In the context of the Master’s Degree Course in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture taught at the Study Centre of the Museo Reina Sofía in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Complutense University, Madrid (UCM), Space D of the Museum’s Documentation Centre now presents Vis à vis: Quico Rivas, Archive and Prison, an academic exercise in exhibition design carried out by the group of students currently following the criticism itinerary on the Master’s course.
The project aims to explore the penitentiary dimension of the vast archive of Quico Rivas, preserved in the Library and Documentation Centre of the Museo Reina Sofía. This approach to the notion of the archive from the perspective of imprisonment investigates the frictions, bonds and dichotomies produced within both the prison and the archive, two spaces that infringe the limits between the private and the public.
The writer, critic, and curator Quico Rivas (Francisco Rivas Romero-Valdespino, Cuenca, 1953 – Ronda, 2008) was a heterodox contributor to various areas of culture. He became a key figure of the Movida, Madrid’s cultural boom of the early 1980s, and curated some of the most important exhibitions of the period. In 2008, Rivas started the preparatory work for a show scheduled to be held at the Museo Reina Sofía under the title of Los fantasmas de Madrid (The Ghosts of Madrid). The project was interrupted by his death that same year. The exhibition was finally completed a year later under the title Los esquizos de Madrid. Figuración madrileña de los 70 (The Schizoids of Madrid. Figuration in Madrid in the 1970s).
Among Quico Rivas’ numerous curatorial projects, one that holds a place of special prominence is Las otras galerías. La cárcel y las bellas artes en la época moderna (The Other Galleries. Prison and the Fine Arts in the Modern Era), initially planned for the Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo in Badajoz. Rivas’ intention was to use the space of this museum, a former prison on the panopticon model, to gather the work of artists who had addressed the theme of penitentiary life. The proposal materialized only partially in the Extremaduran museum’s stand at the ARCO contemporary art fair in 2003, but this interest in prisons became a constant feature of Rivas’ work and concerns.
Vis à vis: Quico Rivas, Archive and Prison is a documentary exhibition that stems precisely from the idea of the prison as a space of confinement to extend this notion to the archive. This is here seen as another place of internment, where access is limited and there are problematized tensions between the narratives produced from within and those generated from the outside. The show proposes to read the archive as a space for storing and classifying vestiges, the material remains of a living project whose totality is impossible to apprehend. Encounters with the archive are fragmentary and controlled: as with the visitors’ room of a prison, they take place in intermediate zones, and the visitors are not given full access to the place of confinement. With these reflections, it is hoped also to provide a material reflection of the various dichotomies that arise in the treatment of this particular archive, presenting the documentation through a variety of expository devices and reproductions of particular documents that will allow visitors to experience new forms of interaction with archival procedures.
Master’s Degree Course in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture taught at the Study Centre of the Museo Reina Sofía in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and Complutense University, Madrid (UCM).
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