Carrying Rubén

As I write these notes – in the gallery space of the Azkuna Zentroa here in Bilbao – Salut Bueno, Nazario Díaz, Amai Fernández, Axier, Joel and Rubén Mateos Lima are preparing to help each other across the city centre, on foot, and without the aid of Rubén’s wheelchair.

We have already made this journey once today: from 11:00 this morning Salut, Nazario, Amai and Axier carried Rubén from Plaza Nueva to this gallery space, in a series of short journeys of precisely nine minutes duration – attempting to reach agreed locations within these allowed times, and being filmed by Joel and I as they walked. At each location, they then paused for a few minutes rest, and posed for a group polaroid, before moving on… In front of me, on the 12m tabletop I have now laid out in the centre of this vast 45m room, and which is providing the focal hub of this work and its performance, I have a series of nine polaroid snapshots and eight numbered video SD cards – already the only physical documentary remnants of that journey.

Carrying Rubén [performance still]
Carrying Rubén [performance still]

This evening, the rest of the group will all attempt to retrace that same journey exactly – across a city that, within the space of a few hours, has changed it’s nature. Cycle couriers Osvaldo Navia Canelo and Ricardo Flores Rojas will bring the video footage back to me here, within ten minutes of it’s making, out there… And here in this room, with a time delay equal to the time it takes for the videos to be filmed and then carried here, I will assemble possible views onto both journeys from the material available to me… That time delay will mean that the group will arrive here, carrying Rubén down and into this gallery space, some 30mins before the completion of my reconstruction of their journey – allowing us all to meet and watch the composite footage of their arrival together…

I am very much looking forawrd to this. It has already been a great day – from stepping out into the crowded city streets this morning, to seeing Rubén being carried in through the gathered media of the formal press launch of this festival on our arrival here to complete the first journey… A lot has happend in the fifteen years since Carrying Lyn back in 2001. That act, as we shaped and performed it for the first time, undoubtedly revealed possibilites that have informed much of my subsequent work. And revisiting this work here and now, in the cold light of those subsequent experiences – and with the commitment and open daily pragmatism that Rubén and his friends have brough to this task, within the central streets of their city today – has not only clarified, but also expanded, its intentions and proposal…

Images: phone shots – Brookes 2016