“To speak of “CURRENTS” is to speak of public space and at the same time to look at the landscape. Working between architecture and sculpture, between landscape and art, offers a frontier space that needs both to express THEMSELVES. If we are able to connect with this dialogue then we can see each fragment of the journey as a unique space” Juan Correa
The park of Tamaraceite, designed by the architect Hector Martínez and the sculptor Juan E. Correa has managed to generate an imposing poetic space in which the air, sky and earth circulate, integrating perfectly to produce a cohesive space. The park, located between the shopping center of Los Alisios ( Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) and a highway seemed to be destined to be a sort of “no man’s land” between two non-places and yet the artist has managed to create a work that is, at the same time, a park and a sculpture. This space shows that it is possible to make artistic interventions in a public place that fulfills the social function of offering spaces to the public or, better, spaces for citizens to enjoy the aesthetic experience with an emancipatory potential.
Description of project by Fernando Castro Flórez
Since the late sixties, we have witnessed the confluence of the problematic nature of painting with the emergence of the expanded sculptural field, the conceptual retreat (or contextualist rhetoric), or the emergence of the cybernetic counterculture. Rosalind E. Krauss has pointed out that sculpture has become a kind of “ontological absence”, something that is neither architecture nor landscape, however it is possible to speak of an expanded logical field in which notions such as “emplacements marked” or “axiomatic structures”, constructions dialectically related to the place or traditional type sculptures: “sculpture is no longer a privileged middle term between two things that it does not consist of, but rather sculpture is nothing more than a term on the periphery of a field in which there are other possibilities structured in a different way”1. We can consider minimalism, more than as a rupture, as the fulfillment of the development of modern sculpture, which would coincide with the development of two currents of thought, phenomenology and structural linguistics, in which it is understood that the meaning depends on the the way in which any form of being contains the latent experience of its opposite, the simultaneity that always
entails an implicit experience of sequence2. Objectivity would replace a transcendentality of the work of art, but at the same time, it would reduce the meaning to a subjective drift. It is clear that at the contemporary crossroads it is not enough, as Serra claims, to affirm that this is what there is since the critical content of this putting things in their place can slide without fanfare towards cynicism. Hybridization entails something more than an intertwining of languages, it is above all a mixture of intentions and meanings, an (anti) communicative rather than expressive will. Juan E. Correa has spent years displaying a sculptural work that dialogues with the heritage of minimalism. Trained in the architectural discipline and with a great talent for drawing, he decided to concentrate his imagination on sculptural composition, playing, with great rigor, with planes and angulations, taking up (in an extraordinarily personal way) so many Brancusian aspects when topological issues are present. in Max Bill’s canonical Moebius band, predilections for industrial materiality with formal analogies with works by Richard Serra or Andreu Alfaro. The attitude of this Canarian artist is not, in any sense, epigenetic nor does it manifest “anguish of influences”, on the contrary, far from any citations what he is interested in is “going to the appointment”, that is, generating sites in a radical dialogue with architecture, understanding space in all its variables and dynamics.
The contemporary experience is, to use terms characterized by Marc Augé, that of the non-place from which different individual attitudes are established: flight, fear, the intensity of the experience, or rebellion. History transformed into a spectacle throws everything “urgent” into oblivion. It is as if space is trapped by time as if there is no other story than the news of the day or the day before as if each story exhausts its motives, its words, and its images in the inexhaustible stock of an endless story in the present. The passenger of non-places makes the simultaneous experience of the perpetual present and the encounter of himself3. In non-places, the artificial and the banality of illusion dominates. That publicity that is everywhere has reached the end of its strategies; to a certain extent, non-places serve, now in a singular detournement, for dreams to be projected and there, where we only travel at full speed or, better, where we do not want to be, a new form of flanerie could develop. Contemporary places of passage “remind us” (in a paradoxical epidemic of collective forgetfulness) of our nomadic condition, but they also acquire a spectral tone; no one can inhabit these constructions, they are a limit that must be forgotten, the place that holds us back. Juan E. Correa has always tried to generate places in his interventions in public spaces, departing from the “logic of the pedestal”, from the rotondistic imposture or the mere placing something on the street without worrying about contextual relationships. If in the Powder magazine he created a space in which the sculpture was integrated, even taking into account the development of the railing, in the project he has carried out in Tamaraceite (a neighborhood of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) he shows both a total artistic maturity as well as a will to radically carry out a project that can properly be called public sculpture.
