Interview with Tony Shafrazi
New York, 2019
Tony Shafrazi (Abadan, Iran, 1943), artist and art dealer. To the backdrop of the Vietnam War and its political and social impact in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, Shafrazi explains the reasons behind his 1974 action protest against an anti-war icon such as Guernica.
Interview with Claude Picasso
Claude Ruiz Picasso (Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1947), artist, film-maker and son of Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot. In this interview, Claude Picasso offers his view of the process to transfer Guernica to Spain following the death of his father in 1973: the conflictive relationship with Roland Dumas, executor of the artist’s will, his family’s grievance over the moral right of the work, and its installation in the Museo Reina Sofía.
Interview with Roland Dumas
Roland Dumas (Limoges, France, 1922), lawyer, politician and executor of Pablo Picasso’s will. Dumas was in charge of drafting the artist’s will with respect to Guernica, guaranteeing that both the painting and its preparatory works would only reach Spain once public liberties representative of democratic States were reinstated, and regardless of government.
The work of Marwan Rechmaoui (Beirut, 1964) is strongly tied to concerns, which surfaced among artists of his generation, with archiving and documenting the contemporary history of his country after the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). His work, primarily sculpture, is the product of experimentation with materials from the urban environment — concrete, plastic, rubber — and stems from long processes of research, whereby the artist vindicates maps as a tool for deconstructing meanings.
In this interview, Rechmaoui brings to light the importance of configuring urban space, symbolically, socially and politically, in our interpretation of the past. He plots a journey around pieces inspired by Beirut’s complex urbanism, such as Blue Building (2015), which is part of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection and which examines rampant urban development in a city carrying the memory of successive earthquakes, fires and wars. His installations, moreover, record the history of a city permanently being reconstructed and subjected to constant tensions, such as those resulting from the revolution which, in response to neoliberal policies over the past few decades, occupy Lebanon’s squares today.
There Is Nothing to Understand Here
A documentary on Elena Asins
The Museo Reina Sofía premieres an internally produced online documentary on the artist Elena Asins, resulting from research into the artist’s archive conducted over a two-year period, and assembling unpublished documents and unprecedented interpretations around one of the key figures in geometric abstraction and art as research since 1960.
Directed by Javi Álvarez and Olga Sevillano, the piece also features the participation of Gorka Alda, José Luis Alexanco, Sofía Barroso, Manuel Borja-Villel, Capi Corrales, Ignacio Gómez de Liaño, Luis Gordillo, Juan José Lasarte, Javier Maderuelo, Soledad Sevilla and Ian Triay.
The artistic production of Miriam Cahn (Basel, Switzerland, 1949) materialises with a strong influence from 1960s feminist and pacifist movements. For the artist, her work with drawing and painting is a bodily act with a performative quality, and since the start of her career in the 1970s the centrality of the body has been related to a growing awareness of feminism. For Cahn, art is politics and the imprint of issues related to contemporary society can be discerned in her oeuvre. Each gesture, movement and thought is “just as important” as the rest. The breadth of her work is traversed by her interest in important issues: feminist defence, war, violence, sexuality, family and death.
Moreover, the artist alludes to intersections and connections with the work Pablo Picasso produced during the Spanish Civil War. During the Yugoslav Wars, the media showed images of concentration camps, torture, and the rape of women and girls… their faces expressing the pain that made her think of the weeping women in Picasso’s work. Works that recount ethnic clashes between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia or the media’s use of contemporary armed conflicts as a spectacle.Inside the framework of:
Since the start of her career, Natalia Iguiñiz (b. Lima, 1973) has worked in close connection with different women’s collectives and feminist movements in her country. In this interview, she analyses issues that include how her projects approach the way in which the containment of women’s sexual and reproductive rights creates major tensions in the cultural and social context of Peru. Both in her solo work and as part of different artists’ collectives — with Sandro Venturo in La Perrera (The Kennel), or alongside Claudia Coca, and others, in Colectivo Sociedad Civil (Civil Society Collective) — her practice as a poster artist has evolved towards a more direct, first-person intervention in the city’s public space as she reflects on themes such as gender identity, violence against women, political denunciation during Alberto Fujimori’s term of office and inequality in civil society.Inside the framework of:
Interview with Luis Camnitzer
The work and thinking of Luis Camnitzer (Lübeck, Germany, 1937) is anchored in a comprehensive ethical awareness, which for this US-based Uruguayan artist gives meaning to artistic creation in his social context.
In his 1987 essay “Access to the Mainstream”, Camnitzer writes: “We’re primarily ethical beings who can tell right from wrong, fair from unfair, not only as individuals but in community contexts (…) Art becomes the instrument of choice for implementing these strategies.”
This interview looks over Camnitzer’s main ideas of Conceptualism, going back to the radicalism of his early work with the New York Graphic Workshop (NYGW) collective – grounded in ephemeral, word-based works – and elicits general reflections on his artistic mediums and the concepts of ethics and education that are patently linked to his creative activity. A special section is devoted to the idea of violence and a key work, Puerto Montt Massacre (1969), which belongs to the Museo’s Collection. In the work, Camnitzer approaches political content through signs, words and geometry, placing the spectator inside the work so that, rather than passively consuming it, they are forced to experiment in the “field of knowledge”.
Interview with Lotty Rosenfeld
Lotty Rosenfeld, a visual artist and founder of the group C.A.D.A. (Art Actions Collective), along with artist Juan Castillo, sociologist Fernando Balcells, poet Raúl Zurita and novelist Diamela Eltit, discusses the group’s origins and its development during the years of Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Its works were based on the reformulation of the mechanisms of artistic production and framed inside counter-institutional practice, while the use of direct action in public space as a tool for redefining the conditions of its creative participation defined the group and the individual work of some of its members. Emblematic works such as Para no morir de hambre en el arte (Not to Die of Hunger in Art, 1979) and No + (No More, 1983–1989) went beyond the artistic sphere, coming to form part of the collective imaginary in Latin America. Rosenfeld also analyses the notion of archive and her solo work, both individually and as part of feminist groups in Chile.
Interview with Dora García
In this interview, Dora García (Valladolid, Spain, 1965) draws from different works in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection to reflect on her work from its starting point, with themes such as narrative, infinite writing, performance and psychoanalysis shaping a coherent and continuous world. The artist analyses her use of the book as an object and repository of stories, and, by way of literary and psychoanalytical references, from James Joyce and Freud to Lacan, she discusses the transformation of reading and text production into collective actions. Similarly, she explores the key strands running through debates on performance: how to document and transmit it and questioning the classical idea of impossibility associated with its repetition, present in her approach to the works and writings of Allan Kaprow and Óscar Masotta. She also focuses on the damned artist, the notion of the anti-hero and the inappropriate to define a way of approaching reality through fiction.
Rethinking Guernica is a website based on over two years’ research and compiles and presents materials related to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, the painting, which currently hangs in the Museo Reina Sofía, the artist produced for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1937.
Envisaged as an archive of archives and made up of more than 2,000 documents from 120 public and private archives and national and international agencies, the website is a tool of open knowledge that is constantly evolving. Holding a prominent place on Rethinking Guernica is the Gigapixel study of the work. By applying cutting-edge technology to the knowledge, analysis and conservation of artistic heritage, the study groups together and arranges a broad number of images of the picture.