This special programme, organised in conjunction with International Museum Day, melds the lines of work developed by the Museo Reina Sofía with the contours of a timeline of interventions which places care and the sustainability of life as an inescapable ethical priority. Taking Care of Ourselves is an ongoing action about ourselves and others, a proposal with which to put forward initiatives to question this emergency present while searching in archives and past activities to bring forth the practices and reflections accompanying us at this current moment. This analysis, however, of the current situation cannot get away from questions regarding the future, for it becomes necessary to imagine, together, the world ahead that we all want.
Today we inhabit the Museo with a vividly perceived memory of what it once was: a hospital shaken by the epidemic of the so-called Spanish flu at the beginning of the twentieth century. Amidst another ferocious pandemic, the role of the Museo as a public institution gains new meaning and is re-considered in all its dimensions and forms of expression. It is a museum that wishes to be situated and is located in a neighbourhood with residents who, like so many others, have been seriously affected by the disease — overcrowding, a lack of basic resources, rising rent prices — but also with networks of solidarity and self-organisation which once again demonstrate its vitality.
This image of a collective work in the Museo’s garden — where different life forms and temporalities co-exist — evokes, together with the memory of the former hospital, the power of mutual care in sustaining human and non-human life. By means of the hospital-garden-museum constellation, the present programme is organised into three blocks of activities, grouped together by poetic affinity and prompting a reflection of care through the senses: “Breathe, Co-inspire” stresses the need for community as a survival condition; “Touch, Affect” alludes to sensitive experiences and contact with others; and, finally, “Treat, Avert” calls upon the need for assistance around the environment in which we are situated, in addition to imagining forms of protection and transformation.
Meeting: Language or Death
Organised by: Museo Situado
Razib, Afroza and Elahi are migrants. They were born in Bangladesh and live in Madrid. On 26 March, at the height of the healthcare emergency caused by COVID-19, their fellow countryman, Mohamed Hossein, died in confinement after calling the health authorities over a six-hour period. Hossein didn’t speak fluent Spanish, and no doctor went to tend to him. Since then, all three, together with migrant and social organisations, have demanded compulsory interpreting in health centres, schools, courthouses, and State offices. Over the course of April 2020, poet Dani Zelko spoke to them by phone while under lockdown in Buenos Aires, with the exchanges, accounts and silences of Razib, Afroza, Elahi and Pepa leading to the publication Lengua o muerte (Language or Death), framed inside the project Meeting by this Argentinian artist and publisher.
Participants: Dani Zelko with Rakibul Hasan Razib, Elahi Mohammad Fazle, Afroza Rhaman and Pepa Torres Pérez
Udlot, Udlot, by José Maceda
Video of the concert: Udlot, Udlot, by José Maceda
In March 2019, the Museo opened a call to participate in the performance of the piece Udlot Udlot (1975), by Philippine composer José Maceda, whose work combined his interest in traditional music from Southeast Asia and Europe. The performance of the piece required no prior musical knowledge, simply attendance at a workshop organised by the Museo, in collaboration with the Escuela Municipal de Música y Danza del Distrito Centro María Dolores Pradera. Some one hundred people learnt the score together and kept in time with its rhythms. During the current pandemic, the experience reminds us of something essential: the power of union and respectful co-existence, not only between humans but with all other living organisms on the planet.
Raciality and Care in the Dispute for Other Lives
Link to the lecture: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Yayo Herrero
In this lecture from the series Six Contradictions and the End of the Present, African American activist and theorist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and anthropologist, technical engineer, social educator and ecofeminist Yayo Herrero reflect on care as the starting point for thinking about a more just and equal society, putting forward a life outside of ideas of production and economic value. Taylor focuses on the need to confront present-day racism in the USA, now a structural effect of a system which seeks to create a State of terror, while Yayo Herrero analyses how care has become precarious and circumscribes migrant collectives and women as they are essential but dismissed from all social considerations.
