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Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona 

Atopia, Arte y ciudad en el siglo XXI

Barcelona, Spain 

February 25 - May 24, 2010

Press Release:


The exhibition explores a kind of unease—the awkwardness that exists between the city and the individual. The tension between a city that becomes individual (taking on a life of its own, over and above nations, countries or states) and an individual it treats like an object. Between them, the two form a kind of atopia. We know that utopias did not exist, but they did offer paradises elsewhere, away from the danger of the world’s present.

Atopia is the feeling of unease experienced by the individual faced with a city that does exist, but which in no case represents the paradise dreamt-of or promised, for the simple reason that the monster that is now the city has taken on a life of its own.

The exhibition Atopia is not one of the recent projects to be based on the social phenomenon, nor is it one of the increasing number of projects to denounce issues such as urban speculation or gentrification in cities. It focuses instead on a more universal and also more palpable agony: that of the individual who survives and what might be termed his existential resistance to the urban apotheosis.

Without prior judgment or prejudice, and always by means of artistic discourses, Atopia explores the city that is relinquishing its former functions—the functions of modern life—and starting to be something else. A kind of Moby Dick that breaks away from past representations and belonging to situate itself in a subsequent dimension.

The city as a space of congregation and work has given way to the city as a place of atomization and leisure (or unemployment); the space which until very recently functioned as a fantasy of encounter and realization is being transformed before our eyes into a place of loss and failure; the concrete city—Paris, Rome, Berlin, Chicago—is losing its sharp outline and giving way to the abstract city. At the same time, Utopian cities—those of More and Erasmus, Bacon and Campanella—no longer serve as a basis for the urbanization of the global city, because the latter has set itself up beyond the horizon of the things we dream of, where it floats like a freestanding platform, tracing the drift of its own wreckage.

At the exact point between catastrophe and indolence. This is the nucleus of the story that David LaChapelle proposes. This indifference takes place in chaos, where everything (the murder, the disease, the hecatomb) is accepted without fuss. Sometimes, the indifferent mass accepts a messiah. But he does not do it to redeem himself, but because his advent, and allows to place himself outside any solution.  Everyone expects something, and at the same time everyone usually looks to the other side when things happen. Everyone knows what's going on, but no one feels the slightest need to be held accountable. The order and the chaos, the redemption and the crime, the illness and its treatment, will always come from an external being. Or no, it's worth it. The LaChapelle's sets are theatrical, and contain the kind of everyday frivolity that accepts everything: consumption and mysticism, youth bands and crest, opulence and despair. The characters in this theater are atomic, but not because they maintain a subversive tension with the urban order: they are the urban order, so they refuse to a dissension that would, in the first place, be the same.  Everything is provided, here, an accidental component, since the accident is our first alibi, the first indication that we are not guilty.

For more information please visit the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona website

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