The Brussels branch of the Instituto Cervantes, the artist Jota Castro and Argos are pleased to announce “Something more than words”, a series of artists’ talks and rigorous analysis of art and its context from a Latin-American cultural perspective.

The project consists of a series of encounters with nine internationally acclaimed Spanish and Latin- American artists and the public. It aims to shed light on their diverse practices through “something more than words”. Each encounter will feature a screening of works by the artist, followed by a discussion between the project’s organiser, Jota Castro, and the artist.

Is it meaningful to analyse artistic processes from the perspective of a cultural community structured by the use of a common language? The beginning of this century has confirmed tendencies already nascent at the end of the previous century: notably, the globalisation of contemporary art and art strategies; as well as circulation, promotion, exhibition and sales. But what about production?

The artists who are participating in this series belong to a nomadic generation, which moves habitually between biennials, museums and cities worldwide. Their work is predominantly conceptually-based, and is assembled, disassembled, reassembled virtually for every presentation ; it forms part of their creative identity and – at times - may travel with them in their baggage. Spanish and Latin American artists do not necessarily respond to issues suggested by or lacking from their immediate surroundings and their expressions are not through local networks. Even so, their own particular social reality does not dissipate, rather, it overlaps with the ‘virtual’ reality of their art. The recontextualisation which occurs with each artistic presentation, and the work’s relationship to the spaces in which it is exhibited, ends up turning it into an experience that is not only real, but perhaps also ephemeral, displaced… Or could it be that it also becomes meaningless? The critic Donald Kuspit suggests something along these lines when he states that “modern art is decadent, narcissistic, meaningless, valueless”. Once it becomes a consumer good, an investment or an amusement, is art anything more than the latest luxury item?

In truth, the voices which are most critical of today’s art come from the art world itself, from many influential – and for many people, reactionary critics (apart from Kuspit, people like Michael Reid or Hilton Kramer) and also from a wide range of political authorities. Although their disapproval is not targeted at specific artists or concrete works, rather, demagogically, at art itself, merely for having been born.

It may be that today’s art has been gradually moving away from the concerns of society as a whole, but it is hard to deny its connection to life itself, to the complexity of our experience of continual intellectual and moral alarm. It is no accident that the majority of the artists taking part in “Something more than words” are aficionados of performance as a form of artistic expression.

The ‘purity’ of performance – which is impossible without the complicity of the spectator – and its subversive spirit, have rendered it one of the most ubiquitous art form of our times. In galleries, biennials, museums, public and private spaces, in its own right or with the added ‘ingredients’ of video, installations, sound or photography, it is difficult to find an art event which does not include, in some form or other, elements of performance, in one of its many manifestations.

The urgency of the kind of art which is created and exists only in the presence of an audience is a passion which unites all the artists in the series. They all attempt to challenge the commercial nature of the art market, and its link with the overarching commercial nature of late capitalism, as the only ethically possible response to these modern times. A challenge which has become a battle – of symbols – for the appropriation of authentic fundamental meanings ; meanings relating to identity, which demand a revision of history itself, a redrawing of borders and a reinstatement of one’s own language in the face of the languages of power, be it business or politics.

“Something more than words” aims to provide insight into the understanding of the creative output of eight key Spanish and Latin American artists. Because, in spite of the trends of globalisation in art, an understanding of any artwork will be enhanced by information about its creator, about the conditions in which it was produced, or about the context from which it arose. “Something more than words” aims to provide a rigorous analysis of the art and of its context: mass culture, the political framework and the exercise of power in major art events.

05/05 Tania Bruguera (Cuba)
09/05 Democracia (Spain)
16/05 Santiago Cirugeda (Spain)
23/05 Fernando Bryce (Peru)
30/05 Dora García (Spain)
06/06 Federico Guzmán (Spain)
13/06 Yoshua Okón (Mexico)
20/06 Sergio Vega (Argentina)
27/06 Teresa Margolles (Mexico)

The artists talks are curated by Jota Castro

In the late 1990s Jota Castro brought his career as a diplomat at the United Nations and the European Union to a close and decided to devote himself totally to the field of art. Through his different professional activities, Castro gained in-depth knowledge of the world of politics; moreover, he considers his studies in law and political science as his real training in art. Conjuring up trivial humor, politically incorrect sarcasm, and a wide range of references, Castro’s sculptures, installations, and performances point up certain mechanisms at work in society, whose imbalances and weaknesses are skillfully highlighted by the artist. Castro’s works reinterpret facts connected with current events along with the artist’s personal history.


Alice's backyard  
  • za 05.5.2007 - wo 27.6.2007