Prologue. The Papers of the Exhibition (1977-2017)


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.

On the 28th, 29th and 30th of September 2016, Azkuna Zentroa will host the prologue with a series of seminars and conferences on some key concepts in the project. Speakers João Fernandes, Aurora Fernández Polanco, Luca Frei, Isabella Maidment and Carla Zaccagnini will create a preamble to some of the landmarks in art exhibitions since the mid twentieth century, and to the concepts that have come into use around them. The prologue is open to anyone interested, especially artists, curators, art historians, critics, writers, designers, and students of fine arts, curating, art history, design, architecture, sociology and other fields of study.

Wednesday, September 28
18.00. Introduction
18.30. The Night Work of Group Zero: Isabella Maidment
19.30. Essaying the Exhibition, Unfolding. Aurora Fernández Polanco
20.30. Cocktail

Thursday, September 29
10.00-13.30. Getting Lost in the details. Seminar with Aurora Fernández Polanco

18.30. Hermann Scherchen: alles hörbar machen. An introduction. Luca Frei
19.30. Of Caimans and Butterflies. Carla Zaccagnini

Friday, September 30
10.00-13.30. Any resemblance is not coincidence. Seminar with Luca Frei and Carla Zaccagnini

18.30. Circa 1968. João Fernandes

The Night Work of Group Zero. Isabella Maidment
This paper positions the night work of the Dusseldorf-based Group Zero as a significant example of the post-war development towards an art of simultaneous production, presentation, and reception that has otherwise been overlooked in canonical narratives of the history of the neo-avant-garde. Whilst highlighting the urgency of the live exhibition as a new space of representation for Group Zero, the paper presents night-time as systematically integral to its aesthetic agenda. The temporal framing of night-time is deployed as a discursive framework to suggest that the live event emerged as a new aesthetic paradigm in the wake of Second World War.

Essaying the Exhibition, Deployment. Aurora Fernández Polanco
The strategy of deployment is a way of solving the problem of encapsulated signs. In artistic research, beyond the weave of images and text, to essay is to deploy something towards its staging – the issue is no longer to exhibit or to explain; it is more complicated now; we search for the voice and the missing body. In artistic investigation-creation, desire is infra-structural: there is no “molar-mass” knowledge that begins in the soul, travels down a ture and ends up on a ground, in a space. There are molecular vanishing lines, a deployment where the contents of production and reception, “forms of life” cross each other. We will be accompanied by Deleuze and Guattari, and Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, who revisited them in Vincennes

Getting Lost in the Details. Aurora Fernández Polanco
Absent-minded, inconsistent, dreamy, chaotic, unsteady, is what the advocates of the essence tend to call those who prefer to get wrapped up in the details. In this seminar on exhibiting-testing out, we will consider the positive aspects of the practice of getting lost in the inessential. Beyond (or as well as) the psychoanalitical tradition of the symptom, we will consider the detail as a vacuola of silence (Deleuze), an infra-action (Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson), or a mark of singularity for the smallest gestures and encounters (Peter Pal Pelbart/Guattari).

In order to work on all this:

1) We will propose material, texts or video to be consulted before the seminar.
2) We will talk in small groups on what has caught our attention.
3) We will forbid ourselves to interpret the texts and make use of concepts (art, power, coercion, exhibition, desire…).
4) We will begin to express our impressions through the (external) figure of deployment: using a phenomenological description, we will propose examples, gestures, heterogeneous images which we will try to combine in order to find a format. We will continue to deploy until we create a strategy to show. To exhibit = to create a different space-time for the “art of living”.

Hermann Scherchen: alles hörbar machen. An Introduction
Luca Frei will be giving an introduction to his research on German music conductor Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966) and his Electro-Acoustic Experimental Studio in Gravesano, Switzerland. His talk will focus on his approach as visual artist, researcher and archivist, and his way of incorporating these different roles into the exhibition format. In the specific case of Frei’s interpretation of Scherchen, the idea of the exhibition and its relationship to the idea of the rehearsal, as articulated in the invitation to the conference, opens up an interesting connection between music and visual art.

Of Caimans and Butterflies. Carla Zaccagnini
Recently, when I was doing some research on a historical personage, quite a legendary one, I remembered my grandfather. Or rather, I remembered things I’d heard about my father’s father, who I never knew. There are things in common in the life histories of him and the historical personage, and they are not alone in this; both of them were the kind of immigrants who could take the ship back to Europe. But they share the same desire to stay, to “make their America” (not just, as the expression meant, to find their fortunes); a desire to build the America of the future in the land of promise. What kind of shapes does this desire take, and what ruins does it leave, when the future you long for recedes into the past?

