An unintentional work, an unexpected result.
The “making space” concept of Antonio R. Montesinos.
By Federica Matelli
The common way to contemplate space, which endures through the different speculations and their various theoretical conceptualizations in modernity and postmodernity, is that which considers space as an abstract container. This is a consequence of the control of visuality in Western culture, which provokes space to be conceived in relation to a subject in front of it, or later within it, but always led by the vision and relation between the subject and the surroundings as separate and hierarchically organized elements. This translates into the artistic field in the two-dimensional method of painting, the three-dimensional form of “classic” installation, the map-shaped architectonic and urban project or the interactive installations and site-specific intervention in postmodernist art. Although urban art and public space intervention have been battling whatever abstract conception of space and criticizing its representation, they function in the same pattern. The intervention idea is executed from the subject position as an agent and from a wide impression of the city space and its places, considered previously existent to its experience. This performances intervene in a preexisting and structured space, focusing on questioning and undoing its framework. Contemplated from this perspective, the many critics to the urban and architectural discipline are certainly contradictory, since these are determined by the modern idea of space, according to which the subject remains the main topic.
Intuiting this limitation, on this occasion Antonio R. Montesinos suggests a different “urban drift”: one that is not led by a subject which moves in a particular space or from a place to another, but a drift in the materials and “anonymous” objects that form our everyday environment in a “flat horizon” in relation to which the artist sets himself as another element –as a catalyst – serving only to favor different configurations among them. In this sense, he seems to use an investigational method that resembles that of the archaeology, as a science that approaches objects without human discourse. It is a kind of appropriation that abandons the “project” aesthetics and its textual, narrative or documentary results in favor of a speculative and poetic aesthetics that press for concepts such as poiesis – making, creating, producing – taking a stance in the same level as objectuality, considering itself another element among others and being receptive to the unexpected result, questioning the materials and objects to receive their unknown and unexpected feedback. This time, Montesinos executes a performance that seems to connect to the Speculative Realism philosophy and the poetics of many artists that adhere to a view of the world from the object and its materiality, rather than from the anthropocentric privilege granted to the subject by the Western thought to the present day. Even though the linguistic and textual turn has been the predominant trend in art until today, there has been a change in artistic and theoretical production determined by the convergence between art and these new theories which determine the interpretation of everyday things in artistic practices and production, providing it with a new meaning that can be summarized as a critic to the anthropocentric condition of the contemporary thought and its epistemological approach. These last theories suggest a series of mutations in regard to the object definition and the relation between object and subject, which allow for new ways to treat everyday objects and their inclusion in works of art to favor a redefinition, in an experimental sense, of such practices.
Along the same lines, the way Antonio R. Montesinos “makes space” leads to an abandon of the map concept – general view and frame of the surroundings – in favor of an idea of “space in transformation” that resembles the dynamic space as it was conceived by the ancient Greeks, who did not know the concept of uniform, united and abstract space. On the contrary, their idea was always related to the body, the objects: as Heidegger recalls, Aristotle called that which we define as space with two different terms: topos and kora. Topos is the area that the body obtains and occupies immediately and has the same limits of the body, reminding that “limit” has a positive sense for the Greeks because it indicates something that begins, instead of something that ends. As opposed to topos, kora indicates the area that can “embrace” (dèchestai) and “cover”: “to contain places” which constitute themselves only from the inhabitant bodies. These concepts allow to understand how the transformative work of Montesinos originates from a conception of the urban as a space possibility. Reinventing the objet trouvé technique and imagining the gallery as a laboratory, the artist suggest an exercise that he has defined in a conversation as:
…a ludic methodology to bring materials together and find new forms, ideas and configurations by putting each related to the others. I am resolved to work without that anthropocentric stance, with the same reliance on objects and accepting they have this reliance on me as well. This time, I am attracted to the idea of considering the production as an experiment, as a game. I find interesting relating this situationist idea, from Huizinga, of game as a playground, as a separate place, from which – establishing myself at the same level as the materials – I attempt to work them (or with them) in new configurations, expecting results that may be unsuccessful but try to reflect about space, reality or the urban from a quite different perspective.
The materials that really attract Montesinos’ attention are those which inhabit the city silently, despite having lost “their semantic value” and interrupted their purpose, such as the leftovers, the rubbish, the scrap. From this position echoes Blanca Callen’s idea, who describes the “leftovers” as susceptible to be “epistemic objects; of knowledge and knowledge makers.”  Callen points out that “the rubbish is – against the objects and entities that fills our life – that which has already ceased to exist and loses its form and identity”  but can “be moved, recovered, reactivated and brought back to new spaces,” and assume a new identity, this time of artistic nature. As Montesinos mentions in a previous project titled Inopias, he already planned to retrieve these waste or detritus that modernity tried to silence to precisely work them or with them. Now, for his first personal exhibition in the Isabel Hurley Gallery, the landscape is questioned as a construct, as a composition in which forces not always controlled or intentional intervene, through a randomly combined exercise in which the only true thing are the selected starting materials among those objects discarded and abandoned which constitute the urban “murmur.”
