Institut Ramon LLull

Menú

Marc Dueñas
mduenas@llull.cat
17 Fleet Street,
LONDON EC4Y 1AA, United Kingdom
Tel. +44 (0) 207 842 0852

Institut Ramon Llull is a consortium comprising the Government of Catalonia, the Government of the Balearic Islands, and the Barcelona City Council. Its mission is the support and promotion of Catalan language and culture abroad, in all its forms and means of expression.

El Palomar: ‘Our revolutions are necessary on a larger scale’

paperllull.  Berlin, 01/11/2020

Agustín Pérez Rubio (Valencia, 1972), co-curator of the 11th Berlin Biennale, interviews Mariokissme (Málaga, 1980) and R. Marcos Mota (Tarragona, 1988), creators of the installation Schreber is a Woman (2020), on display from 29 October until 1 November at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. They are El Palomar: an artistic collective founded in Barcelona in 2012 as a place for production, research, dialogue and political visibility. Their work process has been hybrid and delocalised since their legendary space in the El Poble-sec neighbourhood closed.




Before inviting you to the 11th Berlin Biennale, the other curators and I had seen your previous work and your practices as creators of a space in Barcelona. How does your management and curating experience permeate your artistic work?

Looking back, we see our first phase as a learning process shared with our context. As well as rewarding, it was absolutely necessary, so that we could introduce queer work into the artistic panorama in a more solid way. It was undoubtedly a key moment in which various work, research and questions were brought together. Suddenly, our initiative became an intergenerational and international meeting place. Later on, as we had no kind of financial support, keeping the space open wasn’t viable, so we had to close it. We learned a lot from that experience. As soon as we have the budget, we want to prioritise collaborating with trans and non-binary colleagues, because generally, we only get invited to take part in projects where we have to explain the basics of queer theory over and over again. From the first phase of our project, we have learned that, for our revolutions to leave a mark on a larger scale, we have to go further, deepen our questioning, conceptually, aesthetically and affectively, while remaining accessible for a wider audience.

Is there a need today for a space like the one El Palomar had?

Absolutely, and we would be delighted to give the format we had another try with some adjustments. But, surprisingly, nobody has offered us the opportunity to do so yet.

On another note, another project of yours that was fundamental for us when deciding to invite you to the Biennale was the one on Alberto Cardín, titled No es homosexual simplemente el homófilo sino el cegado por el falo perdido (It is not simply the homophile who is homosexual; the one blinded by the lost phallus, too). In what way was this project a step towards arriving at Schreber is a Woman, the installation you are presenting at bb11? What traces of your previous work are found in it and what new challenges did you hope to overcome?

There is definitely continuity between these two projects. As well as their format, they share the same areas of research. Cardín was obsessed by the Schreber case, as it coincided with several of his lines of research, like sexual dissidence, religion and psychoanalysis. Even though Cardín only devoted one text to him, published in the El viejo topo magazine, Schreber became a regular reference in much of his writing. As it happens, he was one of the characters in the draft script he wrote in ’76, on which we based No es homosexual simplemente el homófilo sino el cegado por el falo perdido. We’ve been mapping out Schreber for years; we always saw genuine potential for experimenting in his case. The challenge was to open up a line of inquiry that would culminate in a video trilogy, and we think that this second experience will give us the chance to determine how to close this long research process.

The installation includes a showcase of artistic documentation from the research project behind it. What does this showcase mean to you?

 It contains a series of unique documents and materials of different kinds relating to the Schreber case. The selection of material is not arbitrary. It corresponds to a comparison between plastic criteria and bibliographic references, which suggests that it is more of a piece of art than a documentation station. The showcase has the power to tell a story without the visitor needing to see the video installation. This showcase concept is repeated through several of our projects. We believe it’s a basic exercise for defining the aesthetic experience as a whole empirically and determining the objectivity of the piece itself.

 

Both narratively and musically, the video installation is a kind of ‘techno operetta’, as well as an argument for symbolically killing the father and the gods of both religion and the capitalist patriarchy. How are you bringing the figure of Schreber to the present day?

 The Schreber case has a lot of layers, and we agree with Cardín that it needs to be revisited from the perspective of queer theory. Freud pointed to Schreber’s traumatic relationship with his father as the root of his schizophrenic episode, and justified his argument with what he termed the ‘Oedipus complex’. We want to reject this psychoanalytical discourse that states that sexual or gender dissidence is due to a traumatic experience or context.

