Testimonia is not art

The phrase came with an exclamation mark, first page in the book of guests at the Manifesta International Foundation, in Amsterdam; related to the open doors exhibition presented in their offices, titled “Rooms with a view”. Whether I agree or not with the statement, I firstly thought it was generally exclaimed and not referred to the specific exhibition. The works presented are visual works of some sort, like paintings, sculptures and such, placed in the office rooms; nothing extravagant.

It seemed that just by reading in the introductory text … “a presentation of works by artists who have a special view on the relationship between culture, the visual arts and society” … “Some of the artworks present a direct critical attitude towards politics and culture – both in a historical and contemporary context – while others more indirectly react to mutual influences and human behaviour in general”… a nerve got tangled, a bit like auto-effect to the specific repertoire.

But, to the defence of the works, the socio-political effect is secondary, if present at all; that is if you don’t read the accompanying texts. I preferred to leave the reading for the train trip. It happens though often, to wonder what is made first; the artwork or the texts.

P.S. 1 It must be the interview with the contract killer that did it, by Aníbal López … “whose work made a strong impression at the dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel”… ; which I did not sit to watch. In this case, I would say that art prevails, the work already exists in the form of a literature jewel called “In cold blood” by T.Capote (ok, the killers are not hired but rather spontaneous, so the opposite); there you have art because the information is assimilated and worked out, given to the public as a solid self-explaining  piece; and with the aspiration of fulfilling an art form.

P.S. 2 The interview is titled “Testimonio”, video 43’27”, 2012

“RVDV01-0686” by Rinus van de Velde, charcoal on canvas, 140x200cm, 2012
“Covered Horse” by Fernando Sánchez Castillo, bronze, 33x19x12 cm, 2011

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