During the early days of confinement, the Museo’s Public Activities Department came up with the idea of sharing readings and discussing them each week. These texts and encounters have woven together a place for either joint thinking and sharing common feelings and questions, or simply to get some breathing space. “It is no coincidence that the term ‘aspiration’ means both hope and the act of breathing,” we hear in The Great Silence (2014), a work by artists Allora & Calzadilla with a text by science-fiction writer Ted Chiang. Shortness of breath is one of the most persistent symptoms of the current virus and also a trait of the different wars against living, as recalled by philosopher Achille Mbembe in a recent text “The Universal Right to Breathe”, which is shared here. The readings and conversations include texts written under lockdown by the group’s participants, for instance “Algunas herramientas para escuchar esta pandemia: calma, silencio y quietud (Some Tools for Listening to this Pandemic: Calm, Silence and Stillness)” y “No tener olfato (No Sense of Smell)”, and the video-letter “Planta baja (Ground Floor)”.
Fluxus to the People. Reactivations
Journeys Through the City
Journeys (Spanish version):
In conjunction with International Museum Day, part of the programme Fluxus to the People, organised by the Museo in 2012, is reactivated, with its invitations to open, playful and activist collectiveness by way of art actions from the Fluxus movement. More specifically, there is the restoration of routes around Madrid designed by artists, architects and urban planners, drawing inspiration from “fluxtour” critiques of gentrification in New York neighbourhoods. In the current landscape, where the only possible urban interaction is walking, these critical routes around care and memories of the city can be carried out.
With Three Wounds, I
Exhibition and Encounter
Exhibition: from Monday 18 May 2020
Encounter: Monday, 25 May 2020 – 6p / Zoom: Encounter. With Three Wounds, I (Spanish language) - Meeting ID: 919 2077 6166 - Password: 788762
This second photographic exhibition on the experience of confinement spotlights six photographic stories from the interior and intimacy of lived spaces, spaces which can be a refuge at certain times and a place of hostility at others. In these accounts the camera has served as therapy, condemnation, diary and a footprint of occurrences, where that which is photographed shows itself, once more, as an encounter between the bodies of those taking pictures, those letting themselves be photographed and those we see.
Artists: Olmo Calvo, Rubén H. Bermúdez, Edu León, Roberta Marrero, Isabel Permuy and Judith Prat
Curated by: Inés Plasencia
The Touching Community. Aimar Pérez-Galí
Interview Iink: RRS. Aimar Pérez Galí. The Touching Community (Spanish Audio)
An interview with choreographer, dancer and researcher Aimar Pérez Galí, coinciding with the presentation of The Touching Community in the Museo Reina Sofía in December 2017. The piece creates a space of trust and mutual understanding, where bodies with different training and ages touch and are touched to an out-loud reading of letters Pérez Galí wrote to dancers who fell victim to AIDS. One, addressed to Felipe, a dancer from Madrid, can be heard on this radio podcast.
Blinking. An Accessible and Inclusive Performance
In 2019, the women’s group La profesión va por dentro (The Profession Is Inside) conducted research into the Museo’s Collection and temporary exhibitions, granting privilege, from their varyingly adept bodies, to the emotions and role of the body when relating to the works and museum space. The upshot of this work was presented in the stage piece Blinking. An Accessible and Inclusive Performance (its research process and images are available on the Museo Reina Sofía website), whereby participants reflected upon the physical Museo’s accessibility and cognitive barriers, as well as the security protocols conditioning the visit. The group are currently working on the project Gestos CoVidianos on the lockdown situation and its effects on their bodies.
With All My Affection
Handwritten dedications in the library of Jean Cassou
The personal library of Jean Cassou (1897–1986), the renowned French Hispanist and art critic, is part of the holdings of the Museo Reina Sofía Library and Documentation Centre. Consulting its contents reveals the most relevant works from the twentieth-century’s Spanish and Latin American literary landscape, in addition to an ensemble of handwritten dedications that reveal a story of affection. Noteworthy figures such as Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Max Aub, María Teresa de León, Jorge Guillén, Eugenio D’Ors, Miguel de Unamuno, Pedro Salinas and Manuel Altolaguirre were part of Cassou’s close circle, which in turn made the Parisian house on rue du Figuier a place for the sharing of work and friendship. This brief selection of images is also a foretaste of the digital Library project, which will offer digital access to a significant part of the Museo’s bibliographical collections.
