Estudio Nómada – Loop art route around the Barri Gòtic

Creator versus curator… aye, that old chestnut. Seriously, who wants to sleep with the guy with the great music collection to the same extent as he who composes his own minuets? And yet, when it comes to the visual arts, perhaps it’s worth reconsidering.*

A picture of the sign at Plaça Sant Just in Barcelona's Gothic quarter that I stole from Foursquare. It was posted by Julia F on December 19th 2012.On Saturday afternoon I enjoyed a wee stroll through Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic, refreshingly deserted as a storm was faintly rumbling in the heavens. The air was thick and damp, like an oily massage – and that was just one of the unexpected contextual perks of this ‘video art tour’, a programmed event that forms part of Loop Video Art Festival. Comprising of a dozen or so filmed art pieces, in a range of shapes and sizes according to the display, this curated show is spread out over 10 different shops and art spaces in the Barri Gòtic area and is on until June 4th.

The curator is Estudio Nómada, an art studio located in plaça Sant Just. Described as, ‘an international working, learning and exhibition complex for travelling artists’ on its web, it’s kinda ironic that I could find no sign of it. But I was very grateful to it for this little tour, as it led to me to reflect on the nature of curation itself: a word that Word insists is not a word, but that to me suggests an idealistic, socialist venture, one that urges a single work to concede to the group aesthetic, which constitutes an art piece in its own right.
And we humans play an essential role in this total art piece. In our own nomadic presence, in the route we follow, in the interactions we make, in the mood we, and they, are in. This itself is influenced by a load of arbitrary factors, until all combine in a gameplay of chance and intention, that must also occur when a single art piece is created.

Artist Daniela Medina Poch in a performance in Barcelona

The videos proved less hard to find than Nómada, though it still posed a challenge and that was the fun of it. I spent half an hour lost in the labyrinthine Civic Centre Pati Llimona, where I discovered at least three other exhibitions, including a sobering photo-narrative of domestic violence, (part of docfield). I eventually located the Loop vid in the first floor men’s toilet. It turned out to be a man posing in beards in his bathroom mirror (UB Morgan), a popular work, it seems, as it turned up a number of times during my tour – in a hairdresser on Baixada de Viladecols, in a fashionable clothes store where it was projected from above onto a creamy white pouf … it reached the point that its very familiarity finally won me over, and I found myself looking forward to seeing it again.

Loop festival video art in the men's toilet at Centre Civic Pati Llimona in Barcelona.

Although I didn’t see everything, I did find a whole bunch of works in a shop selling oil paintings, where several pieces were doubled up and shown on smartphones that slid out of drawers. I liked the one about how to put on a burka (Daniela Medina Poch) – although it too looked familiar, perhaps from a previous Loop year?
In atmospheric jeweller’s Hàbit, the Amazonian jungle (Diego Fernandez) was projected onto a screen slung over a vast and fascinating workshop. Gazing down at the sparkling machinery, the wheels, cogs, and things that poke and grip, I had a chat with its owner, Miquel, a friendly geologist who now fashions the rocks that he once only scrutinised. Further on, in Sala Ciutat, a public exhibition space just off plaça Sant Jaume, I saw a really sad piece by the Korean artist, Soa J. Hwang. It was about her granny who suffered from dementia, and I think it’s the one I liked the most.

‘Home’ was the theme of this lovely Loop exhibition tour experience, and it’s a topic often revisited in contemporary art. Whatever it may mean to us individually, ‘home’ seems to be something that we all still look for. Although, when we find it, my god! how we long to escape.

Loop Barcelona 2014 promo image

*DISCLAIMER: Those initial lines were just for effect, I have no desire to sleep with any curator/s at present.