Antoni Muntadas

Entrevista a Antoni Muntadas por Sara Donoso

Sara Donoso: In this edition of INTERSECCIÓN 2021 we want to focus on urban rhythms, exploring their memories and social organization charts. It is something that is very present in your work. Throughout your career, what has interested you in these questions?

Antoni Muntadas: I consider myself urban, I am someone who lives and works in cities, which have always been an element of echo and repercussion. Over time, this has led me to develop a series of works in which the city has been a point of reference, such as in the exhibition Muntadas Projects (1974-2004). On Translation: Spaces of Memory (Bremen, 2004) or in the projects Museum Stadt (Galerie De Lege Ruimte, Brugge, 1991) and Ville Musée (Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris, 1991) of which I made different later versions … On the other hand, the fact that my projects are developed in cities already forms a totally defined relationship with the context and diverse aspects arise that have to do with the sociological part, the urban, etc. 

SD: Cities and their flows end up generating certain spaces for thought, as well as dualities (public / private, self / other) that can lead to both individual and collective insecurities. It is something that is evident in pieces such as On Translation: Fear / Miedo (2005) or On Translation: Miedo / Jauf (2007), where you reflect on the construction of fear. If we focus on these two films, what aspects would you say they have in common and how do they differ?

AM: The work on fear begins with On Translation: Fear / Miedo from observing what happens on the border between Tijuana and San Diego. I was interested in working on fear as a counterpoint to the concept of violence; for me fear occurs before and after violence. The relationship on the border is clear and fear is not dealt with in the same way from south to north as from north to south. Later, this work was developed between Tarifa and Tanger (On translation: Miedo / Jauf) where the situation is very different, since the main border element is the sea.
There are also many similar things, although in the case of Miedo / Jauf religion is added, with all the implications of Islam, which complicates the relationship with politics.

SD:And in the case of Alphaville e outros (2011)? There is also a certain relationship with the other pieces.

AM:It is a work that was developed in Brazil several years later but it is part of all that series of works that draw the territory of the construction of fear. I have long been aware that fear has been a driving and manipulative element, especially at a political level.

SD:It is closely related to the concept of power.

AM: Yes. Power controls, manipulates and uses fear to achieve its goals. There is a clear relationship between them. Being a sometimes personal, subjective sensation, it includes characteristics that are related to the social and the political.

SD: We also find an interesting analysis about public space in On Translation: Açik Radyo (2010). Developed in Istanbul, in this proposal you actively introduce the role of the artist, since creators from different European countries have participated. I would like to ask you about teamwork and the rhythms of each project when different agents come into play.

AM: I was invited to Istanbul in 2010 to work for two years on a project. I spent the first year getting to know the context in depth and working with an established team in the city. From the material I had gathered, during the second year I began to think about the development. I was interested in putting Açik Radyo at the center. It is a totally alternative radio that survives political situations, a very interesting project. I decided to work with and for them creating four radio programs based on myth, stereotype, cultural structure in Istanbul and censorship. These programs were made through Açik Radyo and provided the basis for later making the video. All of this was edited using scenes from the radio and other elements that I filmed, everything makes up a team project and a very strong editing job.
What was interesting about this work, which I consider a public space project because radio was involved, is that Açik Radyo ended up appropriating it and used it as their own element. I think the problem with works in public space is that if there is no one who appropriates it, who makes it their own, it makes no sense.

SD: You mention the editing work, it is something decisive in your work, which always starts with very long processes.

AM: For me the edit, or the selection of materials for the final work, is what defines the work. It is the moment when all the decisions are made and where the work is finished. What must be shown is the synthesis of the process, whether in painting, photography or any other medium. In the case of video or cinema it is essential.

SD: Another piece that we will see in INTERSECCIÓN is Video is Television? a work from 1989 where the images merge as in a kaleidoscopic game in which the words “manipulation”, “context”, “fragment” or “audience” appear. What reading do you make of this work in the present moment?

AM: It is a work on what I call media landscape. The final video includes images from television, cinema, videos of myself and other artists…. A collage where the word affects the image and builds certain connections. I believe that the works are linked to the time in which they are made, but I believe that this piece is still valid because it talks about the relationship between images and words.

SD: Finally, I would like to comment on the phrase “perception requires involvement” that is repeated as a leitmotif in your work and you have used it in different formats and contexts since the 90s. You mentioned before, in relation to Açik Radyo, the importance of the fact that the public appropriates the works. I would like to know if you have noticed any difference between the viewer of today and the public of a few decades ago.

AM: The works are elements to be perceived, observed, discussed, criticized… The audience has expanded and this in part has to do with the media. Both in the cultural environment and in the strictly artistic environment, there are more people who participate. Another thing is the quality of that perception, but it is a very personal matter. As I say, “perception requires involvement”, the more we get involved, the more possibilities there are to understand the work. Everything is defined by the passivity or activity of the spectator. Perhaps we have gained in audience numbers but also in passivity numbers.


Antoni Muntadas interview by Sara Donoso

Antoni Muntadas

This year INTERSECCIÓN devotes a focus to Antoni Muntadas, reviewing the city and its idiosyncrasy in the light of the work of this artist who has dedicated a large part of his career to delve into the construction of fear, the borders and the architecture of power.

Saturday 30 oct | 21:00 – 22:30h

Fundación Luís Seoane

Sunday 31 oct | 16:30 – 18:30h

Fundación Luís Seoane

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