The structures of art. An interview with Mario García Torres MONTSE BADIA ; 2012

Mario García Torres works with very specific elements (hidden stories, rumours or un-clarified details) from the history of art, film, other artists, events from the past, etc. These investigations transform into stories that can take the form of diaporamas, videos, books, curated exhibitions or postcards, to mention just a few of the possibilities. Underlining a stance between critical and poetic that vindicates the element of the subjective, in the following interview, Mario García Torres talks about the reasons for choosing his formats for production and presentation, his relation with the Internet and the structures of art, and his negotiated comfort with the art system.

Montse Badia: In your projects there is a diversity regarding forms of production/presentation/distribution. I’m thinking of two examples: “Alguna vez has visto la nieve caer” (Have you ever seen snow) (2010), a piece in which, on the one hand, all the research into Hotel One and Kabul has been carried out from your home computer, via the Internet, without the need to travel to Afghanistan, and on the other, the interesting feature that it is a diaporama, that could also function as a narrative. Another case: is your exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, where you intervened in the bookshop, inserting postcards into some of the books. I would like to know how you decide the form or channel for presentation that you use for each one of your pieces. 

Mario García Torres: My practice is not defined by my commitment or development of a medium. Each project has a distinct nature and the medium in which each aesthetic transaction is distributed is governed, in my point of view, by being the most efficient depending on its nature. My work in general explores the structures of art and the way in which these structures make possible this thing that we call art. My approach ranges from historical investigations into the practice of other artists to personal and intimate reflections about the negotiation of my practice in the art system. As you mentioned, "Alguna vez..." and the intervention in the bookshop at the Jeu de Paume are very different in nature. The first is the result of a long investigation –it is worth noting one not done exclusively on the computer– into the history of Boetti in Afghanistan, and specifically the hotel that he managed in Kabul during the seventies. The intervention in the Jeu de Paume was the extension of another project – the ones that I call more personal, intimate and immediate, the majority of which take place in the studio – one that I have now been doing for several years. It consists of each time I go on a work trip and find myself in a hotel where there are sheets of headed notepaper, I sit down for a moment and reflect about what I have done as an artist, as well as the future of my work, and I write a promise on the paper. It is more or less always the same phrase, a version of: “ I promise to give the best of myself in the years to come”. There must be forty or fifty of these sheets in existence and the project that continues today, consists of a collection of these promises. This project exists as I’ve described it, but also in a musical form – the explanation of the project became the words for a song that I commissioned from a musician friend, Mario López Landa – and a number of postcards, illustrating the modes of transport (airplanes, boats, buses) that had taken me to work, on which I had written the same phrase were distributed in the bookshop of the Jeu de Paume. I aimed for the discovery of these postcards to be a surprise, and not on the wall as is customary, in the way that the headed sheets are exhibited.


MB: To investigate the structures of art sometimes you develop projects, books or curate exhibitions. In the case of the show "Objetos para un rato de inercia" (Objects for a moment of inertia), that took place in the Elba Benítez gallery in Madrid and which brought together works by David Askevold, Alighiero e Boetti, Luis Camnitzer, Barry Le Va and Francesc Torres. The declaration of principles was clear: "History, despite its insistence on the contrary, pertains to the present. History is always being made. It is a process not a result. History, and the writing of History, are one and the same thing." Is it a way of activating propositions that took place in the past, of which only the record or narrations are left? Do the historic investigations serve to understand the present better? 

MGT: Definitely. If it wasn´t for the fact that I believe that each historic narrative, that I use as an excuse to generate another narrative, didn´t have an impact on our contemporaneity their wouldn´t be any reason to use them. In this sense, my initiatives are a conversation between my personal interests, with the understanding that I do them through a subjectivity that is situated in the present, as well as an interest in the more complex range of art that makes it possible for my work to exist. In this sense, it’s not just me as a person that activates these narratives, but a more complex system that supports the need for this revision.

MB: Your works function perfectly as stories, you meticulously investigate events, details about other artists’ projects, rumours and from there elaborate a history, a story in which the objective data and your interpretation coexist, sometimes endowed with a certain poetics. What is your stance in relation to more recent art history, to what is told, what is omitted and what is very superficially explained?

MGT: My pieces are very personal narratives that have to do with sharing my own experiences, desire or interest in a specific history. In this sense I see it as a way of making history, though very different from the one that pretends to tell the truth. Perhaps my narratives function as complements to those more official ones, as it is these details that are omitted that, most of the time, catch my attention.

MB: What is your working methodology?

MGT: When a piece is exhibited, a long time has passed from the moment when the episode in question excited me. The majority of times I begin an investigation, not very methodologically, about something that interests me and afterwards, at some point, I see the potential for it to convert into something that would be interesting to recount more publicly. The majority of times I rely on these things that have drawn my attention, the notes in a box on my desk and, little by little, different invitations end up also defining which ones are made and presented in specific temporal or geographic situations.

MB: What are the main points of confluence and also differences between your role as an artist and when you expand it on occasion to become curator of exhibitions?

MGT: To me there don’t seem to be that many differences. I am an artist, and my interventions as a curator have to do with looking for a different way of sharing my interests. Sometimes it can seem more to the point to make an exhibition that tells the story in a more personal manner, hence the exhibitions. But in reality I see it all as a single body of work.

MB: You often cite works or parts of work that are already made to begin your own process. Would you allow your works also to become the object of citations, appropriations, re-enactments or revisions?

MGT: It would be an honour if somebody one day saw them this way, and would continue these narratives, in whatever manner, to know that in some place in the world someone might continue to be interested. In the end, one works just for this to find people who have similar interests. I think that in the end my work comes down to this.

MB: Are you concerned about the notion of truth? Do you think that truth is possible in art?

MGT: No, I have absolutely no interest.

MB: What is your relation with the Internet, for you, is it a tool for research, communication or dissemination?

MGT: Obviously it is always my first point of contact with a subject and many times it leads me to investigate things in a less methodological way, a richer way. It situates normal people, everyday people, at the same level as books and official sources. Internet is present all the time, and I don´t blame it for often being wrong. I like it. What better way to divert an investigation towards something contradictory or further from the truth. It is there that one finds relations that potentially become something interesting, in the weaving of a new way of telling a story.

MB: Many of the works that you make at present could be disseminated perfectly via the Internet however they tend to be shown within the parameters of the institution. Have you ever thought about sometimes using the possibility of other routes to show and distribute your work?

MGT: I’ve never thought about it in depth. I believe that in the end I’m interested in the experiential part of art however contradictory that might seem. The use of films and slides, for example, has to do with having a cinematic experience, which would be lost if it was seen on a small monitor. I believe that there are pieces that can be disseminated on the Internet, but not the majority of mine. I am as concerned about the experience, as about the data within them.

MB: Do you think that the institutional framework (museums, art centres and also big events like Documenta or international biennales) is flexible and does it adapt to the new needs required by artistic practices?

MGT: Yes, it doesn’t trouble me. I believe that I have constantly tried to use this framework to talk about what I want to. Obviously there are limitations, but there is also a lot of flexibility. I believe that up until now, each time they have invited me to exhibit in a biennale or an exhibition of this type, I have ended up doing my work elsewhere. For me the work exists where it is executed and not where it is exhibited. That’s the least of it.

From A-Desk.

No hay comentarios: