"If we are in agreement about anything these days, a large majority of us would say that we are going through a critical moment in our history. A time of crisis. Affected by this situation, the world of culture is suffering quite a lot more than just painful, economic cuts. Today, any cultural, artistic or intellectual activity that fails to bring an immediate profit, measureable in economic terms, is considered to be parasitic".
The Grey Flag project was conceived in that context. It began exactly four years ago out of a need to issue a message, loud and clear, in defence of culture and art. The project took the form of a banner made with an enormous piece of canvas measuring 10x10 metres, placed on the façade of the museum, converting this public building into an active agent of communications within the context of the city.
The museum, which is a space for analysis and reflection, sent out an incisive message from the art world.The aim was to issue a warning designed to provoke and incite the public to react and reflect on this matter. That canvas, based on a piece by Kepa Garraza, was the first of a series of messages that have appeared successively on the façade of the museum until the present day. This programme has been curated by the museum’s team of professionals and features works presented for the first time today as part of the Collection they gave rise to.
Project, collaboration and heritage
The art object, which forms part of the public heritage (having a patrimonial value as a collectable object), often coincides with its value in use, the exhibition object and transmitter of the message-idea on which it is based. Nevertheless, in the case of these works, a split is proposed between both forms of valuation. The visible and objective part of this project as experience, its value as meaning, lies in a review of 20 large canvases that were installed and displayed on the exterior of the museum.
However, at the same time, the works exhibited here today are the object that enters the Collection, the manufactured object that safeguards their exchange value. This fact does not constitute in itself an isolated or remarkable truth, but it does indeed illustrate with complete clarity what is an increasingly habitual practice in the world of culture and also of the museum itself. It is necessary to highlight the value of experience as heritage, an immaterial heritage that has to be fed and recorded, in order to convert it into memory capable of being shared; intangible, but as real or even more real than the physical object …
Grey Flag operates, therefore, both as a compendium of efforts in which the museum is the catalyst of the action. The project has been constructed through this collaboration between all those involved and is the basis for a new way of working, with the participation of the artists, corporations and society itself. What lies behind this initiative is the need to communicate, to send out a message, and this has been possible thanks to the collaboration with a collector who shares with the museum the same way of understanding art and the latter’s capacity to organise our awareness. The involvement of artists, and their gallery-owners, has facilitated the consolidation of the idea in the physical object that is exhibited now.
These objects have become the property of the sponsor and have been deposited in the ARTIUM Collection. An amalgamation of different interests, a way of doing things that is ever more participative and necessarily transparent that aims to convey to society the need for art, culture and, if possible, to re-habilitate; we will return the trust put in us and provide society with a more inhabitable space.
Curator: Enrique Martínez Goikoetxea
Artists: Kepa Garraza, Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa, Laurina Paperina, Artemio, Francesc Ruiz, Ruth Gómez, Martín & Sicilia, Alain Urrutia, Priscila de Carvalho, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra, Txaro Arrazola, Regina de Miguel, Ixone Sádaba, Javier Arce, Sandra Gamarra, Carlos Irijalba, Edurne Herrán, Judas Arrieta