Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Beings of Light - an installation created by Marisol Cavia

I have to say that every new artwork that Marisol creates, invariably involve the use of, and hence the purchase of something unusual. In the past she has required rat traps (sourced in an Indian market), hair pieces that weighed more than twenty kilos each (sourced in China) and thousands of sewing needles (also obtained in China). By the nature of where she obtained these items, they had to find their way to her studio through transportation on planes, in the luggage, and it is uncertain what the customs authorities would have made of them had they made careful examination of the luggage that contained these items.
In the latest work from Marisol, called Beings of Light, she has once again opted for the use of some equally unusual components. Rubbing shoulders with photographs and textile is a child's pram and a translucent balloon of  serious size. She describes the work as a representation of the aura that emanates from and surrounds all beings. The work was created to be exhibited in Leon, and she has stated that the inspiration of this work came from the colours and light that one sees inside the Cathedral of Leon, when the sun shines through the spectacular coloured glass windows of the Cathedral.

She explains that the aura which she has captured through the use of a program that processes images (of people who agreed to have their images included) snapped through a digital camera, appears in the form of all kinds of colours which change as our feelings and thoughts change. The colours are associated with characteristics which are often described in works on the topic of aura, and the installation shows many of these aura photographs together with a display of the characteristics for some of the colours.
The installation is in two parts displayed side by side. The first part depicts the aura of a newborn child and it shows a pram from which a white balloon emerges which has associations with pregnancy and childbirth as well as the emerging aural energy which being white represents purity and innocence. The balloon is back lit from the recesses of the pram which gives the piece its 'light'. The second part consists of the photographs of adult auras which are displayed captured in glass jars, whose covers give off halos generated by the clever use of lighting. There is a digital display of photographs as a slideshow and a cloth that has been covered in a variety of colours with words describing the characteristics of each colour. A brief explanation informs the viewer that the colours used come from the Hindu festival of  Holi, which is a celebration of life and is held the springtime in India.
In Leon at the well known Vela Zanetti Gallery, her installation formed part of an exhibition of work by a group of London based Spanish Artists known as SAL (which stands for Spanish Artists in London). Needless to say the pram and all the elements of the installation had to be transported to Leon from her studio in Laredo, about two hundred miles away. Later the same exhibition was moved to Laredo at the Sala Ruas, for which all the work in Leon had to be packed into the back of a small car. It helped that we had experience of travelling on Ryanair and often had to pack our cases with careful use of space.
Public response to her work has been interesting, since this kind of conceptual art is not so common in the communities where it was shown. People of all ages made positive comments. Young people found the use of the unusual materials intriguing, while adults appreciated that the work was different from the traditional view of 'art' and that one had to think about the concept to grasp its significance fully.
Later this year Marisol has another exhibition planned. If her past work is anything to go by, it should be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Carlos and Liliana come for a short visit

How much can one pack into a single day?
Apparently a lot if you are Carlos and Liliana, who came for a whirlwind visit. They were with us for less than two days, but a catalog of what they managed to squeeze into this time is phenomenal.
They started in Guildford in Surrey, England. They whirled around to Stansted Airport and checked in for a Ryanair flight to Santander. The usual preocupations on a Ryanair flight, overweight, reorganisation of contents of bags to avoid having to fork out exhorbitant amounts of money, rushed to grab a seat and finally arrived in Santander.
We picked them up and we rushed straight to Kiko's birthday bash. Friends, food, wine, dancing and around midnight we headed home and rest. Next morning assembled artworks for the exhibition to be inaugurated later in the evening at the Ruas gallery. Two phone interviews with local radio stations, lunch at the Marine company restaurant, a little rest, then off to start the exhibition. Speeches by politicos, Marisol and the visitors, lots of people on a freezing night, lots of networking and art talk, wine and food, followed by a large group moving to a bar for more wine and tapas. Again arrived home after another late night.
Next morning after breakfast, drove off to Bilbao to take in the Guggenheim museum, a coffee and we said goodbye.
Phew now we can relax for a few hours!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Dreaded sales in the cold climate

There is something quite deceiving about January sales. For one thing its frighteningly cold outside (In Europe at least) and people are looking for any excuse to go into a shop, which may have heating. Secondly there is an animal instinct, probably not fully documented but more pronounced in females of our species, which homes in on any shop whose windows exclaim '50% OFF'  with the words 'upto' and/or 'On selected items' in very small script.
In my case I have the additional problem in the form of my skepticism that famous brands tend to put out 'sale' merchandise which they might not sell normally and hence give their 'sale' prices a look and feel of a bargain. This (skepticism) has grown ever since a Macy's salesman told me that I should not be fooled by the difference between the original and the sale price. I had dared to tell the man that the sale price had seemed comparable to the normal price of the particular product I was interested in. He further confided that in the US no one buys anything unless it was on sale, so Macy's seemed to have sales all year long, with the sale price being what one would find normal.
There are exceptions. Here where we live the small shops that sell clothes and shoes etc have good sales and you can see that the same items which were available before, have now lower prices as part of the sale. Perhaps the sales are more genuine the smaller the outlet. The other day we went into a small Habitat outlet in Bilbao, and sure enough they had some items on sale..but mostly these were out of season items like Xmas cards and small gifts which after the Christmas rush are now going to be not in demand. Fair enough I say, however we now have enough cards for the next two Xmas and New Year cycles and a quantity of small frames to line all the walls of the apartment with photos. Its a bit like having people over for lunch and making so much food that the hosts keep eating for weeks afterwards.
I exaggerate, and recently our lunch guests have absolutely devoured every last bit of the Indian food that Marisol dished up for them. The Indian lunches are becoming a bit of a reputation and all our friends are perhaps waiting for their invitation. The dining room being small this can only happen for a few friends at a time. The ingredients may soon run out and we may have to make a trip to London to stock up again. Perhaps we have to learn a few recipes which only require local ingredients so that we can sleep easy that the Tandoori Chicken Massala is not about to run out!!
Local ingredients are in plentiful supply, since the economic crises has singled out the groceries supermarkets as the one business that is booming. Every conceivable chain of supermarkets now has a big store within a few hundred meters of our home. Some whose owners are freezing up north in Germany and France. How can a population of perhaps ten thousand have so many supermarkets, I ask myself. How much turnover a large buisness needs to have to make it viable?
Lets say that Telco (perhaps a subsidiary of Tesco?) employs twenty people..I would guess that the employee costs are perhaps as much as half a million Euros a year.What would be an employee to turnover ratio? perhaps 10 or 20 or more? A guesstimate would be 5 to 10 million turnover and there are ten of them.
So a total of an average - 75 Millions which means we are spending 7500 per person? An average family is spending 15000 Euros per year on groceries? NO WAY. Even if I got the figures wrong by a factor of 2.
Anyway these are times of crisis, perhaps when the economy improves, these stores will be in a good position to cash in. I doubt that this can be their buisness model.. And we did not count all the small shops like fishmongers, butchers, fruits etc etc.
I am glad I dont have to compete in this sale business, could be depressing to run a business.