The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía presents a selection of works from the Colección Pi Fernandino in Madrid, one of the few private collections that concentrates on works done in audiovisual format from recent decades.
If, as Martha Rosler (New York, 1943) noted, video art experienced ‘a utopian moment’ in the 1960s due in large part to the social and political ferment of the time - but also because of a general confidence in the critical capacity of ‘portable video technology,’ - then the Colección Pi Fernandino, which houses videos produced in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, finds itself in a post-utopian moment. This period corresponds to the height of capitalism, understood as the end of history according to Francis Fukuyama’s well-known thesis and French thinker Jean Baudrillard’s conception of reality as a sham.
The choice of pieces in this programme, put together by the collectors themselves, reveal a utopian nuance or trace in Rosler’s sense of the word in the videos produced at the close of the 20th century and dawn of the 21st. Following thematic criteria, the series is divided into two programmes: Actions and Situations, a distinction determined by two aspects of memory: on the one hand, action art and on the other, situationism, a post-war cultural movement that began to take on importance at the end of the 1950s and fully developed during the 1960s.
Situations includes video pieces by Emmanuelle Antille (Lausanne, 1972), Eugenio Dittborn (Santiago de Chile, 1943), Cao Guimaraes (Belo Horizonte, 1965), Marcel Odenbach (Cologne, 1953) and Lawrence Weiner (New York, 1942), among others, while Actions presents works by Roman Signer (Appenzell, 1938), Rubén Ramos Balsa (Santiago de Compostela, 1978), Marina Abramović (Belgrade, 1946), Carlos Amorales (Mexico City, 1970), Tracey Emin (London, 1973), Jon Mikel Euba (Bilbao, 1967), Anthony Goicolea (Atlanta, 1971), Mariko Mori (Tokyo, 1967) and Michael O’Malley.
More than a binary opposition and a contrast between actionism and situationism or between actions and situations, the here and now of the videos chosen from the Colección Pi Fernandino meditate on a post-utopian moment, both with respect to video and to our historic condition, in which the utopian possibility has been annihilated. What is being talked about here goes beyond being a mere reference or some kind of Narcissus recreated in the history of a medium that is now in its third generation (which, having begun in the second half of the 1990s, has experienced the full acceptance and incorporation of video into the contemporary art system). It is something else, perhaps nostalgia made memory.