A Letter (Barcelona)
When I heard that ALKU was going to curate an exhibition at Hamburg’s Westwerk, I was reminded of Lorenzo Senni’s concert at the Ex-Dogana in Rome, when the laser was up to our necks. I was afraid that I would go blind, half by accident, half on purpose (death drive!) – Both born in the 1970s and living in Barcelona, ANNA RAMOS and ROC JIMÉNEZ DE CISNEROS have been running the artists’ collective ALKU since the late 1990s, which is presumably named after the Finnish word for beginning. ALKU is also a platform for audio releases, publications and audiovisual installations. Its roots go in many directions and have spread – following its premise of collective work – both in pop and academic contexts. In 2014, the aforementioned Italian multimedia artist Senni recorded a tape for them, containing minimalist updates of trance classics from the 1990s. This release is an example of ALKU’s conceptual play with the audio format (in addition to compact cassettes, the releases appear on vinyl, CD and as downloads), the graphic interface (the design of the physical and digital products follows a strict colour and font aesthetic) and the cultural heritage of music history (which is exquisitely demonstrated by Jiménez de Cisneros’ collaborative project EVOL and his own research into the abyss of electronic dance music). In addition to the recordings, theoretical publications are released, which certainly derive from Anna Ramos’ work as director of the radio project at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. This project, Ràdio Web MACBA (also known as RWM), is internationally unique: a radio beyond radios that moves along the intersections of critical thinking, contemporary art, artistic research, activism and pure sound. Listening to the programmes or reading the texts and endless lists of renowned guests will make your head spin, and I am pleased that ALKU has invited artists such as ANNA IRINA RUSSELL and ALBERT TARRATS, who are also based in Barcelona and part of their local Radio Working Group, as well as Austrian RENI HOFMÜLLER who has collaborated with this special radio station by producing lovingly meticulous podcasts. All three were invited for their work on, or about, the term “folding”. For Ramos and Jiménez de Cisneros, folding is one of the most contemporary techniques for reflecting on reductions of complexity: “Every time we imagine the impossible ... we curve and flex what we consider possible. Every time we modify our conception of reality, we actually perform a folding operation”.
Anna Irina Russell works with the cultural significance of play, seeking to engage the viewer through interactions and thus decipher social constructions. Based on the premise of the curatorial team, she has designed an installation that modifies the footage of a surveillance camera, which will be mounted on the outside wall of the Westwerk.
Albert Tarrats’ installations challenge listening habits and the perception of space and for this exhibition he has developed a foldable sound object, among other things.
Reni Hofmüller has been a radio activist for many decades and exhibits a mobile, yet spatially sprawling antenna whose transmitter and receiver are modelled after the shape of her hand lines.
Roc Jiménez de Cisneros will also take part in the exhibition, by designing a series of sculptures resembling Cheeto crisps, designed especially for Papiripar. He will also show a new version of his laser installations, in which overlapping sounds create hypnotic patterns. Please write back soon! Why don’t you also fold yourself into the envelope, so that we can go crazy together one more time? Like back then in Rome!