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Bestué -Vives

Acciones en Mataró (Actions in Mataró), 2002

Artist’s book

18 x 13 cm

The project Acciones en Mataró / Actions in Mataró (2003) by David Bestué and Marc Vives has a significant place in their career, in that it generated a methodology and an aesthetic attitude that marks the beginning and development of their work together up to 2012.

The two artists’ relationship, which dates from their time at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona, ​​was consolidated in Olla de Grills / Potful of Crickets (2002), a noisy, not to say chaotic presentation superintended by Marta Darder as an end-of-year project for the Art Criticism course.

At that time, the two artists set out to rethink all they had read about the art world and their own personal myths in the context of the culture of the nineteen nineties. The influence of figures such as Gabriel Orozco and Félix González Torres and their fascination with the actions of Fischli & Weiss, with the souvenirs of Carlos Pazos, with Situationist practices or with the potential of the Theatre of the Absurd supplied the critical mechanisms with which to lay the foundations of an aesthetic personality that could evolve without losing the initial attitude: art is not an antidote to the truth, but a provisional resource of return to meaning, in David Bestué’s words.

Actions in Mataró initiated a model of production based on the carrying out and recording of actions, in this case in the street, in the form of minimal ephemeral interventions in and on benches, windows, doors or points in the urban fabric. In all of them there is a narrative about personal mythology and uncontrolled subjectivities. The actions are not visual statements or messages in the unidirectional and semiotically straightforward sense of the term, nor are they interpretations, understood as subsidiary forms of truth; still less are they axioms of or for nothing. The narrative strategy posits two speeds of reading, setting out from an apparently ingenuous gesture to arrive in the sum of its moments at a more complex hypothesis: is art an everyday experience and life an alienated experience? Intuitive and sceptical in manner, deploying the strategy of irony and underpinned by the power of ridicule, the actions are breviaries of their relations with art, the city, sexuality, myths, perversions or enigmas.

The evolution of the actions is effected between chance and reflection but they are never spontaneous gestures. Actions in Mataró amounts to a rereading of the public space from its own particular imaginary. The process involves the design of each intervention, an action and its visual archive. Nothing here is facile or random. Finally, the sum of times and places constructs a project in various formats: action, photography and publication. This structure, with the addition of the video format, will be continued in subsequent chapters of the actions in the home, the body and the universe.

In the dérive between personal moments and social models, the actions take place in a continuous present, which the artists visualize without resorting to grand gestures. The characteristic scenario of precariousness combines with the economy of means to invite speculation, never any affirmation of order. It should be noted that in the project carried out in Mataró there was an unmediated relationship with the public, who in some cases took part in the actions, and also that the first presentation of the project was in an unofficial venue, the studio of the artist Ita Puig, by way of the ACM association, which invited the artists to take part in the Visions de Futur / Future Visions event. The subsequent publication is a joint-venture non-commercial project with the Fundació 30 km/s.

Actions in Mataró is a preliminary exploration of the concept of the spectacle that the artists have gone on to develop in other works. Taking fiction as a paradigm and everyday situations and objects that tend to go unnoticed because they are so routine and banal as the starting point, the artists merge formalization and play with language in a scenographic recreation of the city.

Pilar Bonet


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