congress / events

10x10:Antoni Abad, Megafone.net

Montse Badía

exhibition / installation

2011-09-08 - 2011-09-11 Four Domes Pavilion

informacje o biletach

photo: www.megafone.net / A group of young Sahrawis from the refugee camps near Tinduf, Algeria, 2009

In the context of the 10x10 project, Montse Badia, a curator based in Barcelona, has invited the Spanish artist Antoni Abad to present a documentary installation about his work with different communities that has been led since 2004.

Montse Badia on the project “Megafone.net “ by Antoni Abad:

How can art have a real projection in society? Can art be an instrument of social change? Can artists address their work towards specific groups or communities in order to analyse or share their conflicts without being considered amateur ethnographers, sociologists or anthropologists? What is the difference between an art project that works with a particular community and a 100% politically correct advertising campaign for, let’s say, the social foundation of a savings bank?

These are some of the issues raised by a whole line of works of contemporary art that have been immersed in the social sphere for some time now. A few years ago, the American theorist Craig Owens warned of the risk of the "indignity of speaking for others"* in relation to art projects that claim to speak for repressed or discriminated social groups, not so much to solve their problems as to aestheticize them and convert them into conscience-soothing material.

Antoni Abad's work is not conscience-soothing. The artist does not set himself up as anyone’s spokesman; instead he provides the necessary means with which others can freely and autonomously express themselves and at the same time think alternatives. Since 2004, Abad has been developing the project “Megafone.net” and inviting groups of people on the fringe of society to express their experiences and opinions by way of face-to-face editorial meetings and mobile phones. The cell phones, which allow participants to create audio recordings and images that are immediately posted on the Web, act as digital megaphones, amplifying the voices of individuals and groups that are often overlooked or misrepresented in mainstream media.

Since 2004, with involvement and commitment, the artist has worked with a number of different groups: Taxi drivers from Mexico City (2004), young Gypsies in Lleida and León (Spain 2005), prostitutes in Madrid (2005), Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica (2006), motorcycle messengers (motoboys) in São Paulo (2007), displaced and demobilized people in Colombia and young Sahrawi refugees in the Algerian Sahara (2009).

In 2006 and 2008 Abad worked with people with limited mobility in Barcelona and Geneva. For these projects, participants used GPS-enabled mobile phones to photograph obstacles and architectural barriers they found in the streets and to create a real-time, web-based accessibility map of their cities. During 2010, he worked in Barcelona with blind and visually impaired participants following the same principles.

The presentation of the “Megaphone.net” project aims to be the first step towards working in the near future with a specific community in the city of Wroclaw. In this sense, the debate of the Culture Congress as to whether art can become a mechanism of social transformation could be not merely theoretical, but can be put into action here.

Montse Badia

*"The Indignity of Speaking for Others: An Imaginary Interview", in "Beyond Recognition. Representation, Power and Culture", Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Artist: Antoni Abad ( born in 1956; lives and works in Lleida, Spain)

Curated by Montse Badia