10436 - 20170319 - MACBA presents "Hard Gelatin: Hidden Stories from the 80s" - Barcelona - 04.11.2016-19.03.2017

Hard Gelatin. Hidden Stories from the 80s. Exhibition view. Photo: Miquel Coll.
The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona presents Hard Gelatin. Hidden Stories from the 80s, a revision of the hegemonic account of the period between 1977 and 1992 in Spain, questioned from today’s perspective. It looks at a series of social, political and economic events in the history of that period, while presenting the work of a number of groups, cultural activists and artists who adopted subversion and a critical refutation of the established order. The project has been developed as part of L’Internationale, a network of six European museums, which invited its members to propose a critical revision of the eighties within their own context.

The exhibition brings to the fore some of the hidden stories by asking questions and challenging the official narrative and dominant discourses. It is structured around seven possible accounts: Forgotten memory, on anti-history, counter-information and the omission of the recent past; Blind spots, from autonomous groups to democratic institutionalisation; From blue overalls to white collars, from the dismantling of workers’ movements to industrial restructuring; In the neighbourhood of my dreams, from real estate to the city as spectacle; Beautiful losers, on drugs and prisons; Stolen words, counterculture versus the art institution; and Gaseous state, on otherness and escapism as a weapon, the imaginary world. Hard Gelatin brings together over 200 works by 59 artists, half of them from the MACBA Collection, together with a large selection of material from the Museum’s Archive and Library Fonds. Also included are films, documentaries, TV programmes, magazines, comics, fanzines, artworks and anti-artistic exercises, among other materials.

This oxymoron borrowed for the title plays precisely with the idea of gelatin, something insipid, bland and easy digestible, contrasting with the quality of hardness. Hard gelatin does not exist, it goes against its own nature, but it is the perfect description of the kind of digestible image of the eighties that we were sold at the time and has survived to this day,’ says Teresa Grandas, curator of the exhibition. ‘The popular imaginary of that time is full of stereotypes of modernity, democratic consolidation, advances and culture, a lot of culture.’

The official account and the promotion of culture
The official account of the eighties in Spain prioritised necessity over reason and focused on the future rather than an analysis of the recent past. Any critical consideration of affiliation to the Franco regime was dismissed outright. Culture was used by the government as a means of promoting an image of a country that had overcome dictatorship, consolidated democracy and become cosmopolitan. If up until that moment the country had suffered from a lack of investment in cultural institutions promoting contemporary art and creation, every effort was now made to compensate the situation with grants for creation, spaces for emerging artists, major institutions like the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the ARCO art fair, festivals and other events. In Barcelona this resulted in an urban transformation of the city following the announcement of the Olympic Games, and the idea of creating a contemporary art museum (MACBA).

Hard Gelatin does not intend to refute or dismiss any of these accomplishments. It is structured as a space for the confrontation of hypotheses, rather than in the framework of a thesis. The exhibition puts forward micro-stories and some critical approximations in a thematic itinerary that, far from being comprehensive, seeks to suggest some lines of analysis within a complex framework, which may still be of interest from today’s point of view.

The exhibition includes works by: 5QK's (Alfonso de Sierra, Luis Escribano, Ramón Massa, Ces Marti and Enric Bentz); Francesc Abad; Agustín Parejo School; Marcel·lí Antúnez; Txomin Badiola; Antonio Beneyto; Miguel Benlloch; Tino Calabuig; Alan Carrasco; Colita; Societat U de Barcelona (Octavi Comeron, Tere Badia, Jorge Luis Marzo, Guillermon Trujillano, Montse Romaní); Pepe Espaliú; Marcelo Expósito; Daniel García Andújar; Joan Gelabert; Eulàlia Grau; Isaías Griñolo and Angustias García; Federico Guzmán; Joaquim Jordà; José Juan Bartolomé and Cecilia Bartolomé; Lluís Juncosa; Manolo Laguillo; Rogelio López Cuenca; Laia Manresa; Muntadas; Nazario; Ocaña; Anton Patiño; Carlos Pazos; Pere Portabella; Preiswert; Manolo Quejido; Joan Rabascall; Arturo-Fito Rodríguez, Gabriel Villota; Pedro G. Romero; María Ruido; Fernando Ruiz Vergara; Pepe Sales; Mireia Sentís; SIEP (artistic collective); Llorenç Soler; Albert Subirats; Carlos Taillefer; Taller Llunàtic; Steva Terrades; Francesc Torres; Adrià Trescents, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina; Jordi Valls; Ventura Pons; Vídeo-Nou; Jaume Xifra and Zush.

L’Internationale is a network of museums in a long-term collaboration, working within unusual parameters. Unlike other similar experiences, it favours a new artistic internationalism, non-hierarchical and decentralised, and based on the value of difference and horizontal exchanges. The aim is to establish links between the member institutions, create working networks, foment transversal research and share methodologies.

The network includes six major European museums: Moderna galerija (MG, Ljubljana, Slovenia); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, Madrid); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA, Barcelona); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium); SALT (Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey) and Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, Netherlands). Other members include various academic and art institutions associated with the project.