Lucía C. Pino Between Debris and Things

14 Feb - 19 Apr 2020
Between Debris and Things


Between debris and things is an exhibition project selected in the Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana’s open call for curators. The exhibition showcases artworks by Jørund Aase Falkenberg, Elena Aitzkoa, Anaís Angulo Delgado, Lucía C. Pino, Alberto Feijóo, Albert Gironès, Christian Lagata, Julia Llerena, Jesús Palomino and Julià Panadès. Besides the works on view in the hall, the exhibition will be fleshed out with a number of tie-in activities which will be held throughout the duration of the exhibition, including a performance by Elena Aitzkoa, a workshop by Alberto Feijóo and a lecture by Federica Matelli.

Back in the 1960s Robert Smithson had already spoken to us about abandoned objects, uncovering the hidden face of capitalist consumerism. In his essay A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic (1967), Smithson applied a strategy of resignification to the industrial ruins in the city of Passaic, focusing his attention of its urban outskirts. These spaces, which Smithson called “entropic landscapes”, are abandoned places halfway between the city and the countryside. The monuments he describes are the end result of man’s flawed attempt at ordering nature and are, inasmuch as contemporary ruins, in the process of being re-absorbed by nature. When using the word “entropic” he wished to define the tendency towards natural balance that consists in a process of dispersion and loss of energy. These processes mean that what has been ordered by man (city planning, architecture, and so on) slowly breaks away and returns to nature. For many decades, this phenomenon was associated with chaos and defined as a movement contrary to evolution, but ultimately it reminds us of man’s limited and ephemeral capacity for action on the natural context.

In his essay Entropy Made Visible (1973) Smithson defined entropy as an effect that contradicts the usual notion of a mechanicist world view. In this text he talked about the problems of waste generated by capitalist society. Though Smithson speaks about recycling and the separation of garbage as methods unable to stop human impact on the environment, it is intriguing to note how he presciently anticipated present-day theories on how human activity on the planet is reaching such a level that we can now rename our era as the Anthropocene, or Capitalocene, (as Donna Haraway redefined it).

Our present moment is defined by two situations which are, in principle, opposed: on one hand, it is increasingly more obvious that the speed of growth required by capitalism is going to leave an indelible mark of waste and modifications on the planet; and, on the other, in present-day philosophy it is increasingly more common to speak about displacing the human being from the centre as an interpreter of the world. In Dark Ecology (2016), Timothy R. Morton advocates a rewriting of ecology and the effects of human interaction on nature without prioritizing humankind, eliminating the idea of “nature” as something outside of or removed from the human world and ditching our distinctions between natural and artificial. According to Morton “the Anthropocene is no more than the name we have given to the fact that there are now materials made by humans which cover the earth’s crust, like, for instance, all kinds of asphalt, which geologists are starting to treat as a new type of mineral. And all kinds of plastics, which, from a certain viewpoint, are also a new mineral.” In Vibrant Matter, a Political Ecology of Things (2010), Jane Bennett takes an anti-anthropocentrist stance, challenging the conventional definition of material as inert. Borrowing from Spinoza’s “affective” bodies and Deleuze and Guattari’s “assemblages”, she defends the active role of non-human materials and argues that inanimate objects possess what she calls “thing-power” or agency on the world: they are able to produce effects and alter the course of events.

This exhibition project wishes to bring together works by a series of artists whose practices are grounded in this conceptual context and based on found materials and objects. The selected artists address various approaches to assemblage, establishing a new kind of relationship with these remains that do not impose any kind of intentionality but rather engage with the relationships which they themselves can create with a view to generating a new narrative.


Antonio R. Montesinos

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