Think of June 22, 2020. Five in the afternoon. The first free after the alarm state. The Liceo de Barcelona opens its doors via streaming with a Concert for the biocene. Two thousand two hundred and ninety-two plants listen to a string quartet singing Chrysanthemum, by Puccini, a sad melody that usually sneaks in at funerals. From a duel was born. Puccini composed it one night in 1890 upon learning of the death of Amadeo de Saboya, the fleeting king of Spain, bringing to the title that plant that so symbolizes an end of stage. Eugenio Ampudia thought about it when Víctor García de Gomar called him. They have known each other since the current director of the Liceo officiated at the Palau de la Música, where Ampudia spent a night in 2015 for his series Where to sleep. Soon a project emerged whose image has gone around the world: a vegetable concert that speaks of our condition as spectators and that the artist says distill from everything he has lived through these months ago, when the plants of his house gained ground to life then paralyzed by the pandemic. Behind the idea of the curator, Blanca de la Torre, is to open those criticisms about the Anthropocene so blamed for putting life at the center again: that biocene of the title as a community of disparate species that, despite the difference , cultivate the necessary conditions for survival. Metaphor of a dusty artistic ecosystem, now controversial.
Under a totally different theoretical context, too Perejaume has worked for years with plants, armchairs, botanical sales and biophonies of vegetation. Also with the Lyceum, since it decorated its interior. His idea of filling an audience tree nursery is an image that appears in his texts Pages (2011), action that materialized in Salt (Girona). It was the poster for the 29th edition of the Peralada Festival and in 2006 the NoguerasBlanchard gallery used it to present the artist in his space in Madrid. Last year, as a cherry on top of the CCCB’s Biennial of Thought, a stage piece was presented with a human audience confronted by another forester, and which connected with the book. The public “potser”, first published alongside other texts in 2008 and independently in 2014, about the possibility of trees and plants to be spectators. This has also been transferred to the publicity about the National Auditorium of Catalonia this season: plants as a small forest test. An idea that the small screen has led to its format mainstream during the confinement: the flower pot as a leading star of empty television sets.
Many see in the action of the Lyceum an image of advertising pyrotechnics that would have been more logical and best fortune in the hands of Perejaume. By contrast, others see in the action of Eugenio Ampudia a symbol that functions as a starting point to reformulate a present that is short of breath. To debate, too. Certificates of authenticity of ideas are one of the most slippery and, at the same time, busiest paths in contemporary art. Not even by avoiding it thoroughly can you escape unscathed from that culture of remix that is so pressing in contemporary art. The global context and the avalanche of information help to erase the gap between author and public, and because of that meager limit, the work of art breaks through trying to reflect on all these relationships without claiming originality. There passes a whole generation of artists who make reappropriation a new philosophy, from Angela Bulloch to José Ramón Amondarain. Meanwhile, critical theory reflects on this idea of ”feigned authenticity”, trying to remove the doubts between the copy, the false and the original, something that tradition, from Nietzsche to Adorno, was clear about leaving the “crazy” as soon as possible illusion of truth ”.
The original and the copy look alike but at the same time betray each other. A relationship that, in turn, questions the binary opposites of what is authentic / false, serious / frivolous, necessary / superfluous, universal / specific. Own Olafur Eliasson, who posted on his Instagram the wonders of the reopening of the Lyceum, has been seen in the dilemma of aesthetic casuistry with the colored lights of Feeling Are Facts (2010) and those of Ann Veronica Janssens in Mist Room (1999). Same blue mist and same pink mist. Jeff Koons did a Balloon dog in 1995 and Paul McCarthy rang it in 2005, although his intentionally. Impossible not to think about Perfect Lovers, by Félix González-Torres, when seeing the pairs of watches in the hands of artists such as Dieter Kiessling (1992), Cildo Meireles (1992), Peter Regli (1998), Pedro Torres (2011) or Kendell Geers (2011). Damien Hirst’s platinum skull is well known, but before it was Tàpies who elevated the skull to the category of art (1988). When Barceló installed his elephant standing on its trunk in CaixaForum Madrid in 2010, Daniel Firman had installed it at the Palais de Tokyo in 2008. Almost identical. Fina Miralles was planted as a tree in 1973 while Keith Arnatt planted it in 1969. And before Wilfredo Prieto planted a banana peel in the ground (2006), Olivier Babin did it in 2005 and Adriana Lara in 2008. Later Maurizio Cattelan crowned him at Art Basel.
In that deja vu it’s easy to wonder where the artist is. For Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, publicly saying what is already known is the quintessence of uselessness. Sort of like copying yourself. A creative collision of forces through which an uncomfortable present full of misunderstandings prowls, turning originality, aesthetic value, Internet images, the rejection of authority, the democratization of art, the undermining of authenticity and the creation of authenticity. The Karlsruhe Art Museum reflected on this in 2012 with the largest exhibition to date of this stone in the shoe. The exhibition also entered into this Fake. It is not true, it is not a lie, by José Luis Marzo, at the IVAM (2016), and proposals such as Cristina Garrido’s in Want to look like night (CA2M, 2018), when he put copyist Román Blázquez to paint live the views of the exhibition. A deja vu, in turn, from the Prado Museum and copyists (and artists) such as Antonio Ramírez Ríos, known as the other Velázquez, who died just a month ago. Go these lines as a small tribute.