It should be remembered that one of the obsessive concerns of Juan E. Correa’s aesthetics is delimitation and thus he embarked, for example, on an investigation into the multitude of forms that space enclosed by lines adopts. In the Rubrics exhibition that he carried out in 2013 in the Manuel Ojeda gallery, he presented twenty sculptures made with metallic spheres that draw cylinders in a vacuum. This truly poetic will to “enclose the air” is modulated on a monumental scale in the Circulación del aire project. Already in 2009, Juan E. Correa spoke that his works allowed “to feel or see the air”4 and in the park of Tamaraceite he has managed to generate an imposing poetics of space (to use the notion developed by Gastón Bachelard) in which air, wind, heaven and earth, circulation and pause, are perfectly integrated to produce a place. The park located between the Los Alisios shopping center and a road seemed to be destined to be a kind of “no man’s land” between two non-places and, nevertheless, Correa has managed to create a work that is, at the same time, a park and a sculpture, space, in short, extraordinary that shows that it is possible to carry out artistic interventions in public space that fulfill the social function of, worth the redundancy, offering spaces to the public or, better, places to citizens in which the aesthetic experience has, as Schiller claimed, an emancipatory potential.
Once again, the question arises about the hic et nunc of the work of art, what kind of presence can it have in the era of the digitization of the gaze5. There is no doubt that the sculptural, in a broad sense, that is, subjected to all kinds of miscegenation, is one of the possible ways out of the labyrinth of the “historical disease”, avoiding both cynicism and a self-irony that would lead us to consider ourselves posthumous. Banality is today sacralized, in that time of suspension that is consummated in what we would call, parodying Barthes, the xerox degree of culture. Baudrillard spoke of a kind of trans-aesthetics of banality, a realm of insignificance or nullity that can lead to the strictest indifference. Art is thrown into a pseudo-ritual of suicide, a sometimes shameful simulation in which the banal increases its scale6. After the heroic sublime and the orthodoxy of trauma7, the ecstasy of the gravediggers would appear or, in other words, a simulation of the third degree8. When the same dissatisfaction has become a commodity and the reality show strengthens the will to pathos, the subjects rapidly consume gadgets and the artists drift towards DIY; Some even come to assume the delirium of the world deliriously9. Contemporary art reinvents nullity, insignificance, nonsense, it pretends nullity when perhaps it is already null: “Now nullity is a quality that cannot be claimed by anyone. The insignificance – the true one, the victorious challenge to meaning, the stripping of meaning, the art of the disappearance of meaning – is an exceptional quality of a few rare works that never aspire to it”10. Juan E. Correa proposes, throughout his artistic career, a line of resistance against the trivializing tendencies of culture, without falling into an anachronistic elitism; his intention has been at all times to take “space as a project tool” and seek in his interventions that places are not merely “sublimated” but rather that they allow intensification of life experiences. In a certain sense, the red color that he has used on so many occasions refers to the arteries, the heartbeat, as well as the circles and spirals have that symbolic- archetypal condition of referring to cyclical temporalities or the search for the center and even to the longed-for harmony that So weird, it sounds in a crazy time.
