press release

A historical grouping of work that was once cutting-edge and has become classical receives little attention in this period of blockbuster, monographic retrospectives. This eclectic group of international artists and their provocative work remind us of art's disruptive potential upon our consciousness. This power for intellectual disruption might have been the subtext for the exhibition's conceptual framework as well for the selection of the artists. That is the basic goal of the project: to reveal how a group of artists 40 years ago had the vision to look at art in alternative ways - a crucial stance for our own times as well. In their work, land was only the catalyst for change, including the use of the electronic media in the art.

Clearly relevant to the current generation of artists interested in ecology and the environment Landscape as an Idea: Projects and Projections: l960-l980 is a re-evaluation about the interest in ecology in light of Conceptualism and electronic media. The idea of this exhibition developed slowly over the course of three years and produced by Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea exhibition gallery, Landscape as an Idea wants to show the contemporary audience how land and ecology issues became the subject of innovative and imaginative art within a specific, historical context.

Today, following decades of rampant industrialization and much talk but little action on the effects of pollution, high population density, radioactive waste and the contamination of our air and water, the warning siren again sounds. It does so loudly and in high definition, on film and LCD screens. The news arrives daily in our living rooms.

Contemporary artists have addressed environmental change and in recent years museums and galleries have shown works in a variety of formats which ask questions about ecology. Though many are provocative, most follow the conventions of today's art; they are not trying to explore new ways of art making or taking critical stances about the role of art in society. Many recent works displayed under the umbrella of ecology address the planet's deterioration, but we could almost compare them to realist paintings, lacking the force to pit the language of the real against that of the symbolic.

Landscape as an Idea: Projects and Projections: l960-80 exhibits a group of artists and artworks that for over two decades have demonstrated a desire to expand the possibilities of art and challenge the limits of museum and gallery walls. They also demonstrated a longing for their art to be understood, rather than consumed. This point has long been controversial since most of their work, even that created in remote places, was well-documented with drawings, photography or film which was ultimately exhibited in conventional spaces and entered the art market. Landscape as an Idea includes drawings, collage, photography and video by artists customarily associated with Land Art: Robert Smithson, Richard Long, Jan Dibbets, Hamish Fulton, Dennis Oppenheim and Nancy Holt. To fully grasp the contribution of this art, for which there is no single unifying principle, the exhibition also includes artists who are not normally cited in books on Land Art, such as Anna Mendieta, whose work is regularly discussed in terms of bodily and identity questions, and filmmaker Chris Welsby, whose interest in landscape and in the scientific investigation of complex system nature, pushed his practice in directions beyond what we commonly know as British structural film.

The exhibition also includes three other artists, Agnes Denes and the duo Helen and Newton Harrison, whose work is usually situated in the related area of Environmental or Ecological Art. Because their prescient art is not well-known in Spain, they have been given a large space in the exhibition.

Land Art (1969) includes short pieces - between two and six minutes each - of Richard Long, Barry Flanagan, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, Marinus Boezem, Jan Dibbets and Walter De Maria. Land Art, commissioned by Germany's Channel One, was viewed by Schum as an intervention that would surpass the market and surprise an audience, as well encouraging the idea that television and video had already created a new medium of communication.

This exhibition also includes letters, photos, posters and invitations -- just a tiny selection of the most impressive archives of Egidio Marzona which he generously made available.

Landscape as an Idea
Projects and Projections: 1960-1980
Kurator: Berta Sichel

Künstler: Joseph Beuys, Jane Crawford / Robert Fiore, Walter De Maria, Agnes Denes, Jan Dibbets, Barry Flanagan, Hammish Fulton, Helen Harrison / Newton Harrison, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Stephen Kaltenbach, Richard Long, Anthony McCall, Ana Mendieta, Dennis Oppenheim, Gerry Schum, Robert Smithson, Chris Welsby