In philosophy, as in physics, the term body is usually used as a synonym of physic object. This use allows to speak about the living bodies, among which appears the human body, in a same level of objectuality as the physic objects.
Heidegger, Martin. Corpo e Spazio. Osservazioni su arte- scultura -spazio. Ed. El Melangolo, Genova, 1996. Pag. 27
Email to the author. 10th April, 2016
Blanca Callen has been working for some years the “social life” of the objects from the social sciences in different projects, such as, for example, Políticas de la chatarra (Scrapping Politics)
Pieces. Rust. Discontinuities.
The uncertainty of a collapse. The walker’s still body after the walk, sweaty. A dumpsite. A material pile of the useless, witness of the impossibility of a raising taking place.
Languages twisted on narrow walls. Doing it for fun, with the same enthusiasm the apprentice has, trying to invade the unknown land. A troubled conquest, a whispering of knowledge in a universe of quotes.
The speech that prevents everything. The word as a wall and stall.
Join what was clumsily cut with staples and glue in a handicraft exercise more linked to the wealth of ideas than to the craftsman’s technique.
Geometric figures of primary colours which are arranged in a disorderly way, from chaos, once the toy box has been turned upside down by a child. Build the Indian fort, the spacecraft, the factory and the hospital. An unexpected discovery, a repeated space.
Stuctures related to storage. Feed in fruit boxes, pallets, metal containers. Wreck caused by a flood that left hundreds of flotsam at the beach. The relation between the tide and the statuary.
An operation, a formal game that completely excludes the possibility of permanence of what’s joined… and that sign as a result of an exploration on the borderline of the legitimate.
Absence of anger and, however, a shortness of breath.
Taking a break on the walk. Marks in the right direction, footpath crossing. Some stones above others marking the place. A citizen algorithm. The peak as mental space, unreachable. The pilgrim’s path and a soft and unworked land where remains of broken walls and a witness of earlier times appear.
Making the unstable, non-permanent, revisable union appear, pending of a new appearance, equally irregular and troubled. A routine that is constantly interrupted.
The look from whom is waiting, patient, looking at the sky, how vapour changes into a cloud. The lightness of insurmountable magnitudes. The return to poetry.
Handle the unavoidable. Bump into someone, in an intermediate space built to recognise something that has nothing to do with neither the genealogy of knowledge nor material production. Endless incentives.
Something irrelevant. Out of plane, of focus, far from the area of interest. The dark area. Points out of the chart presenting the results of some data that is impossible to include, defects from which we start.
A displaced person. An unharmed survivor. A naughty visitor.
Figures that disappear at night. Teeth grinding. Curved roofs. Geodesic domes. Sedimentary logics, logics of accumulation, logics in layers. Idealistic argumentary.
A conflict of interest. Practises that are unbalanced. A course aimed at doubting, going to the forest, running away from the unknown, venturing into lands that have never been visited before. The learner of things’ task, of whom is constantly searching.
A bear that moves in the border of its territory. Anything that may be waiting for someone to visit it.
Antonio R. Montesinos
An unintentional work, an unexpected result
From 29th April to 18th June 2016
With the proposal for this solo exhibition, the artist wants to delve into the reuse of objects taken from construction sites. From a neomaterialist approach, he addresses his decontextualization to work on the search of new ways of dialogue between them and with space. The previous phase of the process is framed in an exercise of intentional, though hazardous, drift, in the Situationist orbit; understood as a propitiatory frame of situations for action and game and as an important platform for social criticism and a shuttle to the empowerment of the activist citizen group. It grants pre-eminence to what the object demands with a post-humanist presumption insofar it gives it the centrality, going from a passive subject that is a mere support of the exclusive intervention that human holds on him to an active subject with its own entity. From there on, the concurrence of several agencies or agents without hierarchy occurs and the artist has the role of catalyst. The final goal is to find and suggest new ways of interpreting our urban reality, breaking with the exhausting and alienating dynamic of loop in the strategies of gentrification and destruction of the territory.
Random is part of the game and ludicism has been vindicated from different positions of the unsatisfied avantgards. The random experience is the essence of the ludicism. According to Huizinga, the spirit of transgression and the fundament of culture lies in game. The concept of entropy is not strange to the job of the artist, whose latest projects reveal how mess and the effect of random are present in the whole system. And it´s precisdely in those marginal gaps or interstices in the systems where the possibility of dissenting actions is against the abuse of regulations by the public powers. The ludens artist prefigures a ludens metropolis as a collective action, expression, confrontation and cultural production space. Game, random, and entropy will then affect the survival of the objects once they have escaped from destruction and, therefore, from all its background: material, ethical, historical, affective, political…
To J. Ranciere, art that creates a political sense in the widest meaning of the expression is formed in the margins. Loreto Alonso establishes categories of production such as the absentminded, the disobedient, the precarious and the invertebrate; all of them present in the interstices left behind by others, that far from belonging to alternative worlds, they are tactics in the prearranged indoors and outdoors, shaping with it new approaches that aspire to modify the conditions in which they take place by virtue of new possibilities, full of creative potential and resistance capacity against the established order. The project that the pieces are part of in this solo exhibition has been generated by those who consider the most extreme spaces of material marginalization, the remains left in residuary spaces.
