Enrique Vila-Matas writes his biography in the form of an exhibition | Culture


When to the writer Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, ​​1948) came the unusual proposal to curate an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London from the collection of more than a thousand works of contemporary art of the "la Caixa" Foundation, the only method that seemed to him feasible not to be eternal with the selection was to be guided by his intuition. "Before a work of art, we usually react in two ways: either we are attracted or we reject it. I chose the ones that attracted me powerfully in an unconscious way, "he explained yesterday. Only after having chosen the six pieces that make up Amateur Cabinet, an oblique novel (which can be visited until April 28) understood the link that bound them together: "All are part of my literary biography, are related to a thread of the past."

In your selection it fits Petite (2001), a video installation of his great friend Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, or the video art piece The respiratory lesson (2001), by the Spanish Dora García, that Vila-Matas describes as "a reflection on obedience." There are landscapes at ground level, as in Une poignée de terre (1989), by Miquel Barceló, and from a bird's eye view, as in the manipulated photography by Andreas Gursky Theben, West (1993). The self-portrait of Carlos Pazos is also exhibited Milonga (1980), hand-colored photograph that for Vila-Matas symbolizes something special: "The end of the party of my own generation," he says. But it is I. G. (1993), a female nude on the back of Gerhard Richter, who considers central in this "amateur cabinet": "My work is a reflection on literature and his painting asks about the art of painting. Also, it reminds me of how I started to be a writer, always with my back to the public ".

The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title that includes, among other texts, a new literary experiment of Vila-Matas that exerts at the same time of catalog, fiction and reflection of the author about the deep connections that are woven between his work and artistic creation: "I think there are many very pretentious curators who think that what they choose is practically theirs. They are like those editors who believe that the work they publish has been written by them. And I'm going to distance myself from this position; the works are of the authors, never of the curator ".

In the coming months, Vila-Matas will hand over the baton to three other writers, Maria Fusco, Tom McCarthy and Valeria Luiselli, who will carry out their own selection of works and, in response to it, create a new literary fiction. Art calls art in an "unprecedented" initiative, in the words of Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel, center of the very hipster East of London which is also the only place in the United Kingdom where the Guernica of Picasso, in 1939.

In April, Vila-Matas will publish in Seix Barral his new novel, which will be titled This senseless fog. While waiting for that moment, he threw the glove at anyone who dares to fill in "the gaps" of this "oblique novel" that is his first show as a curator: "We'll see who does it, but I think it can only be me. We will continue investigating. "

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