Documents 15. Homage to Guy Schraenen

For Another Approach to Art History

Thursday, 20 February 2020 - 6:30pm
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and Library 


Force line:


Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía

The Documents programme, which explores the relationships between art and publishing, and other subjects that include the effects of archive on narratives of art history, the artist’s book and publishing as an artistic practice, pays homage in this edition to Guy Schraenen (1941–2018). As a critic, collector, curator and editor, he was a pivotal figure in the conception and dissemination of the book as an artistic medium from the 1970s onwards.  

Multi-faceted and inexhaustible, his initiatives, centred on the artist’s book and independent publishing, bear a relation to those by other critics and producers such as Lucy Lippard and Seth Siegelaub; a whole generation which, through paradigms such as dematerialisation in art, the expansion of writing, art as idea, and the attack on the “white cube” and the orthodox exhibition room, defined the evolution of contemporary art.

Schraenen advised the Library and Documentation Centre in creating the Museo Reina Sofía’s collection of artist’s books, multiples and sound work, and he was a regular contributor with the institution until his death in 2018.

As a result, Documents 15, in the form of a lay memorial, brings together different voices from art criticism, curatorship and artistic and editorial production to pay homage to his life and intellectual undertakings. The subtitle to this encounter, For Another Approach to Art History, is in reference to a text by Schraenen and summarises the latter stages of his far-reaching career.  

The activity will be followed by the opening of the documentary exhibition Kontakt with Guy Schraenen. Artists’ Publications, Sound, Films, and More, organised by the Museo’s Library and Documentation Centre.


Maike Aden is an art historian and musicologist from Germany. Her work focuses on twentieth-century art history and theory through music and sound. She has devoted her studies to artists like Ulises Carrión and Bas Jan Ader, among others, and, most recently, is curator of the exhibition Disonata. Art in Sound Until 1980 (Museo Reina Sofía, 17 June – 8 November 2020).  

Bettina Brach is a curator at the Centre for Artists' Publications, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art (Bremen, Germany), which holds one of the biggest international collections of artist’s books, multiples, books objects, ephemera, art and sound recordings. Its holdings also notably include the archive of Small Press & Communication, the publishing house founded by Anne and Guy Schraenen in 1974.  

Emanuele Carcano is the founder of Alga Marghen, a record label specialised in music and sounds from twentieth-century avant-garde art.

Katarzyna Cytlak is an art historian from Poland based in Buenos Aires and Poznan. Her research focuses on artistic production and exchanges in Central Europe and Latin America in the second half of the 20th century, with her main concerns encompassing conceptual art, radical and utopian architecture, socially committed art and the theory of art in relation to post-socialist countries.  

Mela Dávila specialises in documentation and contemporary art and her research is centred on art archives, artists’ publications, bibliographical collections and other related fields. From 2015 to 2017, she was director of Public Activities at Museo Reina Sofía after directing the Museu d’Art Contemporani (MACBA) Study and Documentation Centre in Barcelona, from 2006 to 2012, where she was previously in charge of the Publications Department.  

João Fernandes is director of the Moreira Salles Institute in Brazil. He was director of Museo Serralves from 2003 to 2012 and deputy director of Museo Reina Sofía from 2012 until 2019. Throughout his career he has curated numerous exhibitions, including Pessoa. All Art Is a Form of Literature (Museo Reina Sofía, 2018), Luciano Fabro (Museo Reina Sofía, 2014–2015) and Cildo Meireles (Museo Reina Sofía, 2013).

Manuel Fontán del Junco is a doctor of philosophy and between 1995 and 2005 he directed three Instituto Cervantes offices in Europe — Bremen, Lisbon and Naples. Since January 2006 he has served as director of exhibitions at Fundación Juan March, and has organised a wide range of shows on modern and contemporary art, for instance the recent Listening with the Eyes. Sound Art in Spain 1961–2016 (2016).  

José Iges is an artist and composer. From 1985 to 2008 he directed the programme Ars Sonora (Radio Clásica-RNE). In his solo work, or with artist Concha Jerez, he carries out installations, performances, concerts, radio pieces, videos and graphic art work. He has also conducted lectures, courses and workshops on sound art.  

Lilijana Stepančič is director of the International Centre of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana (MGLC, Slovenia), a museum housing modern and contemporary art prints, based on the collection of the Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, which was founded in 1955, the same year as documenta in Kassel. The centre also possesses a distinguished collection of artist’s books, ephemera and posters.   

Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven and Danny Devos are two artists from Belgium whose practices include performance and body art. In 1981, they founded the art initiative and noise band Club Moral. Their artistic concerns lie in the study of criminality and violence, the representation of women in the media, the exploration of the subconscious and the search for the obscene from a female perspective. 


Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 – 6:30pm

Presented by Manuel Borja-Villel, director of Museo Reina Sofía

With interventions by:
Emanuele Carcano. Listening to Art, Distributing Sounds
José Iges. Sounds in Freedom
Katarzyna Cytlak. Guy Schraenen without Borders: An Agent of Transatlantic and Trans-European Artistic Networks
Manuel Fontán del Junco. Eight Things I Learned from Guy Schraenen
Mela Dávila. The Artist’s Book Is an Artwork, the Archive an Artistic Concept (Video Intervention)
Lilijana Stepancic. Guy Schraenen and the International Centre of Graphic Arts
Bettina Brach. Guy Schraenen in Bremen: the Idea of “A Museum inside a Museum”
João Fernandes. Dear Reader. Don’t Read. Notes from Two Artist’s Book Collections
Maike Aden. A Foreigner Abroad

Closing concert
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven and Danny Devos. The Casual Encounter of Patty Hearst and Kurt Cobain in Planet of the Apes

Nouvel Building, Library, Space D – 8:30pm

Opening of the documentary exhibition Kontakt with Guy Schraenen. Artists’ Publications, Sound, Films, and More