Breaking La Casa (The Crevice House): Transmitting the Intimate, Inventing Ourselves Together
Artistic process with Aitana Cordero
From Monday 25 to Sunday 31 May 2020
Participation with prior registration; aimed at young people aged between 15 and 21
La Casa (The House) is a vast project full of ramifications and has been developed by artist Aitana Cordero over the past four years. Its point of departure is the idea of “how to destroy a theatre, how to build a house, us, together”, and takes the form of four performance pieces and a number of workshops in different parts of the world. Initially planned to be conducted on-site in the Museo, this workshop has been radically transformed by the lockdown: What is intimacy now? What do we want to transmit? Cordero joins a group of teenagers and young people aged between 15 and 21 to break down the walls of the many confinements to which our bodies are subjected, with the aim of imagining new places of encounter and rethinking the ties that bring us together in the here and now.
Driving Away Evil
A study group publication
Active since February 2020, this study group addresses the ‘pharmaceuticalization’ of life and contemporary disturbances, thus pooling forms of resistance against neoliberal logics. During this healthcare emergency, the group will draft a virtual diary series to reflect on how life has radically changed, an edition presented on International Museum Day and made from fragments of the diary in the form of a collage of images and words as it seeks to become a momentary record of an ongoing autobiographical and multiple-voiced discussion on the current unknown.
Ecologies of Care in the Welfare State Crisis. A Dialogue Between Madrid and Trieste
In April 2019, the Museo organised these sessions on experiences of community healthcare in Madrid and Trieste with regard to institutional critique in the field of psychiatry and, specifically, to the work of Franco Basaglia. At the same time, the activity set out from the research residency Marta Malo, Marta Pérez and Pantxo Ramas carried out in 2016 in the Museo Reina Sofía Study Centre, resulting in the project Enter Outside. From the Public and the Commons.
Organised around two round-table discussions, the programme analysed the history and present of care institutions devised in light of 1970s institutional critique movements. Its contributions can now be reviewed in the context of a museum with aspirations of care.
The Death of the Clinic?
Lecture by Paul B. Preciado
The title of this lecture given by philosopher Paul B. Preciado in 2013 during the opening session of the programme Somateca draws inspiration from Michel Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic (1963). By way of an analysis of the conquests of twentieth-century feminist and homosexual politics, which sought to dismantle the disciplinary institutions denounced by Foucault, Preciado explores models of the somato-political management of contemporary neoliberal societies. This recording of the lecture prompts us to consider the currency of these reflections, and to rethink the politics of care as a critical instrument of museum institutions.
Time. Claudia Claremi
Audiovisual mediation project
Time is a work in progress which, via the collective creation of an experimental film, explores the personal and collective memories of the Museo’s team of volunteers. The project got under way in 2019, with the line of argument of a dystopian present: in the wake of the collapse of modern society, Western culture has lost its hegemonic place and its institutions, such as museums, fall by the wayside. To this backdrop, the volunteers appear as a group of people that inhabit and preserve the Museo. The current shutdown of society has deeply shifted the meaning of the project, so much so that what was recorded as fiction now seems a plausible reality. The film, currently in the editing stage and presented here in three fragments, transposes experiences of attention towards and silent dialogue with artworks, as well as different ways of inhabiting and traversing museum space.
Situated Feminist Pedagogies
The reflection and dialogue around feminist pedagogies in a context of confinement like the present one, in which the education community finds itself stretched to the limit in an unprecedented dislocation of its schools, in the desire to establish a virtual education model for which nobody was prepared, can end up in itself being an exercise in care. This conversation between Alicia Bernardos, Irene Martínez, Analía Villagrán and Rosa Mari Ytarte, which took place in 2018 in the context of the programme Perturbable School, analyses key issues in education: power relations opposite care relations; bridges between scientific knowledge, popular knowledge and the role of experience; the diversity of subjects, bodies and identities; sorority networks opposite the impositions of capital.