Scenario by Xabier Salaberria

posted by: Peio Aguirre

The scenario by Xabier Salaberria is the first scenario curated by Peio Aguirre within the framework of the Scenarios about Europe project.

The project features a display system inspired by the hanging-systems of late Modernism – when the exhibition as a medium became used in a variety of fields – as well as a series of framed photographs. The Republican Spanish Pavilion for the World Exhibition of Paris in 1937 is the subject of these photographs. A replica of the building – a faithful reconstruction of the original – now stands on the outskirts of the city of Barcelona, built on the occasion of the Olympic Games in 1992. The building is much less known than its “peer”, the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe for the World Exhibition of 1928 in Barcelona, which is now a tourist attraction for the city. The Spanish Pavilion became a symbol of the Republican resistance against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War and was where Pablo Picasso’s Guernica was shown for the first time, since the famous painting was a commission for the very same pavilion. Now, Xabier Salaberria has commissioned Manolo Laguillo – a professional photographer who has been working within the documentary realm for decades – to photograph the pavilion. This approach becomes a strategy of distance, questioning the authorship of the work as well as maintaining a tension with the mythical connotations of the pavilion as well as with the photographic medium. The installation refers to the national identities represented by architecture as well as the growing awareness of the nation-state boundaries through the “exhibition” of national identities. The work thus questions both the referent and our connection with history as well as establishing itself in a dialectical game between form (the display) and contents (the heavy historical referent). Form and content shift their own meanings to the point of becoming a subject of the work. The tension between form and content then shifts to the dialectics between modernism vs. postmodernism, the particular vs. the universal, punctuated in a playful way by the “unconscious” vs. “conscious” as referenced in the title. Those shifts are made visible through the displacement of the work recurring in the politics of the display. For the display panels, Salaberria took inspiration from the panelling systems devised by the founder of “documenta”, Arnold Bode in the mid- to late-1950s as prototypical modernist solutions for the development of the exhibition as a medium itself. Here and now, the panels are not just a design mechanism nor do they have independence as a sculpture or a piece of furniture. They are intertwined with the content they hold in a dialectical way to point to the ways in which form and content can replace each other. A feature of Salaberria’s work is the use of tools and strategies from design, architecture and art. He proceeds by installing the work with a site-specific approach, considering the economical and architectural conditions of the site. Xabier Salaberria Unconscious / Conscious, 2010
posted by Peio Aguirre
associated tags
architecture authorship Guernica Manolo Laguillo Mies van der Rohe modernism national identity Pablo Picasso Photography politics of the display resistance against fascism World's fair 1937
associated connections

Construction of Cultural Identity

In relation nationalism, hybridity and as a space of projection

Geopolitical Space

Geographical dislocation, local and global, regional and national, unity and difference, public space

Power and Representation

"Scenarios about Europe" demonstrates multiple positions on the current shifting conditions of European social, political, cultural and economic relations. A number of the scenarios look to critically address forms of hegemony, oppressive power relations and structures of governance that exist in current political systems and how such relations should be made visible, negotiated and altered.

Scenarios about Europe

"Scenarios about Europe" is a practical study, the prologue to a large-scale project on how to approach Europe from the perspective of visual arts.

Peio Aguirre

Biographic information about the Spanish curator, writer and editor Peio Aguirre

Xabier Salaberria

Biographic information about the Spanish artist Xabier Salaberria



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