 

You have to kill two fathers, symbolically speaking…

Yes. First, Schreber’s father, because his theories on education were used as a basis for the totalitarian ideological currents that thrived in the European dictatorships of the twentieth century. Second, Freud, for identifying homosexuality and transsexuality as a problem deriving from a trauma. Cardín noted that homosexuality is only a problem in non-integrative societies.

There’s still a third father to get rid of: the capitalist patriarchy we were talking about before.

It’s interesting how Schreber, who was an atheist, invented his own gods during his schizophrenic delusion, as he had no ancestral god to which he could attribute his break with his assigned gender and sexuality. In our film, we wanted to take away the feelings of guilt and moral judgement Schreber transferred to his delusions in his time, thus opening a space for enjoyment – at least in fiction. In Schreber is a Woman, Schreber is played by a non-binary person, and the goddesses are played by two trans women.

It hasn’t been easy organising the Biennale in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have gone to great lengths and taken a lot of care to put the Biennale on from September to November without anyone getting infected. Your production and filming were also subject to a series of protocols, which can be seen in another documentary piece, Una cama para Schreber (A Bed for Schreber), which is available to watch on the bb11 website. What does this piece mean?

Our filming schedule coincided exactly with the state of alarm being called, so we had to postpone it twice. Having monitored the situation closely and made predictions, on the third attempt, we managed to film on the first weekend we were allowed to travel with authorisation. The idea of recording the making-of was related to the parallels we drew between the health crisis and the Schreber we wanted to portray, as well as the filming itself. Una cama para Schreber (https://youtu.be/ZprE1MjJwys) focuses on the setting where most of the action takes place in Schreber is a Woman: the bed; the archetypal space both for illness and for pleasure. The bed as a soft platform, a place for dreams, the internal landscape, or in this case, delusion. We are talking about how to live with illness, to tame desire, in an anticapitalist sense, to validate the states relating to mental health and integrate them into life.

 They are issues you already looked at with the artist Ismael Smith.

The confinement we portrayed in the end is more reminiscent of imprisonment in one’s own psyche, because evoking the queer memory of the history of Europe is more reminiscent of the mental connections made by someone with schizophrenia than of an archaeological investigation

    Logo Institut Ramon Llull
  • A consortium of:

  • Generalitat de Catalunya Govern Illes Balears Ajuntament de Barcelona

This website uses its own and third party cookies to offer better browsing. By browsing in it the user agrees to the way we use cookies. Users can prevent cookies from being generated and erase them by using the options on their browser. Blocking cookies may mean that some of this website’s services and options do not work properly.


Cookies are small pieces of data that websites send to browsers and which are stored in users’ devices: computers, mobile telephones, tablets, and so on. Their purpose is to improve the experience of using the website, as these archives make it possible for the website to remember information about the user’s visits, such as preferred options or language. In this way the website personalizes its content and becomes more agile and useful for the user.

By browsing this website users agree to cookies being installed in their equipment that enable us to find out the following information:

Types of cookies

This website uses session, or temporary, cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies merely keep data while the user is visiting the website. Persistent cookies store the data on the device’s hard drive so that it will be accessible in more than one session.

Depending on the type of data obtained the website can use technical cookies.

These allow users to browse the webpage and use the different options or services it contains. For example, controlling data traffic and communication, identifying the session, entering restricted access areas, requesting enrolment or participation in an event, using security features while browsing and storing content.

Personalization cookies.

These allow users to access the website with some general characteristics that are either already predefined in their hard drive or defined by the user. For example, the language, the type of browser used to access the website, the chosen content design, the geo-location of the device or the regional configuration from where access takes place.

Statistical analysis cookies

These make it possible to monitor and analyse the behaviour of visitors to the website. The information gathered is used to measure a website’s activity and to produce users’ browsing history, making it possible to improve the service.

Third party cookies

Third party cookies that manage and improve the services offered can also be installed. For example, statistics services like Google Analytics.

Managing the cookies in my browser

Users can allow, block or erase the cookies installed in their device by configuring the browsing options.

If the use of cookies in the browser is blocked, some services or functions of the webpage may not be available