Say the right words, follow carefully the instructions, make the right move. What is the secret of a good player? Is there a winner? Who makes the rules of this game in which we live?
The Neoliberal society pushes us to a constant competition in which we have to follow the pre-stablished rules, win, and if possible, do it alone. It is paramount to adjust the body and the mind to the circumstances and have full domination of them, so we can perform in our best shape, either if it is to master professional sports, a creative work, or when interacting with other people. We have been told that self-control and to respect the limits is what is expected and desired, an example of right behavior. But, does that mean that there is no room for chance and experimentation?
‘As long as the summer lasts’ takes its cue from the idea of weather as a social concept on which we all agree. As the curator of the exhibition, Rafael Barber Cortell, explains, the meteorological conventions set the summer into some specific months of the year and under particular characteristics such as warm temperature, sunlight, and long days. Nevertheless, in some places, like London, a summer with that description could last only ten days, making its citizens longing for the warm and sunny beaches that we all pictured as part of the season’s landscape. Therefore the universality of social constructions as this one, is constantly challenged according to the varied personal experiences people have.
Taking this example as a metaphor of the agreements that shape our society, the exhibition guide us through ideas of defiance, chance and self domination. The artworks connect with these concepts besides unveiling skills that frequently remain hidden in between our routines, like the intuition that accompanies the act of creating. Divided in three chapters (one for each artist), that as the classic London summer last only 10 days, ‘As long as the summer lasts’ presents in the space of The Ryder the work of Tamara Kuselman, Lúa Coderch and Andrea Canepa.
The first chapter presented in the gallery is ‘The Go And The If’, an evolving installation and activated by the performance ‘All (sucks in a sharp breath), Right (ragged sigh) ’ by Tamara Kuselman. Inspired by something as incontrollable as a fall during the representation the performers take multiple positions, integrating in their subtle exercises clay objects representing the attempt of the human being to domesticate nature by modeling soil, air, and water and transform them into useful items. Same as with the clay, the performers try to control themselves, repeating simple sentences taken from a coach who trains athletes before important sport events. As a mantra these sentences help to avoid parasite thoughts and focus on their own effort alone. With a poetical language full of gestures, Kuselman shows us the extended use of interdisciplinary techniques (like meditation) in high competitive sports. She reflects on the extreme dedication that these practices require and how much pressure can be put on pushing the physical and mental limits of the human being.
The second chapter by Lúa Coderch presents ‘Shelter’, a video-work divided in fifteen small parts. This time, the exhibition space takes an intimate and precarious appearance with a screen made of wooden legs and a simple plastic sheet where all the short videos are projected in loop. The artist represents in these videos the construction of shelters with found materials around the world, in which a person could spend, at least, one night. Apart form the construction of the shelter in each of the fifteen parts we can hear the narration of a letter written by the artist. These letters, inspired by the spaces and the emotions provoked by the constructions of the shelter, evoke the affective structures in which we look for shelter when moments of life uncertainty like love or friendship. The work describes the traces that the human being leaves behind him, the processes and boundaries of learning, but also how relationships that are built in precarious environments bring us security and comfort in order to protect ourselves from an environment that we understand as hostile.
The work by the artist Andrea Cánepa is presented during the third and last chapter of this exhibition. As Coderch, she also experiments with the representational limits of the video, but in this case, she does it in connection to a live performance and its legacy in the gallery. ‘Until it lives in the muscle’ uses various wooden platforms with geometrical forms, which scattered around the space will guide the movements of the performers. Inspired on the choreographic system that Rudolf von Laban created, the shapes on the platforms remind to a board game that sets limits to each movement. The drawings and patterns represent a code that the dancers have to follow in order to execute their improvisation exercises. Therefore, the interaction between the performers, as in social relationships, is subjected to the rules of the game, but at the same time these are ambiguous enough to be reinterpreted and challenged. Canepa presents us the act of transgressing the rules as a playful and enjoyable game that materializes on the dancing bodies.
The three artists present different points of view on the agreements that we constantly negotiate in order to reach a supposed social equilibrium. ‘As long as the summer lasts’ proposes us to dig into concepts intrinsic to our routines and analyze their actual meaning and origin. But, we are not let alone on untangle these concepts, the exhibition, with its three chapters, guides the public through stories of perception, chance, exhaustion and consensus that are presented through the artists’ work. The moment and the space in which this project takes place allows us time to focus on each work, reflect, and somehow question the physical and mental boundaries that build our society, how to challenge them or on the contrary, how to follow its endless indications can slowly transform us. A very thoughtful exercise, that becomes kind of a game by the hand of Barber, Kusselman, Coderch and Canepa.