Es Baluard Museu d’Art Contemporani de Palma opens the first exhibition season of 2021 with “Memory of Defence: Physical and Mental Architectures“, a collective exhibition that invites us to reflect, from our contemporaneity, on the architectural, physical and mental reasons why defense structures are built in our societies. In this sense, the Museum asks the question: “what or whom do we protect ourselves against?”
This project, curated by Imma Prieto and Pilar Rubí, opens to the public on March 25 from 7.00 pm., with all safety and hygiene measures, and will be on view until September 26 in the Exhibition Hall C.
The approach was born from the idea of a fortress, such as the one that surrounds Es Baluard Museu and which was projected four centuries ago in Mallorca by the Renaissance engineer Giovan Giacomo Paleari Fratino, Giovan Giacomo Paleari Fratino, who also devised multiple fortifications located in both the Mediterranean Region and the heart of Europe.
“Thinking about fortifications and walls anchored in these enclaves introduces us, paradoxically, into a timeline that we know when it begins and that, unfortunately, is still running”, Imma Prieto explains.
“We present a journey that brings us closer both to Frantz Fanon, recognizing ourselves as heirs of colonial and invasive enterprises, as well as to the relationships and denunciations that Foucault pointed out in Discipline and Punish (1975). What is the relation between border walls, prisons and schools? We want to listen to, as Gayatri Spivak would say, the voices that inhabit the other side of the wall”, she adds.
Among the artists participating in the exhibition, we find works by Lida Abdul, Marwa Arsanios, Roy Dib, Mounir Fatmi, Jorge García, Juan Genovés, Leo Gestel, Patricia Gómez & Mª Jesús González, Petrit Halilaj, Peter Halley, Mestre de la conquesta de Mallorca, Antoni Muntadas, Daniela Ortiz, Tommaso Realfonso, Wolf Vostell and Kemang Wa Lehulere.
On the other hand, Es Baluard Museu organizes an exclusive visit to the exhibition for Members of Es Baluard Museu with one of the curators, Pilar Rubí, on March 30 and a program of free guided tours for 20 April and June 1. Both activities require prior registration through the website.
The show is organized into three distinct areas that allow us to delve into the dichotomy that hangs over the reasons why defense structures are built. “As emphasized throughout the exhibition itinerary, our need for protection is not related to physical aggression, rather, it is related to our fear of being too close or being influenced by other people’s ideas, about the possibility of changing our ways of thinking and doing”, Pilar Rubí points out.
“Memory of Defence: Physical and Mental Architectures” begins with a prologue that includes a cluster of historical materials aiming to reflect on the perpetual compulsion to build fortifications as well as to unearth the ties of our present physical and mental defense architectures to the past. For example, the 13th century fresco of the Conquest of Mallorca from the collection of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya reproduced for the first time for this exhibition brings the issue of protection into question: who is the real enemy? Through building plans and maps from different historical periods as well as through a variety of iconographical sources we get close to the scenarios in which the fear of the other comes to presence.
After the introduction comes a second zone that brings up the double game hidden behind both ancient fortifications and current border walls. From the prison bars of the paintings by Juan Genovés and Peter Halley we move toward the West Bank barrier that separates Palestine and Israel as depicted by Lida Abdul and Roy Dib’s video works. Memory of the Defence wraps up with both a series of archival materials from the Balearic Military Intermediate Archive and an installation by Kemang Wa Lehulere. This way, the exhibition emphasizes the urgency of keeping, preserving and reactivating our memories.
In this respect, the Department of Education at Es Baluard Museu has carried out “Memory of Place”, a research process on the history of the immediate physical context in the Sant Pere bastion that presents a testimonial compilation of people who are neighbours or linked to the neighbourhoods near the Museum.
The interviews, which can be found on the website, allow to know various aspects of the closest historical context, such as the transformation of the neighbourhood, anecdotes from the Spanish Civil War or the explosion of 1963, which destroyed part of the wall, as well as reflections on the current situation in the area and the change in ways of living and relating in today’s society in the face of external dangers.
Finally, the exhibition explores our present through a variety of projects by María Jesús González and Patricia Gómez, Antoni Muntadas, Mounir Fatmi and Petrit Halilaj, among others, including topics such as the fear of new thoughts, pandemics, prisons, walls and borders. Our time demands that museums are and must become meeting places and safe havens, sites care and affect. In this regard, it is of the utmost importance to address the physical and mental structures that hinder the possibility of growing into a community.