John Berger has observed that most of the billions of mobile calls that occur every hour in cities and towns around the world begin with a question about the caller’s whereabouts. Human beings immediately need to know where they are. “It is as if doubt haunts them and makes them think that they are nowhere. They are surrounded – Berger points out in “Ten Notes on ‘The Place” – by so many abstractions that they have to invent and share their provisional reference points. More than thirty years ago, Guy Debord wrote some prophetic words: “… the accumulation of mass-produced goods for the abstract space of the market; just as it has smashed all regional and legal barriers and all business restrictions of the Middle Ages that supported the quality of artisanal production, it has also destroyed the autonomy and peculiarity of places”. The keyword for world chaos is offshoring, or relocation, which not only refers to the practice of moving production to a place where labor is cheapest and laws are minimal but also contains the maddened fantasy of the new. power over what is outside, the dream of undermining the category and the trust of all established places so that the whole world becomes a continuous market. The consumer is fundamentally someone who feels or is forced to feel lost if they are not consuming. Trademarks and logos are the names of Nowhere11. Bulent Diken points out that in contemporary cities the site of non-law, what he properly calls a state of exception, within the law tends to transform urban space into a dislocated biopolitical space in which the political categories of modernity (such as left / right, private/public, absolutism/democracy) are entering a post-political zone of indistinction and thus dissolving. The very apology for hybridization and nomadism does not usually note that power itself has become “rhizomatic”12. Perhaps contemporary art can be something more than hyperbolic ornament or pamphlet slogan, generating critical questions, offering other points of view. It would be useless if it were something “wonderful” or enigmatic, since everything that has these characteristics quickly enters oblivion, like that neo-bunkered prehistory13. What we need are, as Juan E. Correa has done exemplarily in his prodigious project Circula del aire, intense metaphorical operations14, we have to tell stories that generate sites, but much more important is to build habitable spaces, offer sites where it becomes patent the hospitality.
Ultimately, the problem with contemporary machinations is not amnesia, since there is almost nothing that is properly worthy of memory, but disconnection. The society of the spectacle has pushed art and even criticism to the field of bricolage, being the material with which to produce the “work” an amalgam of souvenirs that signal a pathetic end. “For the first time, the arts of all civilizations and all ages can be known and accepted together. It is a “collection of souvenirs” from the history of art that, when made possible, also implies the end of the art world. We have a tremendous hangover15 and we have also become aware that this art that tried to expose life16 has ended up degenerating into a sinister “taxidermy”. Beyond the will to meaning arises a pleasure in the enunciation, of minimalist roots, that what you see is what you see, to use Frank Stella’s terms. Obsessive nominalism has indeed been subjected to a misrepresentation tactic that tries to show how paradoxical that would seem. If, as I have pointed out, Juan E. Correa assumes minimalist formal questions, he does not necessarily share that compulsion to repeat that leads to an almost glacial normativity. The procedural rigor of this artist never leaves aside the qualities of the place in which he intervenes, nor does he lose sight of the social function and the ways of life that will develop in that place.
We have, without any doubt, to react critically within a “culture of the present”, as defined by Stephen Bertman, trying, even if it seems impossible, to put a stop to this acceleration. As Virilio warned, a characteristic, special among others, that contrasts contemporary civilization to those that have preceded it is the speed that leads to a second “original” event: the accident, that “progressive generalization of catastrophic events that do not only affect the current reality but are also a cause of anxiety and anguish for future generations”17. Between the space of consumption (the shopping center) and the highway (the rapid transit space), Juan E. Correa has created Circulación del aire, an impressive public work that does not run out and that invites us to walk, to play, and, most importantly, to understand that aesthetic sensations (strict redundancy) are essential in our daily lives.
The work of Juan E. Correa shines with its light. It is not, although to some it may seem like, a huge “lamp”, but rather a space articulated in such a way that it constantly changes its appearance: we have to go through it, follow different paths to understand how it offers us different and fascinating points of view. The sculptural element itself establishes an air circulation that dialogues and integrates with the architectural and landscaping elements. But, also, when night falls, the lighting (integrated into the sculpture itself) generates another prodigious dynamic. It will be the viewer or, better, the citizen who ends up finding different sites in that wonderful place that this work of public art provides. Although the symbolic key is (fortunately) open in this intervention, we could suggest that all those inclined or angular elements that (apparently) support and make up the piece may refer to the “unstable” equilibrium situation in which we live, but also to the need to support each other to make existence bearable. The fall is not allegorized but, on the contrary, a space of the common is built in which it is necessary to have open perspectives, different points of view that, besides, always respect the difference.
