Pablo Martínez holds a PhD in art history, for which he carried out an investigation into the images of the crowds taken at the funeral of Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti. He works with a postdoctoral contract at the Institute of History of CSIC, the Spanish National Research Council. Over the last decade, his institutional work has sought to challenge the limits of the museum in order to imagine an eco-social institutionality. He was Director of Programmes at MACBA (2016–2021), and prior to this he was Head of Education and Public Activities at CA2M (2009–2016). Between 2012 and 2015 he worked as an associate professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He has edited books, curated performances, activated collective processes of creation, accompanied artists in residence and curated exhibitions. He has also negotiated with neighbours, protested against the extension of the MACBA building, moved chairs, placed bottles of water, made applications and danced until sunset. His current research and practice is oriented towards the ecological crisis and the role of art in the construction of a new hegemony that might enable a less violent and more just transition. He tries to go out dancing whenever he can.
Exercices of institutional imagination. Towards an eco-socialist museum
In 1989, Félix Guattari stated that any effective response to the looming ecological crisis would have to be “on a global scale” by means of a “political, social and cultural revolution”. In times of crisis, like the current one, it is crucial to emphasize the central role of culture in preventing the destruction of the planet, as noted by Guattari. That is, he claimed that such a revolution should not only concern large-scale visible relations, but also “the molecular domains of sensibility, intelligence and desire”. These fall precisely within the realm of art, and by extension - the museum, which is one of the fundamental spaces for envisioning possible worlds to come. The museum can play a key role in shaping subjectivities as well as constructing imaginaries and collective culture. Shared imaginaries give meaning to and structure our social reality, and they can help determine our collective hopes and dreams, so we should acknowledge the power of the museum as an utopian space. No revolution can triumph without desire, and no newly-constructed world can possibly endure if it does not also change sensibilities. If Arthur Rimbaud, the poet of the Commune, called for a kind of art that would “change life”, then, to do so in today’s world, we have to turn our desires on their head: we must resist the urges of blind consumption, we must build cooperative communities, and thus aim to redefine the very notions of freedom, equality, redistribution and limits. With these considerations in mind, as well as the ongoing crisis of the museum as an institution, two vital questions emerge: what sort of museum do we want in today’s world? And then, what sort of world do we want to build, from within the museum? The first question invites us to build a museum that is conscious of its own material reality and ecological impact, so its practices can be modified and defined accordingly. The second question highlights the power of art in forming subjectivities and constructing shared imaginaries that might “change life”. In this seminar we will discuss the possibilities of the eco-social museum as well as the limits and unsustainability of the modern cultural paradigm.
Each mentor will work closely with one program participant over several months, critically reflecting on their artistic practice, its relationship to this particular moment, and possible paths it might take in the future. Pablo Martínez will collaborate with artist Luna Acosta.