Stories @ Espacio CDMX, 2020

STORIES. Almudena Lobera solo exhibition.

Espacio CDMX. Mexico City
Jan. 30 – Mar. 29, 2020 – extended
Organized by Espacio CDMX and Arroniz
Exhibition Design: LANZA Atelier & Almudena Lobera

Stories proposes another way of visiting an art exhibition, modifying the usual logic which applies to the location of the work, the space which contains it and its viewer. In this case, the exhibition will be moving around continuously on a conveyor belt on which the works are installed, while the viewer will have to stop to gaze through a window and let the exhibition pass in front of him or her, maybe even recording it with their Smartphone without having to move. With this project, Almudena Lobera reflects on perception, representation and the place of the viewer in contemporary society. The pieces (conceived to fit into a necessarily linear reading) are autonomous works that create connections between traditional art genres and techniques and digital image treatment apps while simultaneously conversing with the very device which displays them. This project aims to present the public with a critical and ironic staging of the mechanisms of consumption and communication that prevail nowadays.

Project produced with the support of a 2018 Leonardo Grant for Researchers and Cultural Creators, BBVA Foundation. / Exhibition supported by the AC/E Mobility Program.


Telling Stories

A study published in 2012 by the Department of Psychology at Harvard University shows that sharing information about ourselves stimulates the areas of the brain which are related to feeling emotionally rewarded, which is perhaps why, for a growing percentage of people, merely visiting an art exhibition is not as exciting sharing through social media: I am visiting an art show.

More and more museums are designing selfie-appropriate spots in order to turn their shows into blockbusters, and there are fewer and fewer art spaces where taking pictures is forbidden. To what extent are these types of practices beneficial or harmful to what we understand as contemporary art?

Almudena Lobera’s installation Stories is designed as a critical device that inverts the traditional roles of observer and observed. Upon entering the room, the public is compelled to look out of a window from which, without moving, they will see works of art slowly parading in front of them. Deprived of the ability to decide how much time to spend on each piece, the immobile observers must adapt to the rhythm dictated by the conveyor belt, whose speed has been regulated by the artist. The visitor is presented with a succession of autonomous pieces that compose an open-ended narrative, as if they were a set of film frames that the viewer must interpret.

Only when the viewer chooses to record with his or her own cellphone the continuous movement of the installation does this passive role become an active one. The work is completed when the visitor reproduces this video on their Instagram profile as a story and thus contributes to publicize the installation.

This way, Stories reveals new models of perception and representation in the era of hyper-communication. Since last century, different authors such as Lipovetsky and Bauman have been pointing to speed as a defining feature of today’s hyper-capitalist society. If time was conceived in other times in a cyclical or linear way, today we see it passing in front of us on an ever-refreshing screen with an infinite feed that we can scroll through restlessly (and without moving an inch). Similarly, the art works in this installation are presented to us circulating tirelessly for as long as we decide to look on.

In Stories each of the 15 works that make up this mobile sequence addresses the act of looking and our mechanisms of perception. A color checker chart portrayed as if it were a painted canvas; a couple of hands that hold up a reflective cellphone screen (almost a mirror) with a rotate camera icon engraved on it; the hooded heads of the two lovers from the famous Magritte painting, now properly transformed into masks; the frame made of rigid cloth which somehow resembles a theatre curtain, or the glass jars that preserve iconic Mac wallpaper images.

Subtly connecting classical sculpture with new technologies and still life painting with computer programs, Almudena Lobera constructs a disturbing and, as usual, mysterious narrative. Just as watching an Instagram story makes us feel like we are peeking into someone’s private life, so does watching Stories, a piece which allows us to spy the artist’s inner thoughts.

Thoughts which we will probably feel compelled to share on our social-media.

(Isabel Abascal)