Juan E. Correa, with the collaboration of the architect Héctor Martínez, has taken into consideration all aspects of the place, designing both a huge sculpture and the landscaping, architectural elements, walks, etc. You have to understand that Circulación del aire is not so much a site-specific project as, I am worth the pun, a project that generates a site. In that park in the Tamaraceite neighborhood, a sculpture has not been “placed”, but rather an intervention thought from a “sculptural” point of view, has articulated the entire territory. It is, in my opinion, one of the most lucid manifestations of public art that has been carried out in the international context. Without any doubt, this project will be understood as an exemplary reference of democratic public art, a model of fruitful dialogue between the sculptural and the architectural, a renovating paradigm in the planning of spaces of aesthetic quality (habitable and hospitable) that allow us to understand how to live together. Circulación del aire offers a unique place where the metal elements of the sculpture rise and fall, curve and almost knot, proposing visual routes that are punctuated by angular structures, perhaps alluding to eccentric trajectories or suggesting lines of flight; at the same time in this public work what we have is a meeting space, a commonplace where everything has been thought (from gardening to the structure of the routes) to welcome others. Therefore, here the “circulation” is, paradoxically, a suggestion that sometimes it is worth stopping and enjoying logics different from those of consumption or speed, while the allusion to air, a constant in Juan E’s work Correa, is nothing more than an invocation to a contemplation of the invisible that, nevertheless, allows us to continue alive. In an age of pandemic phobias, Circulation del aire has something of a “utopian space”, a place of hope, a breathable place.
1. Rosalind E. Krauss: “The sculpture in the expanded field” in Postmodernity, Ed. Kairós, Barcelona, 1985, p. 68.
2. Cf. Hal Foster: “The essentials of minimalism” in Minimal Art, Ed. Koldo Mitxelena, San Sebastián, 1996, pp. 99-121.
3. Cf. Marc Augé: The “not places”. Anonymity spaces. An anthropology of over modernity, Ed. Gedisa, Barcelona, 1993.
4. “Correa is one of the Canarian artists with the greatest international projection at the moment, he explains that the objective of this exhibition will be to“ feel or see the air ”through small and medium-sized pieces, some of which will be air loops. and other open sculptures with rods that “will show the geometric lines within the organic forms.” They are all red and the lighting is presented as a component of the work itself ”(Alberto García Saleh:“ Juan Correa and the geometry of the air ”in La Provincia. Diario de Las Palmas, August 31, 2009).
5. Virilio has underlined the importance of the dimension of testimony in the culture that experiences the drama of a general crisis: “It is a world that is ending. Be careful, it is not the end of the world, I am horrified by the apocalyptic delusion in which some are indulging today. But I am convinced that it is the end of a world ”(Catherine David’s interview with Paul Virilio in Colisión, Ed. Arteleku, San Sebastián, 1995, p. 53).
6. “There is an illuminating moment for art, that of its loss (modern art, of course). There is an illuminating moment of simulation, that of sacrifice, that moment in which art plunges into banality (Heidegger says that this immersion in banality is the second fall of man, his modern destiny). But there is a disillusioned moment, worth the expression, disenchanted, in which you learn to live from that banality, to recycle yourself in your waste, and that is a bit like a failed suicide “(Jean Baudrillard:” The simulation in art ”in The aesthetic illusion and disillusion, Ed. Monte Ávila, Caracas, 1998, p. 51).
7. Cf. Hal Foster: The Return of the Real, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996, pp. 127-168 and Rosalind Krauss: “Le destin de l ́informe”
in Rosalind Krauss and Yves- Alain Bois: L ́informe (mode d’emploi), Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1996, pp. 223-242.
8. “I have said that the sublime of modern art consists in the magic of its disappearance. But the danger that it contains lies in the repetition of that disappearance. All forms of heroic disappearance, of heroic denial of form, color, substances, even of art itself, have been exhausted, the utopia of the disappearance of art has become a reality. Thus we find ourselves before a simulation of the second generation or of a third-class ”(Jean Baudrillard:“ Towards the vanishing point of art ”in Kunstmachen ?, eds. Florian Rötzer and Sara Roggenhofer, Munich, 1991, p. 207).
9. Cf. Jean Baudrillard: “Shadowing the world” in The impossible exchange, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 2000, p. 153.
