Cycle: Explicit silence

Espai 13

Exhibition program
Cycle: Explicit silence
Curated by

The title of this season's programme refers to a way of understanding silence that subverts the semantics of the term to turn it into a clamour. It also points to the deliberate, positive gesture that dissociates silence from abstraction to transform it into an action or a fact that is very close to renunciation but without giving in to it, that seeks to denote its presence and is content to watch itself from its own abyss. Thus conceived, silence functions as a metaphor for the paradigm shift, escaping from the often limiting meanings given to it by tradition and by cultural behaviour. It is a silence that adjoins words but does not oppose them, in the same way as it does not oppose sound, action, light or movement.

Silence is a phenomenon whose openly contradictory nature turns it into the paradox par excellence and into that slippery term regarding which Bataille wrote: "Of all words, it is the most poetic and the most perverse: it is itself the proof of its own death." As a consequence of this condition, silence is a chameleon-like concept, essentially polysemous and non-absolute, that transcends the merely physical or acoustic, and whose meaning varies radically depending on its context.

The search for silence, for "the furthest extension of that reluctance to communicate" that Susan Sontag wrote of, has been a constant premise in contemporary art ever since it focused on exploring its own limits. From Kasimir Malevich, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein to James Lee Byars, Michael Asher, Robert Barry and Juan Muñoz, contemporary artists have postulated silence, reduction, nothingness, pause, absence, disappearance, invisibility, emptiness, non-action or renunciation, without having exhausted them. In art, silence is still today a frontier, an absolutely free territory, hardly explored and yet to be mapped. 

In collaboration with:

  • 987 Barcelona Hotel
  • ComRàdio
  • El Periódico