press release

The exhibition project MEAN STREETS sets out to provide the most global and interdisciplinary view possible of how the representation of public space, the city streets and squares, evolved during the last century. Streets are one of the most important parts of the urban fabric; their alterations, events and structures are fundamental for understanding essential aspects of city life. A knowledge of the processes of alteration and change that have taken place in the streets in recent decades will help us to gain a better and more complete understanding of human experiences and feelings.

The path followed by MEAN STREETS takes the beginning of the twenty-first century as its starting point and goes on (or back) to the early decades of the twentieth century. The journey consists of four basic parts, which show the different moods, attitudes and behaviour that have provided the essential structure of life in Western cities. It takes us from the jubilation and confidence of the 1920s and 1930s to the apathy and unbelief of recent years.

The four parts of the project are the following:

1) The Party’s Over This section includes expressions of art produced in recent years, revealing an attitude of estrangement and urban solitariness. The most contemporary proposals are included here, offering a more despairing, fragile view of life in the city, with works by Allan Sekula, Jeff Wall, Rem Koolhaas, Paul Graham, Michael Ashkin, Grupo de Arte Callejero, Gabriel Basilico and Peter Eisenman, among others.

2) The Street Is Ours This part concentrates on the art produced by various artists who in their work (basically from the 1970s to the 1990s) expressed the desire of various sectors of society to make themselves visible and occupy city streets and squares. Here we find work by artists and architects such as Cindy Sherman, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Martha Rosler, David Wojnarowicz, William Kentridge, Aldo van Eyck, Gillian Wearing and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others.

3) Between Utopia and Disenchantment This section focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, taking a look at visionary architectural projects which understood that the city should be free of all ties, and also at other more pessimistic or disenchanted proposals. We see work by Guy Debord, Dan Graham, Peter Cook, Vito Acconci, Constant, Gordon Matta-Clark, Yona Friedman and Edward Ruscha.

4) Amidst the Crowd Here we find the faith in progress and modernity that marked the building of cities in the first half of the twentieth century, and the appearance of the crowd in their streets. Photographs by César Domela, Valentina Kulagina, Gustav Klutsis, Paul Joostens, Walker Evans and Horacio Coppola are placed in relation with drawings and watercolours by George Grosz and a contemporary installation by Carlos Garaicoa.

The exhibition sets out from an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the city and the (mean) streets of which it consists. Different forms of visual art (such as photography, video and drawing) are supported and complemented by a wide-ranging selection of films (including La Haine, La Zona, Rumble Fish, Do the Right Thing, Metropolis, Play Time, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and Man with a Movie Camera), literary works (by writers such as Don DeLillo, Roberto Bolaño, Carlos Monsiváis, Tom Spanbauer, J. G. Ballard, Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce and Alfred Döblin) and songs (by Boris Vian, Ella Fitzgerald, Laura Nyro, David Bowie, The Smiths, Lou Reed, Chemical Brothers and Public Enemy) from the various periods that are covered, offering the fullest and most extensive possible view of how life in the streets of Western cities was represented during the last century.

José Miguel G. Cortés

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Allan Sekula, Jeff Wall, Rem Koolhaas, Paul Graham, Michael Ashkin, Grupo de Arte Callejero , Gabriele Basilico, Peter Eisenman, Cindy Sherman, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Martha Rosler, David Wojnarowicz, William Kentridge, Aldo van Eyck, Gillian Wearing, Wolfgang Tillmans, Guy Debord, Dan Graham, Peter Cook, Vito Acconci, Constant , Gordon Matta-Clark, Yona Friedman, Ed Ruscha, Cesar Domela, Valentina Kulagina, Gustav Klucis, Paul Joostens, Walker Evans, Horacio Coppola, George Grosz, Carlos Garaicoa ...