The Papers of the Exhibition (1977-2017)

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The Papers of the Exhibition (1977-2017) is a collaborative project between Bulegoa z/b and Azkuna Zentroa which will be carried out with several different public instances: a prologue in September 2016, and two international encounters in 2018 and 2019. The project aims to study specific exhibitions between 1977 and 2017. Each international encounter will focus on two decades. In the prologue, crucial, central concepts to the idea of the exhibition and its relationship to the idea of the rehearsal will be introduced.

The Papers of the Exhibition is framed by two dates, that mark the beginning and end of a four-decade period. One is 2017, which is not here yet but is to all effects “today.” The other is 1977, a turning point where Franco “Bifo” Berardi's “after the future” begins, with the full advent of the post-industrial society and the exhaustion of modernity. The midpoint between 1977 and 2017 is especially noteworthy in the context of the Basque Country. 1997 is the year the Guggenheim-Bilbao was opened, inaugurating a new model for the city. The opening of the museum was also a symptom and a consequence of the profound cultural, economic, social and political global transformations that have given rise to the current situation.

The title The Papers of the Exhibition (El ensayo de la exposición) brings together two cultural forms in an apparently ambiguous relationship. On one hand is the polysemic “ensayo”: “rehearsal”, a testing out, an experimental process, but also “essay”, a reflexive or discursive text. On the other, the “exhibition” can be seen as a stable, univocal form. Although the exhibition has gone through changes and transformations throughout its history, it is still essentially a single, concrete, well-defined reality, a public display of artworks in a specific space and time. The title also alludes to an exhibition which is also a text, a discursive artefact, and a trial run, an experimental process. It also refers to other texts which are not the exhibition but are outside of it, but which in some way relate to and condition it.

Following on from this, The Papers of the Exhibition will attempt to juxtapose and relate a series of texts with particular exhibitions between 1977 and 2017. It aims to take a retrospective glance at exhibitions, texts and occurrences in the recent past which continue to resonate today and help us to understand the current moment.

The Papers of the Exhibition will bring together artists, art historians, curators, critics, essayists, designers and students of curating, fine art, art history, design, architecture, sociology and other areas of knowledge through a series of encounters: the prologue in 2016, the two parts of the symposium in 2018 and 2019, and periodical work sessions. This initiative is aimed at anyone interested in its contents, whatever their field of education or profession.

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