Too tempting: strobe lights, bodies moving like never before, sexual liberation, designer drugs, erotic tension at night, liminal spaces... It was inevitable that artists would be interested in the club culture that proliferated in the sixties and that Since then, it has become one of the most distinctive forms of leisure of our time.
The halls of contemporary art museums have enthusiastically received a large number of works, monographs,
and chronological tours of this polyhedral cultural phenomenon, encouraged by its transversal and multimedia nature.
The clubs symbolize a higher form of leisure for people of all walks of life and classes, from the real-estate boomers of the 1990s to the losers of neoliberalism.
And queer, racialized and migrant people, condemned to marginalization during the day, have also been able to meet at night, to the rhythm of electronic music.
The end of the party in 2020 has instilled a certain nostalgia for those endless nights, where sweaty bodies share the same polluted air and full of what we now call "aerosols", although, for some time, museums have already been explaining recent history. through his
For the institutions of Valencia, for example, it is inconceivable to think of the nineties without taking into account the Ruta del Bakalao.
Already in 2013, the Valencian Museum of Illustration and Modernity dedicated an exhibition to Chimo Bayo in which there was room for a more sociological analysis of interpersonal relationships in clubs and in their parking areas, a phenomenon known as
And last year, the IVAM exhibited a wide sample of the innovative and characteristic graphic design of the Route.
To this documentary aspect of club culture it is possible to add a large number of recent exhibitions: the headquarters of the Victoria & Albert Museum in Dundee (Scotland) organized in 2021 an extensive retrospective on electronic parties from the sixties to today, and the Kunsthal of Rotterdam recently devoted a monograph to the rise of
, as a club subculture strongly linked to trans and racialized people, from New York to Western Europe.
Visitors listen to the sound installation "Eleven songs - Halle am Berghain" at the Berghain club in Berlin (Germany).STEFANIE LOOS (AFP)
The most famous nightclubs, which had to interrupt their macro parties during the pandemic, also took the opportunity to review their past and think about their role as cultural agents.
Berghain, a temple of Berlin
, became an art gallery until the restrictions were lifted, and Fuse, in Brussels, took the opportunity to pull from its archives posters and promotional items they had accumulated since the 1990s.
In a very different way, there are artists who have been incorporating club culture into their practices since the early 2000s, when this form of leisure began to show a certain decline.
are giving way to huge clubs owned by billionaires, drug abuse is perceived as a social problem, and the economic situation varies considerably.
Ana Laura Aláez danced, back in the year 2000, with the visitors of the Reina Sofía in
Dance & Disco
, an installation -
essential to reflect on club culture in the museum.
Just before the pandemic, CA2M (Móstoles) dedicated a retrospective to him that questioned what happened to those parties, a question that Luis Costa also asks himself in the recent essay
The end of the party caused by the pandemic caused a certain nostalgia for those long nights where sweaty bodies shared the same polluted air
The artist, architect and researcher Pol Esteve has been thinking about the party for years.
With his project
, he reflects on disco culture as a phenomenon typical of the tourist and economic conditions of Franco's developmentalism and explains its evolution until today.
In his installations, Esteve recreates the sensitive characteristics of clubs, with a special interest in those liminal spaces typical of queer discos.
The smells, the lighting or its absence, the spaces for
and the tensions and violence in a small space seem fundamental to him to understand socialization and the politics that surround the bodies.
The aesthetic power of this culture and its relevance for various generations have led several museums to include experimentation sessions with electronic music and authentic parties in their activities, where the aura of disobedience and transgression of
can sometimes cover up the regulated space of the museum.
, at the CAAC in Seville, or
Art After Dark
, at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, have become ways of showing a certain compromise in the uses of space.
The Reina Sofía also inaugurated
after the pandemic, a choreographic program for young people between 18 and 21 years old.
The exhibition on the graphics of the Ruta del Bakalao, at the IVAM (Valencia), in March 2022. Mònica Torres
The club also serves as a granary for materials and aesthetic resources that are reused in other contexts, with very different objectives.
Variations in the experience of the passage of time due to music, drugs and closed space, for example, have been investigated by the Berlin duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz as a way of decontextualizing time and its regulations.
In 2022 we could see at CA2M two large screens on a reflective floor and surrounded by microphones and golden chains, a stylized prop characteristic of queer clubs.
On one of the screens, a group of dancers moved extremely slowly, while on the other a postmodern choreography inspired by the movements of the Kurdish guerrillas was replicated.
The duo has once again presented their work in Madrid with
El cristal es mi piel
, an installation in the Palacio de Cristal in the Retiro park that also takes those same clubs as a point of reference.
Inside the space there are six silver platforms, twisted or directly overturned, which reflect the ceiling, making it participate in some way in the spectacle of its visualization, to confuse architecture with an art object.
From time to time, some smoke machines —another characteristic feature of the club— obscure all this vision, as a reference to the building's colonial past, whose transparency serves to hide its historical turbidity.
Although the reference to that uncomfortable legacy is the general tone of many of the interventions that are made in it by the Reina Sofía Museum,
the mere resource of smoke is very effective and demonstrates the enormous creativity provided by the technical resources of the festivities.
However, the reflective platforms may fail to complicate the structure of the palace and its history: the many tourists who visit the Retreat have seen in them a wonderful mirror to take selfies with a beautiful background.
'The glass is my skin'.
Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz.
Until April 9.
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