In the Barcelona’s Museu d’Art Contemporani, one of the few museums open on a Monday, three exhibitions are advertised. Below is Andrea Fraser’s ‘L’1%, c’est moi’. The American artist Andrea Fraser is a performer and conceptual artist. The walls and film images of the first room I enter look like the contents of a cardboard box under my desk and my computer archive – museum leaflets, exhibitions, artists’ flyers and maps from museums in Europe and more. There is a monitor showing soft porn. It is a common-place sexual encounter between Andrea Fraser with a collector or gallery owner. They made the sex video appointment for €20,000, – Edition 5. The first copy was for the client, simply recorded from an oblique camera point above the bed. Literally, ‘screw your way to the top’, but slowly by all accounts, as the video lasts one hour.
There is a lot of theory. I stand at a large table with chairs around it and cuttings and books full of notes on it. We come to a room whose wall is completely covered with pay slips. Another wall is also available to study: Antoni Muntadas from Barcelona shows a number of colour photographs of locations within a large rectangle. Inside, a hall or a room or outside on the street, a busy road or a lane. In each of the black-framed pictures, there is a smaller black and white photo of the same location but at a different time. They are pictures from the media of attacks, demonstrations, murder, special, political and violent events, for example, a place where a car bomb has exploded, an empty hall and a place where flowers lie in memoriam. It allows you to think about society and history in general, but also that you never know what can happen in a place, wherever you are.
In the hall above the staircase is a large white metal sprung bed frame, twice life-size, hanging at right angles to the wall. All around are several smaller wooden framed bed bases, with a grey blanket and some pillows hanging below. This ‘Sudden Awakening’, as the work of Antoni Tàpies is called, is a relief in the exhibition of abstractions and somewhat well-intentioned pop art or conceptual art. It is best not to hurry; you see yourself as, or feel like, the person sleeping on the bed awaking from your dream. Here you are. In Barcelona. On a high white staircase.
The third exhibition in the building across the street is called, ‘I will fear no evil’. The Venezuelan artist José Antonio Hernández-Díez displays special installations in which death plays a role.
All concepts come together in my head for ‘The Horror Art Files’ or ‘The Blackmail Archive’. It is exactly such a ‘Sudden Awakening’ as that of Tàpies; confronting a shocking reality. Everything is revealed. The archives of leaflets and flyers from museums and exhibitions, the wall with pay slips. The Andrea Fraser Sex-video tapes show the most intimate side of herself, just like Tracey Emin with her bed and her lovers. Hernández-Díez’s evil is supplemented with the horror of The Chapman brothers and the violence of Ronald Ophuis, the crime locations for the Rob Scholte Car bomb and where Andy Warhol was shot. These are compromising matters in the art world; from falsification, nepotism, tax fraud up to Donald Trump who buys his portrait with charity money. Van Gogh’s ear preserved in formaldehyde. Poison, drugs and alcohol play a role in this frozen image that can suggest a burglary.
Joris Baudoin, 2017