We could talk about the non-objects of the non-places. There is a connection with the anarchitectural practices of Gordon Matta-Clark and the Roman group of architects Stalker, as much as with Basurama and their different approach to waste. However, there is a distinguishing difference or a nuance that lies in the neomaterialist presumption —it recognises the entity of the object itself— against the gesture of occupation of those spaces by Men, just like it happens with the one that it holds against the Situationism.
If the piece of art is, to Susan Sontag, a singular and indomitable experience gifted with a political dimension of incalculable scope; the pieces that Antonio R. Montesinos presents in An unintentional work, an unexpected result show his demand of the right of non-human presence on the planet to be respected, suggesting the object and not the people as measures, policy that, as a last resort, defines itself with propositions of sustainability. The ecological ideology sees light through the re-usage of waste elements in the reconfiguration of the urban space, axis of other of the latest work lines of the artist in his project Inopias.
On the other hand, notions of process, seriousness, and scale are present in the post-conceptual sphere. The reference to the arte povera is not frivolous either, since it highlights the most insignificant lives, like those of the materials found in building sites or places in the process of being demolished. The undeniable character of dead natures and the photographic support sends us back to the essence of the still life, an underrated genre in its origins due to the vulgarity of its motifs.
On the text that Martí Perán wrote for the Futuros abandonados [Abandoned futures] exposition. “Yesterday was already the matter;” with this, she reported that we live in the dictatorship of the present whose conditions limit and make impossible to imagine alternative patterns. Borys Groys affirms that the utopian aspirations take artists further from their historical context: the footprint of art in the world has a higher impact that the effects of politics and very often causes its devastations since it foresees the future and its prolonged presence earned it the possibility of shaping it.
This solo exhibition gives body to a whole declaration of intentions, a road map to a hypothetic future, without shifting from our closer vital environments that, following Jünger’s recommendations, we should face free of prejudices and open to an experience that makes a raid into adventure; to surprises, to astonishment at the not ostentatious luxury of the authentic, to the challenge of talent; to uncertainty; to the unexpected; predisposed to let us be overawed by beauty and the brightness of the useless; by the fun of the game, the risk, the celebration; vulnerable like Stendhal to the emotion and eroticism of the senses. Bennet does not approve that objects can be thought in an ethical form if the erotic form is not understood or in a political form without their aesthetics being explored.
It’s in the interstitial spaces where the truth hides from reality — Robert Frank; the inner history disconnected to the impositions of the narrative macrostructures, and only through sincerity it is possible to get back the credibility of the Contemporary Art —lost, usurped and destroyed by the System. Antonio R. Montesinos displays the objects that have caught his eye through the empowerment that he gave them— what results in a drift inside a drift—, treating them as alive elements and self-organised, with the capacity of attraction and resistance against external impositions. That is the reason why they appear in their authentic and brutal nature, with all the honesty inside, simply accumulated, without any manipulation, driven by their own essence and entropic dynamic and without this process obeying any predetermined typology—such is the case of Mario Mertz’s igloos or his project How to make a dome, an allusion to geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. This morphology hampers vertical hierarchically organized structures; not in vain, Fuller created the Dymaxion Map that, going a step further, suggested getting rid of any conditioning —even geographic— that determines dominant hierarchies.
Accumulation, a phenomenon studied by Weber as inherent in capitalism, is used now as a weapon to subvert it. These objects, acting as time travellers from a not very far away past and a near space, suggest new perspectives to face the future and new ontological approaches to reconsider the several lives and the interconnection between them, what is essential to co-plan and co-design a feasible future.
Antonio R. Montesinos. Resume
(Ronda, Málaga, 1979). Graduate with a degree in Fine Arts from the Technical University of Valencia and a master degree in Digital Arts from the University of Pompleu Fabra in Barcelona. He has displayed his work in several spaces and art centres such as La Centrale Électrique (Brussels), Centro Ex-Teresa (Mexico), Gdansk City Gallery (Poland), Hospital Club (London), La Casa Encendida (Madrid), Centro de Arte Santa Mónica (Barcelona), I+CAS (Seville), CAAC (Seville), CACMA (Málaga) or EACC (Castellón). Among all his work, we shall highlight some solo projects, like Inopias in the gallery Josédelafuente Galería. His works are part of some institutional ans private collections.
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