25%. Catalonia at Venice

Art , Contemporary art
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25%. Catalonia at Venice
©La Caixeta Fotogràfica

When I heard about it for the first time, I frowned. Eight unemployed people choose an object from their everyday life and a piece of art in the permanent collection at the MACBA. The process is photographed in the people's homes by Francesc Torres, whose idea it was. When the same contributors get to the MACBA, film-maker Mercedes Álvarez is on hand to shoot the second phase. Finally everything is exhibited: photos of the unemployed, the object they chose, the art they chose from the museum, and the film of the process.

Why '25%'? Because that's the percentage of unemployed. 'Again with the exploitation of social criticism,' I said to myself, 'an experiment using the disadvantaged and calling it art.' But lest we forget that Francesc Torres is behind all this, a man with exquisite taste and a background in the conceptual and a man of exquisite taste, less harsh than Muntadas and more incisive than Eugenia Balcells ...

The conceptual finesse is extraordinary: it draws a parallel between concepts such as the labour market and the art market, job value and artistic value, the value of use and of change. We monetize everything, even affection. And this show, wrapped in a cold hard percentage, reveals the underlying humanity. Eight people tell their personal story, and we can identify with them. They choose a work of art from the same perspective that they have chosen an object from their home, for strictly personal and non-quantifiable reasons. It's art that goes beyond theories, prices, schools ...

There are many ways to access art. When Francis Picabia inaugurated an exhibition on paintings of machines in Barcelona in the early 1920s, a society woman asked him the meaning behind the compositions, admitting that she didn't understand. 'Do you like omelettes?' Picabia asked her. 'Yes,' she replied, puzzled. 'Now do you understand?'

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