Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson

Preview 31 March 2009, 6:30 pm
31 March 2008 – 2 May 2009
Curated by Gabi Scardi

The Galleria Riccardo Crespi presents an exhibition by Libia Castro  and Ólafur Ólafsson: she from Spain, he from Iceland, they are a couple who have been working together since 1997. While exploring a wide range of media, they have lately begun using video as the main instrument of their artistic research.

Sensitive to the context, to the transformations, tensions and contradictions that run through a present in perpetual redefinition, Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson see art as a way of interpreting the world around them and feel the need to do everything they can to combat the automatism of situations that are accepted a priori.

Among the phenomena of a global nature that have struck them most are those linked to the transcultural tendency in today’s world and to its consequent mobility, something that was unthinkable just a short time ago.

One of their best known works is the music video Caregivers, which tackles one aspect of this new mobility.

Caregivers are increasingly common figures in society, but this does not make them more represented or less oppressed. Necessary in countries where an individual who is not self-sufficient becomes a burden in relation to lifestyles based on speed, efficiency and the formatting of spaces and family groups, these women, in order to help their families, face a sort of voluntary exile that takes them to wealthier nations, where they look after other people’s infirmities. Living on the margins, they are solitary and elusive figures whose roles are defined but whose individual identities are not being recognized by the host country. Their way of life is rooted in silence and service, and their existence appears formless to us because they adapt themselves to the needs of the people they care for. We tend to observe them from a distance, as if they were different from us, as if they did not concern us.

In their quest for a language in which to express all this, Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson have developed a double take on reality: that of a precise and analytical journalistic reportage, signed by Davide Beretta, and that of a documentary recording, shot in an urban setting, of moments in the daily life and work of carers and the people they are entrusted with. To these two dimensions the artists have added another, generated by music.

Thus, while the text provides figures and facts and the images present fragments of the story of lives filled with humanity, it is the music, which the two artists have had composed for the purpose by Karólína Eiríksdóttir, that underscores the distance between these two different forms of viewing reality, emphasizing the complex stratification of sensations, expressions and experiences and imparting a sense of surreal disorientation to the situation.

In addition to Caregivers, the exhibition includes other works that have sprung from the attentive and critical gaze of these two artists, always interested in identifying the many questions that the present raises and always careful to avoid simplistic answers.