAC, comprising 14 large scale digital impressions, and light and laser projections investigating light and colour.
The MUSAC also gave the artistic team Muntean/Rosenblum the pleasure of their first individual exhibition, comprising a retrospective exhibition of their work, in Spain. Although predominantly featuring paintings, the exhibition also included photography and video.
“Black City” was the title of the exhibition of works by the artist Julie Mehetru. In her work she superimposes successive layers of paint and cartographic drawings, creating a pictorial universe where her own biography plays an important part. The last exhibitions offered by the MUSAC before the present exhibition “Existencias” (“Stock”), brought together such diverse artists as Candice Breitz, the Japanese Architectural team SANAA (comprising Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa), Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Pierre Huyghe, Ángel Marcos and Nestor San Miguel Diest.
Continuing until the 6th of January 2008, the exhibition “Existencias” presents the works of over 200 artists represented in the MUSAC collection. “Existencias” is the title of an exhibition which remits to one of the maxims of collectionism: the accumulation of works. The space available is converted into what is practically a warehouse, recalling the display cabinets of the XVI and XVII centuries, full of curiosities, with a complete lack of thematic links or narrative which would enable a linear reading of the work displayed. Thus the spectator, faced with a level of saturation, is free to view the exhibition in total anarchy, without the constrictions of thematic links.
Elena Lafuente Alonso is Graduate in History of Art at León University