This audiovisual series looks at the 1980s, and that decade’s prolongation into the 1990s, as a genealogy of much of the dialectics that explain the contemporary, as a time period and cultural category. The 1980s have traditionally been considered in terms of market extension and as the articulation of a pensive, self-referential artistic sphere. Hence, the appeals to the final moments of identity-centred historicism, appeals that are visible in the returns to painting in Europe, or to the theses of the end of history as a justification of global neoconservatism, have resulted in this decade being considered through the paradigms of spectacle and banalisation.
Without completely rejecting it, The image is a virus confronts and qualifies this thesis. Taking as its starting point a reference to William Burroughs, a decisive writer for the interests and themes of this decade’s counterculture, this series compares the idea of the image as contagion and transmission to the diagnosis of implosion and banalisation that dominates the theoretical analyses of the post-modern image. In doing so, The image is a virus does not seek to replace one paradigm by another, but rather to present the 1980s as a decade that was, more than spectacular, decidedly bipolar, characterised not by the predominance of great narratives but by a series of unresolved tensions that will dominate the constitution of the contemporary period. The series, which accompanies and expands upon the discourse of Minimal Resistance, aims to show over its nine sessions some of these contradictions: in contrast with an all-embracing institutionality, the formation of artistic activisms and collectivisms; in contrast with the specificity of art, its blurring into ways of life mixed with music as an experience and form of resistance; in contrast with the globalisation starting in 1989, the territory as a place of reconstruction and memory; in contrast with the return to the myth of the artist, a tragicomic parody of the artist trapped within the art system.
In short, The image is a virus undertakes a revision of the 1980s and its echoes, doing so from the perspective of some of its fractures, showing a decade characterised by a series of narratives in constant tension.
This series is the second edition of the program of Histories of cinema, which looks at how the discourses of the Collection are seen in film. Organised by Museo Reina Sofía within the framework of “The Uses of Art,” a project by the European museum network L’Internationale.