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GROUP SHOW
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Curator: Rosa Martínez
Andratx Cultural Centre. Mallorca. Spain. March-August 2002
   
Ana Laura Aláez (Bilbao, 1964)
Pilar Albarracín (Sevilla, 1968)
Helena Almeida (Lisboa, 1934)
Vasco Araújo ( Lisboa, 1975)
Miquel Barceló (Felanitx, 1957)
Cristina García Rodero (Puertollano, 1949)
Ferran García Sevilla (Palma de Mallorca, 1949)
Susy Gómez (Pollença, 1964)
Rogelio López Cuenca (Nerja,1959)
Juan Muñoz (Madrid, 1953-2001)
Santiago Sierra (Madrid, 1966)
Néstor Torrens (Tenerife, 1954)
Eulàlia Valldosera (Vilafranca del Penedès, 1963)
Joana Vasconcellos (París, 1971)

Mallorca, like many other islands in the Mediterranean, was once a land of pirates, and the myth of the South and the sun have made it a seasonal paradise. This, together with the fact that artists from the Iberian periphery need enormous determination to survive in an extraordinarily competitive international context, led me to choose the title The Song of the Pirate for the exhibition currently on view at the Centro Cultural Andratx.

Ever since the age of the Romantics the figure of the pirate has been surrounded by an aura of bravery, strength and daring. The pirate breathes the spirit of freedom, braves open horizons and is driven by a boundless ambition. The sea is his home; risk, his way of life. As the song goes, he loves danger, and finds his balance in the storm.... This idealized image highlights the pirates homelessness and lawlessness, but it omits the violence of the economic interest that motivated his travels. In Andratx the story goes that in 1396 pirates carried off everything, including the hosts from the village church... Pirates usually worked on their own, whereas corsairs adopting the same strategies tended to be mercenaries at the service of the geopolitical or imperial interests of governments.

It is also to Romanticism that we owe the vision of the artist as a tormented genius, a creature apart, a bohemian warrior chasing the ideal of a constantly renewed creation. And it is true that it is the artists task to create worlds, combat stereotypes, reinvent languages, hunger for the infinite. As Rafael Alberti once said, the true artist is a pirate whose aim is to steal the dawn from the skies. Nowadays, romanticizing the artist, or the pirate, may seem rather kitsch. And yet the idea still fires our imagination and, as a symbol of freedom, comforts those who find no refuge in the existing order of things.

The 14 artists exhibited here are not pirates, and yet they have some of the pirates heroic qualities. Ana Laura Aláez, Pilar Albarracín, Helena Almeida, Vasco Araújo, Miquel Barceló, Cristina García Rodero, Ferran García Sevilla, Susy Gómez, Rogelio López Cuenca, Juan Muñoz, Santiago Sierra, Néstor Torrens, Eulàlia Valldosera and Joana Vasconcelos come from different regions of Spain and Portugal, and for me they are extraordinary examples of critical rigor, passion, fantasy, and the ability to sail the stormy seas of contemporary artistic production. Some, such as Miquel Barceló, Juan Muñoz or García Sevilla, are already internationally acclaimed. Women such as Helena Almeida and Cristina García Rodero have only recently won the recognition that their constancy, their bravery and their poetics deserve. And the youngest members of the group demonstrate the most promising visions and directions in art at the beginning of the 21st century.

It is only through critical reflection that we can hope to discover from what ideological substrate our practices spring, what vacuums we seek to fill with our unbridled consumption of images, messages and places, and what function art fulfils in this whirlwind. Art is passion and thought, but also production. Production and consumption, as the anthropologist Mary Douglas says, generate material and intellectual wealth. Yet the reigning liberalism demands rapid consumption without resistance... That is why we need artists: to open up the significant moment and critically interpret the times we live in.

In contexts such as those of Spain and Portugal, institutional support for the more daring contemporary artistic practices is not as sustained as it should be, and often many of our most significant creative talents have had to emigrate. It is cause for celebration, therefore, that the promoters of the Centro Cultural Andratx - Jacob and Patricia Asbaek - should have taken on the risk of creating this new cultural facility and decided to open its doors to some of the most noteworthy exponents of the contemporary art of Portugal and Spain.

In their work these 14 artists insinuate questions into our minds and lure us away from dreary routine with the promise of adventure and hidden treasures.

Rosa Martínez