Que en sap la historia

What does history know of nail-biting? Troquel

Francesc Torres / Santiago Ydáñez
Exhibition 31.10.2017 - 14.01.2018

Level 2

This exhibition proposes a dialogue between two artists from highly distinct generations and two projects created using completely different techniques. On one hand, Francesc Torres presents us with a video installation stemming from unpublished film and photographic material from the University of New York library donated by Harry Randall, a photographer and cameraman for the Lincoln Brigade, an outfit of American volunteers who travelled to Spain to defend the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. The footage was filmed during 1937 and 1938, featuring several war fronts - Central Region (Guadalajara), Terol and the Ebre river-, with the appearance of relevant figures, such as Ernest Hemingway, journalist Martha Gellhorn and Vladimir Copic, commander of the 15th Brigade, to which the Lincoln Brigade was deployed.

On the other hand, Santiago Ydáñez, having previously revised historical periods such as Nazism, presents us with a series of large-format paintings that depict, expand upon and delve deeper into specific moments of the aforementioned video documentary.

Until now, Francesc Torres’ video installation had been shown independently at various museums, such as The Davis Museum of Wellesley College, Massachusetts USA, 2015 and Museo de Teruel, 2016.

On the occasion of this new presentation, Torres requested that Ydáñez create a new project also based on Harry Randall’s unpublished video documentary. This fact grants the project an entirely new dimension, due to the fact that the duplicity of viewpoints on a single historical source transforms the end result in accordance with the specific art form employed by each artist. Torres uses video, photography and found objects; Ydáñez focuses exclusively on painting, interpreted as a translation of static moments from the film in a removed, immediate and almost conceptual way.

From the very beginning, Torres approaches the source material with utmost respect. The artist himself explains: “I decided to show the footage in its entirety, exactly as it was, outtakes and all. I didn’t want to destroy the feel of those fascinating images as a clinically pure historical find. I wanted to preserve the dichotomy between linear, historical time and the dreamlike, disorganised time of myth and memory which coexist within the frames of Randall’s film. That’s how memory works. What I did was add my own footage, recorded at the same locations as a counterpoint to the original in order to tie everything into our amnesic and alienated present that ignores its own history”.

Ydáñez’s approach differs greatly, drawing not from the harshness of the source material, but from the exact distance granted by the still and isolated aesthetic of a longer space-time account (that of the film). A distance amplified through the act of painting itself, ultimately creating a new reality, a new standpoint from which to address history.


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Original idea: Glòria Picazo

Curators: Francesc Torres and Santiago Ydáñez

Organised by: Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona) and Centre d’Art La Panera (Lleida)

In collaboration with: Museo de Teruel and Newhouse Center for the Humanities (Wellesley)