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Víctor Jaenada IN RESiDENCE at the School Les Corts
FIRST CONTACT WITH THE SCHOOL
The artist we worked with this year, Víctor Jaenada, had no previous experience as a teacher or in organising workshops for teenagers, but he was really interested from the beginning in participating in the residency and in the possibility of coming into direct contact with a class of pupils from this age group.
Víctor approached the residency with the intention of adapting in some way to the framework of the subject of Classical Culture, a subject taught by the teacher Maria Roig and which linked up to the project. This teacher's willingness to cooperate greatly our artist to decide what would be the dynamics of the early sessions, and the two decided jointly on a methodology for conducting the sessions. The teacher would introduce a theme from Classical Culture, and Víctor would propose a work or small project on this subject.
LANDING, FIRST CONTACT BETWEEN ARTIST AND PUPILS
The pupils begin the residency with a number of sessions devoted to researching into the artist and his work with the goal of drawing up a list of questions to ask Víctor the first day they meet him.
Since Víctor has an ongoing exhibition at the Balaguer Gallery (Hacer cosas – Doing Things), the artist is first introduced to the group when they visit this show (10/3/2016). There, besides meeting the artist, they pupils discover his work at first hand, learning that Víctor moves within the realm of the installation but with a lively, ever-changing approach. The visit is very useful, enabling them to see for themselves the transgressive nature of his work, and the mixture of everyday objects that establish a dialogue with waste from his personal life and with works in a more classical artistic language, such as paintings and drawings. The teacher asks each pupil to choose the work that most interests them and to take a photograph of it.
Besides visiting the exhibition, the group also sees Víctor’s studio, which is housed in the gallery site itself.
DEFINING THE THEMES AND EACH PUPIL’S MICROPROJECT
In view of the framework provided for the residency by the optional subject of Classical Culture, and that Víctor is interested in topics that can be linked to these studies, a session is organised to make a selection of “classic” themes that run through the history of humanity and which the pupils may also find interesting. A class discussion takes place in order to choose these themes. In the blog, one pupil describes Víctor’s as follows:
“We're going to link classical art with contemporary (strange) things”.
From all the possible themes, the following are chosen by vote and agreement with the artist: war, death, love, money and food.
From now on, each session is organised in terms of a microproject that revolves around one of these themes.
The discussion revolves around a documentary about the Spartans, which also focuses on contemporary photojournalism. Víctor asks the young people to produce drawings on the subject.
A discussion takes places about a documentary on food in the Classical Greek world, and Víctor suggests that the group could make an installation or game, drawing with breakfast sandwiches.
In groups, the young people decide on what medium or format they will use to work on this subject, what artforms they will adopt: one group creates a choreography, another a poster, a third a drawing and a fourth a film on the subject.
Víctor suggests writing a meditation on this subject: the text should reflect what they think about death, and what they imagine is behind it.
A discussion takes places on the theme of money, and Víctor suggests a work of researching into the advertising and products that FC Barcelona players endorse. The list of products and photos of the players are used to assemble a temporary pop-up installation in the school lobby. The experience is recorded on video, and pupils at the school who have seen it are asked their opinion.
Inspired by the fanzine format that Víctor often uses in his projects, the pupils are invited to create, in a critical spirit, photomontages and drawings on the theme of people who represent the idea of power to them. Each pupil designs one page in the fanzine.
VISIT TO MACBA
To round off the work on these themes and to continue breaking down the barriers in contemporary art and mark the beginning of the final project, the group makes a performative visit to MACBA with the artist and the teacher, a visit designed and conducted by the educator and artist Jordi Ferreiro (24/4/2017)
THE FINAL PROJECT: QUO VADIS - ON VAS (WHERE ARE YOU GOING?)
PROPOSAL AND PREPARATIONS
Towards May, Víctor begins to discuss with the group how to bring together, in a single space, the themes that they have worked on individually. They finally decide that this installation should be housed in the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). As the guiding thread running through the residency was the link between the classical and contemporary worlds, the artist updates the themes studied and interpreted by the young people and produces an illustration. To the same end, Víctor suggests taking a photograph of the whole group in which these two threads come together. The pupils agree that this photograph should be the element that focuses and links all the elements in the installation. Although there were many ups and downs over the course of the residency, with times when the pupils did not really understand the links between the themes they were working on, during the final stages there was a good understanding with the artist and an excellent spirit of cooperation aimed at bringing the final project to fruition.
VISIT TO THE GRISART SCHOOL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND MAKING OF THE FINAL PHOTO FOR THE PROJECT
Víctor suggests the idea of taking a professional studio photograph in which the pupils dress as Romans and place objects and elements that talk about their generation, which will be mixed with features from the imagery of the Greco-Roman world: grapes, laurels, wine, etc. A day is scheduled to use the photographic set at the Grisart international school of photography (5/5/2017). Since this is a photograph of a very large class, the pupils pose in groups of three. The school director accompanies them on a visit to the school, tells them about the specialities that are taught there, and shows them around the facilities. The pupils are very enthusiastic about this contact with the world of professional photography and Víctor Jaenada’s role in coordinating all the work on the set.
VISIT TO THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, ROUTE AROUND THE WORKS STUDIED OVER THE COURSE IN THE COLLECTION, AND VISIT TO THE SITE WHERE THE INSTALLATION WILL BE LOCATED
A visit to the museum is planned (29/5/2017), with two goals. The first is to follow a route around the collections focusing on the six themes that the group studied during the course. This is a guided visit that includes discussion with the artist about war, power, love, money, love and death.
The second goal of the visit is to see the space where the final project will be installed and carry out direct interventions, such as the graffiti on one of the doors.
FINAL SESSIONS AT THE SCHOOL
During the final sessions, Víctor recruits the assistance of the pupils in various tasks linked to the project. For example, he asks them to rewrite their texts about death on a large, quality sheet of paper so that they can form part of the installation at the museum.
By this time, the pupils have reached a very clear idea about how Víctor works. Everything they have don up to now are all ingredients in a project that comes to fruition at the end, though there may be changes. The photograph of the group shows the distribution of the elements in the space more clearly. Besides the sessions at the school, the artist also creates new features to add to the installation in the museum.
ASSEMBLY AND PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT QUO VADIS - ON VAS
Assembly in the space adjoining the Oval Room, with the help of museum staff.
Presentation, with the artist, the teachers Maria Roig and Lluïsa Trueba and the pupils from IES Les Corts secondary school at 6 pm on May 31 at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia, MNAC).