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1+1+1…: ‘The Second Journey’ by Irene de Andrés

— Curated by Blanca del Río

10 — 22 November 2020

1+1+1…: ‘The Second Journey’ by Irene de Andrés
Irene de Andrés, 'El Segundo Viaje', 2015-17. Still from video, courtesy of the artist

The video 'They Second Journey' by artist Irene de Andrés is part of the delocalized itinerary 1+1+1..., that will unfold throughout different venues in the Gothic and El Born neighborhoods from November 10th to 22nd.

Christopher Columbus made two voyages before reaching the island of Puerto Rico in 1493. In order to develop this project, artist Irene de Andrés had to travel twice to the island as well. There were two days of Puerto Rican independence before it became US territory in 1898, and, finally, two are the videos that make up this piece: El Segundo Viaje (2015-2017)

The island of Puerto Rico, one of the last Spanish colonies, is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. El Segundo Viaje takes this territory as pretext and context to analyze the neo-colonial relations that have been established in the island through exploitative tourism. Through a collage of images, the project explores the region’s recent changes and investigates the transformations of its forms of representation.

The two videos in El Segundo Viaje are made from fragments of other audiovisual pieces. The first one contains images from Puerto Rico’s official archives, dating from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The second video consists of a series of images collected by the artist during the trips she made to the island in 2015 and 2017. For the second part of the project, de Andrés collaborated in the production process with the Beta Local association. The artist’s work is generally concerned with the historical evolution of the concept of leisure, which connects to travel–spanning from the first settlers to contemporary mass tourism. These concerns reveal a fragment of the artist’s biography, since her place of origin, Ibiza, is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Spain.

The montage of the piece questions the meaning obtained through cutting, interposing, dismantling, and joining images with disparate chronological times. It also reveals that by exposing the discontinuities of the image itself and providing a montage of different historical moments, the piece reveals a more complex representation of the Puerto Rican territory. In this way, the artist’s research focuses on how postcolonial politics changed the island’s landscape, in particular its international depiction, managing to reveal, through repeating motifs and places, some of the paradoxes of this construction. The videos show how colonial monuments and ruins of the Spanish empire have become tourist attractions. We can see the port of San Juan, through which the colonists’ galleons once entered, now receive tourist cruise ships. In addition, architectural elements, such as fortresses, that once played an essential role in territorial defense, have now become postcards.

Some of the questions being dealt with in El Segundo Viaje bring to mind issues happening in the context of the project’s exhibition: Barcelona and the Frederic Marès Museum. Currently, Barcelona is in full debate about tourism’s viability as an economic staple for the city. In addition, the museum is located in the Gothic Quarter, one of the areas that has suffered the most transformation due to recent tourist pressure. El Segundo Viaje invites us to ask questions about the city’s representation; the governing of a late-capitalist city whose image is that of a spectacle territory, and whose urban transformation has organized its tangled medieval cartography. It invites us to challenge neighbor’s being dislodged, undocumented immigrants being harassed, and shops, restaurants, and hotels being constructed for tourist consumption. It also makes us wonder about surviving colonial monuments in the city’s landscape, as part of its tourist circuits.

Blanca del Río

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