In a collaboration with the Community of Madrid’s Autumn Festival, the Museo Reina Sofía presents the Spanish premiere of Scorpion and Felix, a work by Buenos Aires-based La Columna Durruti, an iconoclastic collective carrying out performance actions and made up of Emilio García Wehbi, Maricel Álvarez, Marcelo Martínez, Julieta Potenze, Martín Antuña, among others.
The session gets under way with a conversation between the collective’s founders, Maricel Álvarez and Emilio García Wehbi, and curator and researcher Isabel de Naverán on Trilogía de La Columna Durruti (2015–2017) and other works by the collective explored through the lens of texts, films, objects, publications and actions. The conversation is followed by the performance Scorpion and Felix (2018), articulated around a reading of the only fictional text written by Karl Marx: Scorpion and Felix. A Humoristic Novel (1837). In line with the non-conformist stance of La Columna Durruti, the piece looks to provoke action-based reflections which interrogate the present.
In the words of Emilio García Wehbi: “We knew Marx the philosopher, Marx the economist, Marx the politician, but we didn’t know Marx the comedian. We’re not talking about Groucho or Harpo but Karl. Aged 19, Karl Marx flirted with poetry and the novel, and Scorpion and Felix is a demonstration that he could have walked down those pathways too. The book is a series of chapters in an unfinished satirical novel in which the young philosopher-to-be, already demonstrating his virtues as a polemicist, humorously discusses the theories of thinkers that came before him. In essence, it chuckles with an outlandish approach that we could venture to call a predecessor to Dada. It constitutes a literary heresy critiquing the customs of the era in the same irreverent manner Duchamp painted a moustache on The Mona Lisa. In some ways, the existence of Scorpion and Felix is a feverish celebration of the death of this scowling, proud and delineated Marx that history books and monuments in countries where Stalinist socialism reigned took it upon themselves to invent. In this instance, La Columna Durruti is guilty of committing the assassination of Julius Caesar, of tearing off Marx’s false beard”.
Maricel Álvarez is an actress, choreographer, curator and teacher whose practice develops at the intersection between theatre, performance, dance and visual arts. She has worked closely with Emilio García Wehbi since 1999, and also collaborated with the theatre group El Periférico de Objetos and directors that include Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful, 2010), Woody Allen (To Rome with Love, 2012), Sophie Calle (Prenez soin de vous, 2015) and William Kentridge (Enough and more than enough. A performative lecture about drawing, 2017). Furthermore, her works have been presented in the most prestigious theatres, galleries, museums and festivals internationally. At the present time she is a professor on the MA in Theatre and Performance at the National University of the Arts, and has worked as a curator on the Performance Biennials BP.17 and BP.19, both in Buenos Aires.
Emilio García Wehbi is a stage director, stage manager, performer, actor, artist, visual artist and teacher. In 1989, he founded El Periférico de Objetos. His shows, operas, performances, installations and urban interventions have been presented on, at and in major stages, festivals and cities in the Americas, Europe and Asia. His poetics attempt to confront disciplines and established aesthetic categories in such a way that his creations cannot be pinned down by any precise definition. In his work he focuses specifically on dialectics with the spectator, considering it an active part of the work, critical, violent or extraordinary situations, and memory. He has also won the Konex Award for artistic excellence, among numerous other distinctions.
Isabel de Naverán conducts research at the crossroads between art, contemporary choreography and performance in projects of curatorship, publishing and writing. She holds a PhD in Art from University of the Basque Country and is part of the research group Artea. In 2010, she founded, with Leire Vergara, Miren Jaio and Beatriz Cavia, Bulegoa z/b - Oficina de arte y conocimiento in Bilbao, a project she was connected to until 2018. Since 2017 she has been in charge of curating live arts (dance-performance) in the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department.
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