In these increasingly standardised times in which the mass media holds sway, our individual space of action and definition is becoming more and more limited and subject to strict codes. There is only the mirroring of a space for individual presentation, which in fact allows us to act more as consumers than as private persons. Within this context, the notion of obsession is considered a quality that, precisely in order to reinforce an extremely personal definition of values, acquires negative connotations associated with an excessive fascination for ideas, affinities, convictions, goals or satisfactions that are artificial or mere substitutes.
Nevertheless, the notion of obsession can also have another, more positive and creative side to it. This was how Harald Szeemann understood it in the 1970s, when he proposed a Museum of Obsessions that would be a space in a permanent state of development, free from any rigid, established system. This is exactly the approach we have taken with this cycle of exhibitions in the Espai 13: the idea of obsession in relation to the individual gestures and mythologies that define personal universes and that with authenticity, conviction and enthusiasm – we are talking here about an obsession that is not sick but tenacious and thriving – are able to generate new ways of seeing things and to stimulate approaches to production and creation that help us achieve a better understanding of the world we live in, or at least show personal ways of dealing with it, opposing it or fleeing from it.
The artists taking part in the cycle approach this notion – which forms part of their personal and artistic attitudes – from very different angles: obsession understood as the need to possess an object of desire (Francesc Ruiz); as a meticulous copy of the past in order to update meaning and relevance (Sumi Maro); as a need to carry out impossible projects (Joost Conijn); as extremely painstaking detail (Thorsten Goldberg); and as an incessant repetition of the same questions or the same actions in order to extract something more meaningful from them (Peter Land). Precisely because of their singular nature, these five very personal universes are able to speak to each one of us, demonstrating the uniformity and standardisation that are increasingly taking over all aspects of the present times and of our existence.
Meticulous detail is one of the main features of the work of Sumi Maro (Gifu, Japan, 1954). In his gigantic enterprises he faithfully copies works that are milestones in the collective memory, making subtle additions that bring their points of reference and interpretations up to date.
The work of Joost Conijn ( Amsterdam, 1971) starts from a fascination with alternative ways of living and cultures different from Western culture. His journeys, often linked to a will to carry out projects that seem totally impossible, trigger unexpected situations, ingenious solutions and enriching exchanges.
The work of Thorsten Goldberg (Dinslaken, Germany, 1960) is characterised by minute detail, discipline and meticulous execution. Taking everyday points of reference, he produces comments that are light-hearted only in appearance, for underneath they are criticisms and precise observations of our times.
Recording acts and, above all, their repetition, is a constant concern in the work of Peter Land (Aarhus, Denmark, 1966) by which the artist explores the basic conditions of existence and attempts to find sense in acts that appear senseless.