Efrén Álvarez


February 2 - May 30, 2011 /
Nouvel Building, Mezzanine 2

Económicos, the project by the artist Efrén Álvarez (Barcelona, 1980) produced specifically for Museo Reina Sofía's program Fisuras, outlines a global vision of today's economy as a discipline that caricaturises itself. The forty drawings and texts by different authors show relationship systems in which the project's apparent pedagogical intention means in practice looking at what is unproductive, decayed and alienated through work and consumption.

Efrén Álvarez' drawings take on a hybrid form somewhere between caricature and diagram and they have equal amounts of salutary shock value and pseudo-pedagogical interest. If diagrams as a genre have been historically used to define power relations and self-seeking genealogies, in Álvarez' proposition all hierarchy is subordinate to a dramatic eternal return: his drawings reveal a relationship flow in which whatever the material exchanged may be, it shows signs of an unavoidable putrefaction process affecting the subjects involved. Inspired by other caricaturists who have used the diagram (particularly the Mexican Eduardo del Río, Rius), Efrén Álvarez contributes an intentionally confusing perspective, a contrast between what is argued in economic theory and the images and poems on display. He deploys a complete map of systems that reflect a tragicomic cosmovision, a cartography that informs as it misinforms. Showing through these diagrams are company and institutional flow-charts on task distribution, sketches of obsolete machines or drawings of dysfunctional anatomy that betrays the perverse component of market-controlled relationships.

Económicos  makes reference to a host of characters whose identity has come to be defined exclusively by commercial relationships. This group seems to conjure up the  homo economicus  archetype described in the 19th century by John Stuart Mill but, far from the theoretical enthusiasm of the early industrial revolutions, it is updated from the perspective of world capitalism's systemic crisis. In this respect, the Marxist concepts of surplus value, labour force and means of production become, respectively, fecal matter, many-headed hydras and closed production chains.

The result is an analysis of the economy in its facet as tragedy, in the most classical and theatrical sense of the word, as a circular narration, a vicious circle moving towards a disaster known by characters and spectators who can do nothing against the constant impulse caused by a higher force that makes human beings incapable of breaking the cycle.To create the project, Efrén Álvarez experiments with the process that goes from the innocence of workers unconscious of their alienation to their becoming conscious through the study of classic authors or interviews with economists of our times. But the worker (in this case the artist) is no longer strengthened by the fact of becoming conscious, but rather, through these cartographies, he remains in a constant search for his place in the world which he paradoxically endures.

The program Fisuras tries to reveal interstitial areas of the Museum, allowing visitors to discover the narrative potential of intermediate zones, spaces of  conflict, hybrid zones (landings, stairwells, basements, connections between buildings). Choosing the mezzanine of the Nouvel building for this exposition makes a previously unperceived space visible. It reveals the no-man's-land between the semi-public space for Museum workers and the public space for exhibitions, and also one of the spaces of connection, one of the fissures that joins the Museum's two buildings and also betrays a point of friction.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Efrén Álvarez