Exhibitions - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

7th July to 31st December 2007
This new presentation of the MACBA Collection is related to the A Theatre without Theatre temporary exhibition and develops some aspects not addressed in that production; it highlights the notion of theatricality in Spain and constitutes a chronological continuation of the piece: 1989 marks the end of A Theatre without Theatre, while the exhibition of the MACBA Collection brings the story up to date.
The MACBA Collection display places emphasis on four fundamental aspects. In the first place, the works presented in the Capella reflect the theatricality of a certain modernity based on reinterpretations carried out from a position of constructivist abstraction – especially in the work of Jorge Oteiza – made by, on the one hand, such artists as Txomin Badiola and, on the other, Jon Mikel Euba.
While A Theatre without Theatre reflects the influence of theatre in the world of art and how the notion of theatricality has altered our perception of artistic work, a second aspect analysed by the Collection is the theatrical content that originates in the world of art, an aspect which includes both the grotesque, as well as the Karneval notion developed by Batkin. In this area we find works by Jeff Wall, Ulrike Ottinger and Miralda, among others.
As Karneval led to the alteration of dominant social structures and promoted their eventual transformation, it is logical to assume that this concept is intrinsically linked to the city and to public space understood as a theatre in which social rivalries are settled. This third aspect appears for instance in Waiting for Tear Gas (1999-2000) by Allan Sekulla, and Monte Casino from the North… (2001) by David Goldblatt. But among all these theatrical aspects there is another, a fourth, which is related to language and the alteration and interrelation of images and texts, which is also reflected in this exhibition of the MACBA Collection. Outstanding examples of this are to be found in the works of Joan Brossa and Perejaume.

25th May to 11th September 2007
A Theatre Without Theatre examines the relationships and interchanges between the theatre and the visual arts during the 20th century. Starting out from the theories expounded by Vsevolod Meyerhold, Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett and Tadeusz Kantor, among others, which profoundly transformed the classic theatre space, and their correspondence with historic avant-garde movements (Futurism, Dadaism and Constructivism), a story is structured that finds its point of inflection in the inventive fervour of the 1960s. This was a time in which numerous contrasts were formulated between the two disciplines that continued up to the late eighties. The exhibition presents a critical reading of the consequences of these contributions to art by highlighting paradigmatic moments and authors through itineraries that reconstruct a complex fabric going beyond the linear, chronological reading; from Hugo Ball and Dadaism to Mike Kelley, from Oskar Schlemmer to Dan Graham, from Minimalism to the post-Minimalist generations of artists such as Bruce Nauman and James Coleman.
Reflection on the influences of theatrical language in art is today revealed as an essential tool with which to interpret a wide range of artistic proposals and attitudes. In this sense, the works presented in the exhibition analyse the different degrees of evolution in the forms of relationship between actor and spectator, their role interchanges and spatial negotiations, the presence of narrative and thus of orality, and revision of the document statute. The exhibition reflects the constant mutual interaction between popular expressions and those originating in high culture, from cabaret to opera, rock and roll to dance, street theatre to performance and the carnival parade to ritual.
As the 20th century seems to have constructed a visual culture dominated by the paradigm of film, an appeal for the theatre to take centre stage may seem anachronistic. But it is the theatre, considered as a craft, which offers us a new prism through which to approach a rereading of the history of recent art.
The exhibition is organised along two essential lines. The first focuses on artistic attitudes that take the performative as a fundamental part of their practice. This requires the assimilation of "real time", the multiple aspects of action and the ephemeral, together with recovery of elements of event culture, street parties and popular music.
The second line addresses the debate arising out of criticism of the autonomy of the artwork and its perceptive conventions by Minimalist art – renunciation of "visuality" as the sole category of creation of meaning, and the notion of artwork as "instrument". The pieces confront each other over the notion of theatricality –the construction of space, the stage and the duration of the experience, the significance of text and the need for a new attitude on the part of the public, often addressed directly, always interrogated in the act of perceiving.
These two lines of investigation in no way set out to restrict the possible spectrum of effects in relation to the theatrical in contemporary art. Rather, they invite reflection on the place of the subject in contemporary society and on the links between sensitive experience and action, as one of the transversal lines that run through the entire exhibition.

< back to Museum's profile