EL CONTRATO was a two-year project developed by Bulegoa z/b in collaboration with AzkunaZentroa (previously AlhóndigaBilbao). The project was developed in two phases: a reading group which ran from April 2013 to February 2014, and an exhibition which took place from October 2014 to January 2015. The exhibition was vertebrated around the themes examined in the reading group, and comprised works by around thirty artists, as well as a film programme, talks, performances, and a new reading group. The project aimed to reflect on the way in which contracts, tacit or explicit, determine practices and ways of doing, being and acting.
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EL CONTRATO began with a desire to enquire into the ways in which generally accepted agreements from modernity to today have conditioned the evolution of certain practices within the humanities such as art, history or social theory. Is it possible to negotiate such established accords without falling into the indifference so often associated with consensus; and can the need for the social pact be critically considered without forcing an agreement between different agents?
The first EL CONTRATO reading group were set up in order to review the four main areas anchoring Bulegoa z/b office of art and knowledge's general project: sociology, curatorship, criticism and choreography. The reading group EL CONTRATO shared different documents: essays, historical texts, legal acts, conferences, poems, prose, film reviews, news, interviews, films, audio recordings. Members read aloud, debated and did exercises in collective writing.
The exhibition EL CONTRATO was comprised of twelve parts – reflecting the number of reading sessions – resulting from group discussions: The staging of the social contract, The contract between bodies, The contract in forms of production, The contract as dispositif, Dismantling the contract, Contracts between theory and practice, Declassifying the contract, Written and spoken contracts, Pedagogical contracts, The performativity of the contract, The archive as contract, and The contract with thought.
As well as bringing together the work of around thirty artists, a series of events such as talks, performances, a film programme and a new reading group were also held in the exhibition space during EL CONTRATO. Each of the second reading group's six sessions were proposed by artists from EL CONTRATO around work of theirs from the exhibition. The exhibition set up a dialogue between different art media – painting, film, sculpture, photography, poetry, sound, theatre and dance – and accepted protocols in exhibition and performing arts spaces, questioning them or possibly reaffirming them.
Participants in the show: Eulalia Abaitua, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Agency, Elena Aitzkoa, Malús Arbide, BADco, Ricardo Basbaum, Josu Bilbao, Kajsa Dahlberg, Jon Mikel Euba, Luca Frei, EL CONTRATO reading group, Arne Hendriks, Joost Janmaat and Jasper van den Berg (Academy of Work), Iñaki Imaz, Jeleton, Teresa Lanceta, Karl Larsson, Arantxa Martínez, Asier Mendizabal, Adriana Monti, Rabih Mroué, Carme Nogueira, Anxela Caramés and Uqui Permui (Contenedor de feminismos), Itziar Okariz, Catarina Simão, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Gertrude Stein, Teatro Ojo, Wendelien van Oldenborgh. Works in the exhibition were brought together in a structure designed by Luca Frei. The twelve exhibition posters were designed by Gorka Eizagirre.