When the Isabel Hurley Gallery invited Archivo F.X. to display some of its latest works in an individual exhibition, most of these new creations were based on picture files from Euskadi and Navarra, within the project Una violencia pura whose first stage was presented in the San Telmo Museum from Donostia/San Sebastián during the year 2013.
One of the many contributions prepared for that occasion was Málaga Euskadi da, referring directly to a 1986 work belonging to the Agustín Parejo School from Málaga, which, beyond the Archivo F.X. logics, seemed fundamental to us given the fact that this collective is an example for Pedro G. Romero in many aspects, and, besides, it relays some interesting ideas relating to his work: the idea of the image itself and his politic work; but also -and there lies the importance of the institution which takes the art piece in its collection- the flow between radical art, the streets and institutions, that is, the constant change of pedestal that a work goes through in order to keep proving itself, recovering strength.
That’s why our first impulse was to exhibit this material from Agustín Parejo School, their remainders, and the gallery made a great effort in order to achieve this. Thus, thanks to the MACBA’s loans and the MNCARS cooperation, the Opera Prima Film Festival Tudela City, the Málaga Architects Association, Mar Villaespesa, Juanjo Fuentes and Pedro G. Romero himself, these documents -stickers, signs, photographs, audios and videos- can be displayed.
Besides, this operation is consistent with the Archivo F.X.’s work logic, always against the museum as a “machine”, a visual arts hegemonic device since mid-19th century. We must remember that “against” doesn’t only mean opposition, it’s also used in sentences like “against the wall”, meaning to be pressed so your whole body is in contact with its stone.
Since the end of the ‘90s, the Archivo F.X. works revolve around relations between iconoclasm and modern radical movements. These operations are based on a huge archive of anti-sacramental political iconoclasm images from Spain between 1845 and 1945, images that are organized according to a critical index of terms coming from the modern project’s broad field of visual constructions. That means decapitated figures of Christ, burnt down churches and profaned hosts under titles like Acéphale, Anarquitectura (Anarchitechture), or Art and Crafts. A particular case of this: the image of the Capuchin Convent ruins in Manresa, burnt down in 1909, which had a chapel, a school, an artisanal bakery, a soup kitchen and a dressmaking workshop appears under the title La Casa Invisible (The Invisible House), the extraordinary social and cultural centre from Málaga. These kinds of examples are what constitute the Archivo F.X.’s main source and its own language game.
We could also emphasise another important issue from Málaga Euskadi da. The archaeology of the image made by the Archivo F.X. doesn’t work with that standard so-called Historical Memory. At least, not only. These pictures of profaned temples, attacked saints and liturgy mockery are as relevant in Málaga as in Bilbao. It’s not about remembering anything, nor uncovering secrets from the past, nor publically reporting this or that excess of propaganda. These are surely side effects. The Archivo F.X.’s work point is the image, its appearances,
disappearances and reappearances. There was written at some point that an image reaches its highest point, its greatest exaltation, the exact moment before it’s destroyed. It’s these kind of paradoxes the Archivo F.X. works with.
The main block of works shows part of the Thesaurus: Una violencia pura (Málaga Euskadi da), a group of 177 pictures coming from different archives related to Euskadi and Navarra that have entered the index of the Archivo F.X.’s itself. They will be displayed in an area of the gallery in a specific arrangement, but can also be seen through the webpage www.fxysudoble.com. Among the thesaurus, some Contributions have a special prominence: Guggenheim Bilbao/Pompidou Málaga. This Contribution can also be seen: L’Argent, a little dramatization made from Robert Bresson’s film with the same title in which a little falsification of a 100 francs note causes a killing spree.
Among other pieces of the exhibition we can find Los Países (The Countries), a photographic report made in Euskadi based on an order from the Complutense University of Madrid’s project Construcción y destrucción del territorio (Constructions and destruction of territory), which has been recently turned into a book by the Periférica publishing house, and Las Autovías (The Highways), a developing work that hopes to get started the tourist trip that, in 1938, the Francoist National Tourism Service -an initiative from Luis Antonio Bolín from Málaga- wanted to traverse for the North Front Route from Oviedo to Irun: profaned churches and incomparable settings, prisoner-of-war camps and bull rings, folkloric religious exaltations and cities in ruins.
Along with this it’s also displayed the Boletín número 9. Documentos y materiales (Bulletin number 9. Documents and material), produced by Fundación Málaga and the gallery itself, an Archivo F.X. publication for free distribution which gathers up contents that coincide with many of the works in this exhibition. This number holds a special side from the point of view of The Return of Martin Genre, a seminal paper of the historian Natalie Zemon Davies and a milestone in indicial history, microhistory and social and cultural history, all names assigned to an unclassifiable historic enquiry.
Pedro G. Romero (Aracena, 1964)
He’s been working as an artist since 1985. He’s part of the PRPC (Cultural Politics Reflection Proponents) in Sevilla and is a member of the UNIA contents team arteypensamiento in the International University of Andalucía. He’s the Commissioner/Curator of the Peace Treaty project for Donostia as Capital of Culture in 2016.
Between 1990 and 1994 he was awarded important prizes such as “El ojo crítico” (The critical eye) of the Spanish National Radio or the Fondation Cartier Scholarship. He’s been working in two different projects since the end of the ‘90s, the Máquina P.H. and the Archivo F.X., which is being widely displayed by: Tàpies Foundation, Barcelona; MNCARS, Madrid; Venice Biennale; Manifesta; Serralves Foundation, Porto; MUSAC, León; Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria; CAPC, Bordeaux; MUDAM, Luxemburg; Sculpture Center, New York; or the Frankfurter Kunstverein. He has recently exhibited in the exhibition Giving Form to the Impatience of Liberty, commissioned by Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ, in the Stuttgart Kunstverein and in Mínima Resistencia (Minimal resistance); in Entre el tardomodernismo y la globalización: prácticas artísticas durante las décadas de los 80 y 90 (Between late-modernism
and globalization: artistic practices during the ‘80s and ‘90s decades), commissioned by Manuel Borja Villel, Rosario Peiró and Beatriz Herráez; in the MNCARS, and in 93, which resides in the Galician Contemporary Art Center, commissioned by Miguel von Hafe Pérez.
He’s working at the moment for several individual exhibitions that will take place in 2014: Secession, Vienna; L’Iselpe, Brussels; MAM (Musée d’Art Moderne), Sete, France; São Paulo Biennal, Brazil, commissioned by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayoo, Pablo Lafuente and Oren Sagiv; and in the Isabel Hurley Gallery, Málaga, Spain. He’s also preparing his participation in one for the MACBA, Barcelona.