10. Jean Baudrillard: “The plot of art” in Total Screen, Ed. Anagrama, Barcelona, 2000, pp. 211-212.
11. John Berger. “Ten Notes on” The Place “” in Babelia. EL PAÍS, July 16, 2005, p. 16.
12. “Until now the artistic critique of capitalism has emphasized ideas such as hybridity, nomadism, subversion, and transgression against power. French post- structuralist philosophy, for example, openly and vigorously opposes capitalism and power with an aesthetic critique: nomadism against the sedentary, situationism against the society of the spectacle, etc. However, aesthetic criticism [today] seems to be clinging to power that, in itself, in the ‘space of flows, has become nomadic “(Bulent Diken:” From the City to the Camp, Bare Life and Urban Post politics ”in Art and City, Second Symposium on Contemporary Art Theory (SITAC), México, DF, 2003, p. 172).
13. “Ironically, we could say that we are witnessing a liberation of fossils, as well as a liberation of everything, for the rest. Bercy, Silurian, Cassis, the pirogues, the skeletons, the frescoes, everywhere the vestiges are crowded to be discovered. They too want to express themselves. They have waited too long. It does not happen as in the case of America, which did not want to be discovered by anything in the world, but the result is the same: everything that is discovered is annihilated. Fossils only come out of their immemorial, therefore, from the secret memory of men, to be immediately buried in their artificial memory. The one who is exhumed, kidnapped. All originals are kept under lock and key (Lascaux caves, Tautavel skull, Cassis underwater cave). More and more things are exhumed only to be buried again immediately afterward, rescued from death to be cryogenized in perpetuity. Military secret: the entrance to the underwater cave has been closed by the national navy by the Ministry of Culture. Funeral attempt to hijack a collective memory that is going to waste everywhere. There are already thousands of works of art sleeping in the bottom of safes, which serves as a guarantee fund for the paint market. A brilliant demonstration that the abstraction of value is based on the theft of enjoyment. Even abstract forms,
ideas, concepts, are also frozen in the sanctuaries of Memory and Artificial Intelligence. As in the case of the Lascaux cave, the only thing that is put back into circulation is copies, clichés, doubles. Xerox grade of culture. Biosphere II also constitutes in its way an attempt to ideally kidnap the species and its environment behind the glass curtain of the forbidden gaze, of the forbidden touch, protected from any living lust, and prey to a definitive fetishism ”(Jean Baudrillard: “The dance of the fossils” in The illusion of the end. The strike of events, Ed. Anagrama, Barcelona, 1993, pp. 114-115).
14. “Metaphorical operations can be read as allusions to what is not trapped by univocal concepts, to what we live, and is in tension with what we could live, between the structured and the destructuring” (Nestor García Canclini: La globalización imagined, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 1999, p. 58).
15. “I also do not deny that our state is largely hangover: that we live in the wake not only of modern painting and sculpture but of postmodern deconstructions of these forms as well, in the wake of not only the avant-garde of the prewar but of the postwar neo-avant-gardes as well ”(Hal Foster:“ This funeral is for the wrong corpse ”in Design and crime, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2004, p. 125).
16. “Indeed, one may wonder if the“ living sculptures ”by Manzoni (1961) or by Kounellis, the mentally handicapped man exhibited at the 1972 Venice Biennale by Gino de Dominicis as an element of the work Tenth Possibility of Immortality (The Universe is immobile), or even the unemployed family exposed by Oscar Bony in the middle of the Argentine military dictatorship (1962), belong entirely to reality, or if they are implicative elements of a naturalistic commentary that tends to fake a contact with the real. Reality itself is assimilated to that double effect of disappointment and promise of reality, submerging itself in the naturalistic logic of the ready-made ”(Juan Luis Moraza:“ Indifférance ”in En tempo real. A arte mentres ten lugar, Ed. Fundación Luis Seoane, Coruña, 2001, p. 161).
17. Paul Virilio: The original accident, Ed. Amorrortu, Buenos Aires, 2009, p. 13.
Author: Juan E. Correa
Material: 316L stainless steel blasted and painted in red
Measures: 20 x 132 x 39,5 m
Volume: 104.280 mq
Weight: 36.000 Kg
Developer: Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Architect: Héctor Martínez Santana
Location: Tamaraceite – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Calculation of Structure: Huca Arquitectura
Construction company: Acciona Construcciones
Metal Workshop: Premonser
Videos Credits: Don Worry
Photos Credits: Don Worry / Juan e Correa
Please Send us your articles (PDF or URL) when you publish the project.