The National Prize of Plastic Arts 2007 , has created for the MUSAC in León, Spain, a project called “In a Dawn all Charms Decay”, a sort of “premature urbanization” comprising a series of drawings and documents created over twenty years ago. Made in collaboration with “Agencia de desmontaje”, the work is based on “Sugerencias de un forastero al plan general de León” (An outsider’s suggestions for León’s urban plan), which was presented in 1991 at an art gallery, “Tráfico de Arte”.
“At that moment I imagined the land where the Musac is right now as an amusement park and a wind museum, with a platform-fan so that visitors’ clothes were lifted, as the famous Marilyn Monroe image. I also devised a football field with transparent screens in the football locker for players and television equipped rooms where the referee’s whistle the game.”
On the “before” and “after” he says: “It’s the change of all the cities we know, set in virgin or clearly improbable locations, but then the political or private interests enter and … everything changes for the worse.” Valcárcel Medina proposes new types of distribution or receipt for his art, as happened a century ago with Dada, micromedia in which the spectator is also the protagonist. “This is teasing you and forcing you to become a bit coauthor”.
Extract from exhibition dossier, available here:
Sometimes, newest projects start from older ones. In developing In a Dawn all Charms Decay, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina’s new project conceived specifically for Hall 2 at MUSAC, the artist turned his sights to Sugerencias de un forastero al plan general de León [An outsider’s suggestions for León’s urban plan], his exhibition from 1991 held at Tráfico de Arte, a gallery in León. Both the former exhibition at Tráfico de Arte Gallery in 1991 as well as the new show at MUSAC lay bare, among other issues, the pressing need to create critical spaces from where to think and rethink community life, the uses of public space and the urban development. In materialising the new project Valcárcel Medina brought on board the participation of various collectives in the city of León associated with the ongoing Agencia de desmontaje team.
The 1991 exhibition Sugerencias de un forastero al plan general de León [An outsider’s suggestions for León’s urban plan] consisted of a series of proposals to intervene in different public spaces around the city. The event that led to these suggestions was the decisive political process to draw up the future urban development of the city of León in what was called the PGOU [General Urban Distribution Plan]. Valcárcel Medina’s proposals focused on spaces such as what was then open ground in Eras de Renueva (where the MUSAC is currently located), La Chantría (where a large department stores was finally built), the historic street Cercas (which runs along the former walls of the city), the old football stadium La Puentecilla and the area of La Candamia. The artist proposed and drew up plans for, respectively, a park, an area of urban garden plots, a large underground shopping centre, a space to “assemble together” the city’s public sculptures in the old football stadium and, finally, locating the new stadium in a branch of the river Torío.
Over twenty years later, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina and MUSAC are casting their gaze backwards to that former proposal in order to generate a new project, adding on the left and right of the original drawings plentiful graphic documentation that bears witness to the state of the spaces in question before 1991 (the year of the exhibition) and how they have changed since. And so, through this new project In a Dawn all Charms Decay whose title is taken from a line by the poet Góngora (How in a dawn all charms decay / Less than my shadow doomed to be, / Who was a wonder yesterday!), the artist confronts the beholder with a time lapse based on three times and three possibilities: the time and reality prior to 1991, the changes and suggestions that the artist put forward that year, and afterwards what was finally built in these neighbourhoods of the city.
Besides giving an account of the interesting programme of contemporary art exhibitions at Tráfico de Arte, a gallery directed by Carlos de la Varga, this new show underscores the social and political aspects already underlying the initial project and, at the same time, it addresses issues such as: the city’s current relationship with its urban development, the construction of public space and its private and institutional uses, the public and private functions of domestic archives, the construction of local and contextual narratives and mythologies by means of situated practices, the reconstruction of collective imaginaries engaged with neighbourhoods in the city, plots of open ground understood as spaces free from regulation, utopias, heritage, the weight of architecture combined with a bullish economy, or community participation as a form of agency and empowerment.
With a view to developing the project In a Dawn all Charms Decay anddue to the large number of graphic documents required, MUSAC, inagreement with Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, has brought on board theparticipation of various community groups to compile photos and other graphic documents, through the mediation of a team of heterogeneous collaborators, permeable and open to the participation of individuals and of neighbourhood groups from León, as well as its various social agents. This team, which calls itself Agencia de desmontaje, is made up of Natalia Castro, an expert in community participation, Jesús Redondo and Abel Morán, both photographers and documentalists, Alfredo Puente, curator and cultural manager, and Belén Sola, head of MUSAC’s Education & Cultural Action Dept.
The members of Agencia de desmontaje have been working together since June 2013 generating community participation channelled through a series of different actions: recovering images of the areas addressed by Isidoro Valcárcel Medinabefore and after 1991, locating and mapping “active spaces/settings” in the city, investigating and drawing up proposals to sustain or expand the work on the city of León and its civic discourse or generating critical methodologies to create relationships with various sectors of the general public, among others.
The varied and heterogeneous graphic materials compiled are displayed alongside the plans drawn by the artist in 1991. Through them, the clash between reality and desire—or, what is basically the same, between what was, what could have been and what is—corroborates the need to generate critical spaces from where to think and rethink community life precisely at a time when a large part of the citizenry is being mobilised to generate new formats and mechanisms of participation in the public sphere and space.
“In a Dawn all Charms Decay” by Isidoro Valcárcel Medina
24 January, 2015 – 3 May, 2015
Musac. Avda. Reyes Leoneses, 24.
24003, León. T. 987 090 000
Curatorship: Manuel Olveira
Coordination: Eneas Bernal
Work in cooperation with: Agencia de desmontaje.