I’ve recently returned from the opening of Manifesta 8, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, in the region of Murcia, Spain. Working over the last year and a half with my good friend and colleague Bassam El Baroni as Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF), we curated a multi-part project and exhibition in several venues across two cities in the region of Murcia, Spain. We were aided immensely by the Manifesta team, including our curatorial assistant, Yolande Riquelme, a young curator from Murcia.
To be as concise as possible, what we did was raise the question: How can any art project genuinely touch on the sophisticated and haphazard web of life’s complexity? To understand complexity, it is not enough just to possess the ability to be critical, and it can only be part of a more disciplined and strategic act. For the exhibition OVERSCORE, we aim to conceive, build and implement a curatorial interface which firstly outlines those elements hindering the emergence of complexity in art, and then to describe the strategies for projects seeking to embody it. The Theory of Applied Enigmatics is that interface. Here, the term ‘Enigmatics’ refers to ideas and proposals which appear or resonate from a confrontation with complexity.
An overscore is a line drawn through words. It partially erases them but also shows an ongoing process of editing; it reveals and obscures the past, while establishing links with what emerges in the present and future. Similarly, The Theory of Applied Enigmatics both highlights and seeks to revise the accepted institutional blueprints – those idealistic and often subconscious models which are used to simplify bigger issues concerning life, people, places, events, history and culture within artistic practice today. It also acts as the mechanism connecting the intellectual input of a diverse array of artists and contributors. The theory offers itself to the visitor as a key with which s/he can unlock the underlying frameworks of history, culture and politics existing in, and between, the artists’ works.
Former Post Office
Running for a period of 100 days, Manifesta 8 will be taking place in the cities of Murcia and Cartagena in historical buildings, museums, unconventional spaces and several media channels. Manifesta 8 is curated by three independent curatorial collectives, each of them developing a project as an autonomous curatorial contribution. The collectives are ACAF, Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS) and tranzit.org.
Central Hall, Former Post Office