Jorge Díez

5th - 22nd February, 2004

Art Interventions in Madrid. MADRID ABIERTO is a project framed within so-called Public Art i.e. interventions and performances derived from an artistic concept and developed preferably in a public and open context. Interacting with social and political processes, these works are aimed at the active or passive protagonists of such processes, i.e. all those people who, directly or indirectly, regularly or occasionally, live together in a specific physical, communicative, social and symbolic space, in this case, the City of Madrid.

The aim of this first edition of MADRID ABIERTO 2004 —to be held from 5th to 22nd February— is to act as a prototype or model for future editions, which will be extended to the rest of the City and Community of Madrid. The intervention will be restricted to the area comprising the Plaza de Colón (Jardines del Descubrimiento), the Plaza de la Independencia (Puerta de Alcalá), the junction of the Calle Alcalá with Gran Vía, and the Paseo del Prado —though a site-specific work will also be produced for the Depósito Elevado (Water Tank) in the grounds of the Fundación Canal in the Plaza de Castilla.

The international MADRID ABIERTO competition received 234 projects from 316 artists, with 57 projects for the site-specific installation for the Water Tank at the Canal Foundation. The competition had an extensive reception worldwide, with the following distribution of projects per country of residence of the participating artists: Spain (129), Italy (16), United Kingdom (11), United States (10), Argentina (10), Mexico (7), Germany (7), Brazil (7), Cuba (5), France (4), Holland (4), Colombia (3), Switzerland (3), Belgium (2), South Korea (2), Chile (2), Australia (2), Portugal (2), Greece (2), Austria (1), Peru (1), Japan (1), China (1), Turkey (1) and the Dutch Antilles (1).

The jury -Paloma Blanco, Ramon Parramon and Jorge Díez (programme director)- has selected the following projects: house-Madrid by Wolfgang Weileder (Munich, 1964), a synchronized process of construction and deconstruction of two identical, front and rear façades, in the form of a sequential choreography in which two different buildings appear on the same site on the Paseo de Recoletos; Silent by Elena Bajo (Madrid, 1972) /Warren Neidich (New York, 1952), a plexiglass acoustic sculpture to be installed on a section of the Paseo de la Castellana close to the open-air Museum of Sculpture as an ephemeral gesture limiting the noise pollution in the City; and Emancipator Bubble, an inflatable dwelling in the form of a bubble, which permits a high degree of independence without leaving home. A product of Bubble Business, S.A., based on an original idea by architects Alex Mitxelena and Hugo Olaizola, directed by Saioa Olmo and produced by Amasté, the Bubble will be installed in the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid. To these three will be added the proposal from Sans Façon -Charles Blanc (Saint Etienne, France, 1974) and Tristan Surtees (Leeds, England, 1977)- for the raised Water Tank in the Plaza de Castilla: by playing with the architectural quality of the construction -the pillars will be covered with acrylic mirrors- a different perception of the object and its surroundings will be generated.

Together with the above projects selected from the international submissions, MADRID ABIERTO will contain interventions by El Perro, Maider López, etoy, Diana Larrea, Fernando Sánchez Castillo and 451. We shall thus encounter interventions alluding to normal urban communication systems like that of Maider López (San Sebastián, 1975) on the municipal advertising supports, the appropriation of a mythic image from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds by Diana Larrea (Madrid, 1972) on the façade of the Casa de América, via the most overtly political by Fernando Sánchez Castillo (Madrid, 1970) which, with the collaboration of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, will make one of the most emblematic monuments of the capital -Pietro Tacca’s equestrian statue of Philip IV in the Plaza de Oriente- accessible to pedestrians. Other projects with a more active participation are also included: the El Perro group who, after a public vote, propose the virtual demolition of some of the most representative buildings in the Paseo de la Castellan area, and etoy, a Swiss group who will instal the offices of their data-processing corporation in the Plaza de Colón to research the art market and initiate their own collection. The 451 team has designed the image and web-page of MADRID ABIERTO and is developing a specific project on all the applications and graphic identity of the programme.

There are also four associate projects: Luciano Matus (Mexico, D.F.,1971) will intervene in various interior and exterior spaces of the Casa de América; NEO2 magazine will include in its February issue a Madrid Abierto dossier that can be used as a programme for the event; in the audiovisual field, Metrópolis, broadcast weekly on Spanish Television’s second channel (a pioneer programme in Spain on contemporary culture specialized in the research and diffusion of the new artistic languages), will produce their own monograph on MADRID ABIERTO. This autonomous piece will then be presented in ARCO 2004 together with all the art interventions in the framework of Bulevares ARCO: Fragmentos de una ciudad interior, also produced as an associate project by the Sociedad Estatal para el Desarrollo del Diseño y la Innovación (D.Di).

January 2004.