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Collateral Event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia organized by the Institut Ramon Llull

The 25% project, a new work from visual artist Francesc Torres and filmmaker Mercedes Álvarez curated by Jordi Balló, will represent Catalonia at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale of Art, to be held from 1 June to 24 November.

This project’s curatorial proposal departs from a reflection on the role of art in the situation of systemic crisis in which we are immersed. Originating from an original idea by Francesc Torres and developed by Jordi Balló, the 25% project has a diverse authorship.

Eight people out of work covering the widest possible social spectrum (a Senegalese man engaged in recycling, a young, overqualified architect, a scientific researcher, a metallurgy worker over 50 years of age, and so on) have been photographed by Francesc Torres as he lived alongside them for one to two weeks.

They were asked to provide an object from home (a painting, a figure, a reproduction, etc.) that held emotional significance for them. Finally, they each visited the MACBA individually, choosing a work from the museum’s permanent collection and explaining why they had selected it. This foray into the museum was filmed by filmmaker Mercedes Álvarez and will go on to form part of the installation together with Francesc Torres’ photographs and the two objects selected by each subject, one from among his or her possessions and one from the MACBA’s collection.

This project was chosen by an independent panel chaired by the MACBA’s director Bartomeu Marí and made up by Glòria Picazo, director of the Centre d’Art La Panera; Gerard Vilar, doctor of philosophy and professor of aesthetics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and director of the UAB’s master’s in Thinking Contemporary Art; Xavier Antich, president of the Board of Trustees of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, professor of aesthetics at the Universitat de Girona (UdG) and director of the UdG’s master’s in Communication and Art Criticism; Marta Gili, director of the Jeu de Paume; Piedad Solans, doctor of art history and art criticism, and Àlex Susanna, deputy director of the Institut Ramon Llull.

The title
25% refers to Catalonia’s unemployment rate, which is well known internationally. The mass unemployment affecting a fourth of the country’s active population forces us to take initiatives in reaction to prevent this situation from becoming a tolerated state of life that turns invisible since it affects a plurality. Making it visible, showing its severity and the dignity of those in this situation and their ethical and aesthetic paradox are also central aims of this proposal.

The participants
The selection of the eight participants was undertaken in collaboration with different collectives fighting in different areas to address the systemic crisis in Catalonia in relation to unemployment and the lack of professional and job prospects. The participants are Gessamí Sánchez Ollé, 33, a biochemist and member of the Federación de Jóvenes Investigadores/Precarios; Noèlia Asensi, 32, an architect with projects on ephemeral art; Aura Jobita Gonzáles, 45, Ecuadorian, a domestic worker and factory worker; Pedro González, 48, metalworker; Cyntia Terrade, 22, with no work experience; Mamadou Kheraba Drame, 43, Senegalese, resident in Barcelona for 15 years and working in recycling; Alejandro Roldán, 60, a member of the Plataforma d’Afectats per la Hipoteca of L’Hospitalet (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages of L’Hospitalet); and Joan Andreu Parra, 42, formerly a cashier in different bank branches and now in search of ethical work.

The works from the MACBA’s permanent collection selected by these eight individuals to accompany them in the exhibition at the Venice Biennale are by artists Hans Haacke (Condensation Cube); Federico Guzmán (Emboscadura); Carlos Pazos (Aquella noche volví a llorar con Bambi); Jaume Xifra (Morceau d’art); Alan Sekula (Shipwreck and Workers); Esther Ferrer (ZAJ Chair); Jorge Oteiza (Retrato de un gudari llamado Odiseo) and Perejaume (Compostatge de nou pintures, compostatge de sis pintures, compostatge d’una pintura amb marc i vidre).