Any resemblance is not coincidence. Seminar with Luca Frei and Carla Zaccagnini
The seminar will further develop questions that arose during the talks of the previous evening, and Luca Frei’s and Carla Zaccagnini’s shared concerns on the articulation of biographical aspects into larger narratives. By looking at a selection of works by artists such as Ana Gallardo, Sara Jordenö, and Runo Lagomarsino, the artists would like to open a conversation about artistic approaches and methodologies that depart from life events, family stories and personal interests to address issues that are to be discussed in a public sphere. The idea is that this conversation can be enriched by participants’ contributions with regard to their own projects and their experience as an audience. The discussion will address questions such as how to make different aspects of time, geography and history meet through artistic narratives, and how shifts in value affect the reading of these narratives.

Circa 1968. João Fernandes
Circa 1968 was the title of the exhibition curated by Vicente Todolí and João Fernandes with which the Serralves Museum in Porto was inaugurated on 8 June 1999. The exhibition included more than 600 works created between 1965 and 1975 belonging to movements such as arte povera, land art, neo-expressionism, body-art or conceptual art, and was presented as a “museological project, the philosophy of a collection and a series of artistic experiences that are defined by an overcoming of limits.”


João Fernandes (Bragança, 1964) has been the deputy director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid since 2012. Previously, he was the director of the Serralves Museum in Porto since 2003, where he planned and curated exhibitions by artists such as Eduardo Batarda, Dara Birnbaum, Lourdes Castro, François Dufrêne, Barry Le Va, Manoel de Oliveira, Júlio Pomar, Robert Rauschenberg, Paula Rego and Alvaro Siza. He has organised and curated exhibitions such as the Portuguese representation of the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995), the 24th Art Biennale of São Paulo (2003) and, along with Vicente Todolí, Circa 1968 (1999) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003).

Isabella Maidment is Assistant Curator, Performance at Tate Modern where she works on exhibitions, commissions, acquisitions and displays. She obtained a PhD in History of Art from University College London for a doctoral thesis titled Provisional Realities: Live Art 1951-2015. Together with Catherine Wood, she curates the BMW Tate Live programme which aims to foreground the pivotal role of live experimentation historically, and among contemporary artists working today. She is currently preparing the first of a sequence of ambitious annual Live Exhibitions opening in the spring of 2017.

Aurora Fernández Polanco is Professor of Contemporary Art Theory and History, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Lead Investigator for “Critical Visualities: The Rewriting of Narratives through Images” ( and editor of Re-visiones magazine. Recent published works and curatorship projects include “Escribir, otra forma de montaje”, in Investigación artística y universidad: materiales para un debate, S. Blasco (Ed.), Madrid, Ed. Asimétricas, 2013. Pensar la imagen/Pensar con las imágenes (Ed.), Salamanca, Delirio, 2014. Image(s), mon amour, exhibition and catalogue, Rabih Mroué, CA2M, 2013-11-14. Pending publication: Antepenúltimas cosas. Para una crítica visual del saber solitario, Bilbao, Consonni, 2017.

Luca Frei (Lugano, Switzerland, 1976) is an artist based in Malmö, Sweden. He has had solo exhibitions in venues such as Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin; Kunsthaus Glarus, Glaurs; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; and Lunds Konsthall, Lund. Frei has participated in biennials includingthe 31st Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, 6th Momentum Biennale, Moss, Norway, 12th Cairo Biennial, 3rd Prague Biennial, 9th Istanbul Biennial. Frei has also developed exhibition displays in venues such as Tate Liverpool and Malmö Konsthall in collaboration with artists such as Falke Pisano in LC In The Bijlmer, a project on Lygia Clark, and Will Holder in Keywords.

Carla Zaccagnini (Buenos Aires, 1973) is an artist based in Malmö and São Paulo. Recent group shows include So You Want to See (e-Flux, New York, 2015), Un Nouveau festival: Playground (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2015), Really Useful Knowledge (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2014) and 8th Berlin Biennale (Berlin, 2014). Recent solo shows include Elements of Beauty (FirstSite / Van Abbemuseum / MASP, Colchester / Eindhoven / São Paulo, 2015) and Pelas Bordas (Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, 2013). Her work was featured in Cream 3 (London: Phaidon Press, 2003) and Art Cities of the Future, 21st-Century Avant-Gardes (London: Phaidon Press, 2013) and is represented by Galeria Vermelho (São Paulo).

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