Last weekend, commissioned to perform the initial work from our developing What if everything we know is wrong? project, Rosa Casado and I stepped into a large clear room in Artium – Vitoria’s ten year old contemporary art gallery – carrying a bag of pocket dictaphones, a small roll of tape, a black marker pen, and four polaroid photographs. This time we subtitled the event Nosotros pusimos los muertos y ellos disfrutan del cuadro – a quote taken from the writings of painter Antonio Saura (which translates roughly as: We provided the dead and they enjoy the painting). Ultimately using the place built by the work as a context to introduce a recorded reading of Saura’s polemic text Contra el Guernica (Against the Guernica), written in response to the arrival of Picasso’s Guernica in Spain in 1981. Our contribution to the gallery’s current celebrations of the painting’s 75th anniversary.
Turning our attention back to this work, after laying the foundations for it last summer, feels quietly positive and timely. And as we have often found in recent years – especially with our most direct interventions – the piece has matured since our last meeting with it, simply by having become a reality in our subsequent thinking.
So now we have gathered up our dictophones and moved the next phase of the project to Essen, where we have taken up residency in PACT Zollverein – another ten year old cultural centre, but this one housed within the former shower facilities of the largest colliery in the Ruhr – part of the vast Zollverien colliery and coking plant complex, closed in the late 1980’s, and now listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
We will be here for the rest of the month. Three weeks to focus and develop our thoughts within the tangible calm and support of this venue, and the impressively pragmatic and expansive industrial architecture that hosts it. An opportunity to revisit everything we already know about this intimate work, acknowledge what is wrong with it, and find useful ways to live with it.