Maialen A.C.’s ‘unfinished chapters’ contain strangely familiar stories set in an ambiguous, poignant, tense, sad and unnerving atmosphere. Everyday scenes in vague half-traumatic, half-absurd situations that draw spectators in with their disconcerting ambiguity.
As in the work of many other artists of her generation, her pieces give off the feeling of utter disillusionment with the world around her: everything seems unbelieving, superficial and cynical, far removed from utopias and faith in the human condition. Empty spaces, images and texts complement each other in work that draws constantly from artistic references to groups such as Xiu Xiu and Kimya Dawson, images from the mass media, and excerpts of texts by Michael Chabon and David Foster Wallace, amongst others.
1. What made you choose art as a profession?
I don’t think it was something I sat down and thought about, a decision I took at a certain time. I think seeing myself as a cultural agent working with and producing art comes from something understood from outside. The thing that legitimises this profession has more to do with the context you relate to, contacts, a certain way of communicating, etc.
2. How would you define your work?
I usually describe my work as a series of unfinished chapters containing strangely familiar stories set in an ambiguous, poignant, tense, sad and unnerving atmosphere. Everyday scenes in vague half-traumatic, half-absurd situations that draw spectators in with their disconcerting ambiguity. It’s a place for silences, images that arrive at the wrong time, the undefined. A place where all information works as small signs to lead the public on to uncover more complex stories hidden further behind.
3. What subjects are you interested in?
When it comes to describing art work, I find trying to reduce it to a series of ‘subjects’ obscures the real complexity of contemporary creation. However, if I had to describe my subject matter, I’d say the idea of disillusionment is always present in my work.
4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
My work draws constantly on references to the wide range of products and information I consume: from song lyrics by Xiu Xiu and Kimya Dawsom to excerpts from stories by Michael Chabon, Elfriede Jelinek and David Foster Wallace. A theoretical text digested and transformed into something else, together with something from a news item. All this is accompanied by borrowed images and given a format by the ‘discipline’ that best suits what I’m trying to say at the time.
5. What relationship does your work have with reality?
What are your raw materials? It’s pure reality and utter fiction.
6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
I remember a talk by Dora García entitled The Artist’s Dedications, given as part of a conference on the status of the artist, in which she listed a whole series of tasks carried out by different artists to give shape to their work, and which were generally all professions that at first sight had nothing to do with art. So, whilst artists such as Sâadane Afif and Begoña worked as singers, Sophie Calle worked as a private investigator; Joan Fontcuberta, as a conjurer; Teresa Margolles, as a forensic scientist; Rirkrit Tiravanija, as a cook; and Dora García herself, as a story-writer. This long list of professionals just goes to show that the point of art is: everything.
7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I hope spectators will receive my work as they see fit and squeeze it in between the poster they’ve just seen at the bus stop and the nine o’clock news. On many occasions my projects have eventually seen the light of day as post cards or posters to be found in different spots in the city – something the public can make their own and transform as they see fit (as decoration, as a bookmark, to hide a mark on the wall, to jot down a couple of telephone numbers, or whatever use comes to mind). But they’re not always cards or small publications distributed at certain points and reproduced repeatedly; sometimes they work as messages in a context in which most of the public are specialists, such as a note or guide in the middle of a white wall, and spectators can include this as part of the information they devour throughout the day. Everyone will read my pieces differently in accordance with their education and references, but I think my work involves the art public as much as the general public.
8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
On the most academic side of my Fine Art degree, the education I received was geared towards producing art. And on the different programmes I’ve attended on curating, the content was more to do with the role of promoter or curator. Both sides contained the underlying idea of worlds that were too far apart. I also had the feeling that the cultural products being talked about were exclusively related to the plastic arts, seen in isolation from other cultural industries (music, literature, film, etc.). As a result, what I value most from both inside and outside the academic sphere are the people who have linked their discourses and ideas, jumping from one position to another, creating conflicts between boundaries and contaminating everything with information and knowledge from very different fields.
9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
Uncertain. And I hope that part of this uncertainty remains in the future.
10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work? Do you think this has a bearing on your work?
It’s well known that artists’ fees are often not respected and there’s this idea that artists should feel remunerated simply by having been chosen for an exhibition, for forming part of a certain list of creators or a certain publication, and that they should be profoundly grateful for simply appearing. However, I also think that this situation should lead artists to rethink their role, the way they promote their work, to look afresh at the established forms of distribution and conventional circuits. And thinking seriously about all this should be perfectly in keeping with the work of anyone involved in producing contemporary cultural reality.
11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators? What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships?
I want them to work hard to facilitate communication and reflection.
12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
I don't think I’ve got enough knowledge or experience to be able to give a well-founded opinion on the arts scene in Madrid. As a participant who is perhaps still on the threshold of this scene, what I can say is that I still get the feeling of accessibility, proximity, the chance to get close to the structures and components of this scene. However, this simply means that there are no obstacles to these first steps here; I don’t want this to be seen as a judgement on subsequent possibilities here or the real long-term options on offer.
San Sebastián, 1986.
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid.
Formación Académica / Education
Licenciatura en Bellas Artes, Escuela de Arte y Arquitectura, ESAYA, Universidad Europea de Madrid.
Introduction to Curating, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.
Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección) / Group Exhibitions (Selection)
Blog 08’ En caja, Centro de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid.
Medio, Ateneo de Madrid.
La Imagen duele, Escuela de Arte y Arquitectura de la Universidad Europea de Madrid.
Proyectos / Projects
Comisariado de la exposición Chicharras y Guijarros de Ignacio Jiménez Bas, Espacio Anexo, San Sebastián.
Comisariado de la exposición Quiero ser artista de José Ganga, Espacio Anexo, San Sebastián.
Bibliografía / Bibliography
Cortés, David, "Blog En Caja", Madrid, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 2008.
Mayayo, Patricia, "La imagen duele", Madrid, Escuela de Arte y Arquitectura, ESAYA, Universidad Europea de Madrid, 2008.
Contacto / Contact