SEA (Socially Engaged Art)
curated by Jesús Fuenmayor
March 30,2013 7-11 pm
3841 NE Second Ave. Suite 103. Miami FL 33137
This exhibition is founded on the two guiding principles of the Nightclub: in the first place, to be an explicitly ephemeral, time-based event, lasting only 4 hours of a single night; and, secondly, to fulfill the implicit condition of being an art marker, or legitimizer. All that on the basis of experimenting with a type of authorless curatorship where curatorship does not lay any claim to intellectual authorship.
In regards to the Nightclub’s condition as an ephemeral event, S.E.A. Miami consists in a curatorial project by curator Jesús Fuenmayor. What becomes the nucleus of the exhibition is the social event itself (or rather the very act of socializing), whereas the exhibits showcased are the photographs of the persons who attended the eleven previous events. Unlike the project conducted by José Antonio Navarrete and Marcos Valella, where the exhibition consisted in placing cameras during the events and reproducing them, S.E.A. Miami is based on the photographs, taken by an undisclosed number of people, of the Nightclub attendees, whom (whether posing or candidly shot) do not switch roles –namely, instead of becoming the “artistic” subject, they keep their own role as spectators. (They are not there to watch themselves engaged in the act of seeing; they are there to be seen, to reassert their distance from the camera, to continue being what they are.) In other words, the spectator is the one who “guarantees” or demonstrates that what is taking place is part of a time continuum, something that belongs solely and uniquely to that particular instant.
As for the second problem—the implicit condition of the exhibit as a marker, an “usurpation” of The Nightclub legitimizing what is and what is not art—it is indeed about reflecting on the possibility of eliminating or fracturing the autonomy, not only of the work of art, but also of the action that produces it; thus entering a space free of any authorial pretensions in the way that has been increasingly endorsed by the creators and promoters of what has being called of late “socially engaged art.”
Obviously, when an archival collection of photographs, reflecting socialization events in a socialization framework (in this case, showing portraits of persons who attended the previous events in the same “context” of said events, marked by a neon sign that works as the only common denominator) is exhibited, a series of tensions will develop. The first of those tensions would be whether curatorship has displaced authorship. In that sense, an effort will be made to present the documentation avoiding all of the monumentalization and spectacularization associated with authorial practices. In an attempt to show a material free of censorship or filters of any kinds, not only all the images stored in the archives will be projected during the presentation, but also the ones that are being received from the participants, so the archives become a work in progress, whose structure is impossible to define using clearly outlined taxonomical boundaries. These materials will be shown through projecting digital presentations, as well as making printed images available so the audience can take them away, as long as they trade them for an image brought by them that will in turn become a part of the exhibition, an exhibition thrust into a state of perpetual mutability by the actions of its own protagonists.
Beyond all authorial tensions characteristic of intersubjective relationships, however, the reception of this exhibit will also be exposed to the tension of vacuity, and hence of the inconformity with what The Nightclub is announcing. That is, that something which temporarily and ephemerally becomes art for a particular community desirous of this symbolic exchange is but a frustrated dream, an impossible aspiration. It is a part of the purposes of this project that this lack of conformity, as well as the tensions inherent to it, are precisely the key to activate what Socially Engaged Art projects try to incorporate as their ultimate meaning: to allow the supposed spectator to fill the void of their purposes.