You know how everyone thinks they can coach their favourite football team better than the actual coach? Well, I'm the same with exhibitions at the MACBA. They're now showing the first of a trilogy where they take a look at the works from the museum's collection from the 1980s, and as I walk among the halls, my inner curator is screaming out, 'No! Man-to-man marking, forget zone defence! ... Kippenberger up front? He’s better on the wing! ... Valldosera is still very green, better loan him out for another season, and so on, and so on.
Ah, the '80s, the age of disenchantment. After Kennedy and Pope John XXII, it was Reagan, John Paul II and the punks. And after the death of the bogeyman, the dictator Francisco Franco, Spain witnessed the birth of modern artistic and cultural institutions. Artists who had once criticised the system would no longer lift a finger without some kind of subsidy… But the MACBA sees it differently. The collection is the home country, in the form of a handy Kleenex, used in a provocative revision of history. It’s a history with a revolutionary backdrop, in which the working classes armed themselves with dance music, Basque rock, fanzines and appropriation.
Organised around familiar themes like 'the sacred and the profane' and 'the body and its inverse', the works on show form the basis of lengthy essays. You can read them or not. And this changes the effect. Carlos Pazos’s installation could be a jumble of references, or a secret semiotic drama, and Humberto Rivas’s photographs of the drag artist Violeta la Burra, a violation of the social norms of the body.
My internal manager prefers to let his imagination run riot, and not read the labels – the critic however, does – and wander through the INTERFACEs (1977) of Richard Hamilton and Dieter Roth, remembering what great artists they were, these two adoptive residents of Cadaqués, or to discover how Antonio Beneyto – who you might bump into on C/Ferran with a book under his arm – portrayed punk goddess Nina Hagen (1982). How times change!