Artist As Catalysts

“All artists are alike. They dream of doing something that’s more social, more collaborative, and more real than art.” Dan Graham

This insight inspired “Artists as Catalysts” and shaped the development of this exhibition running from July 4 to September 8, 2013 at Alhóndiga Bilbao. In collaboration with Lourdes Fernández, director of the cultural institution that just underwent a Philippe Starck makeover, Ars Electronica Linz GmbH has assembled a showcase of projects that endeavor to transcend conventional boundaries in an effort to inspire those who behold them.

The exhibition is subdivided into three themes—Environment and Sustainable Future, Control and Manipulation of our Mediatized World, and Find Your Voice and Express Yourself—and thus, issues of pressing current relevance and matters that will also be of central importance to the future of our planet and our society.

The works on display here challenge our perceptions, affront and surprise us, call into question concepts like the private and public spheres, surveillance and control, subsume natural and artificial processes, and configure them into artistic processes in which installation visitors are expressly called upon to participate. The artists and their works function as catalysts that aim to trigger discourses, bring out new ways of considering things, open channels, and launch innovative upgrades and enhancements. Audience members are cordially invited to engage in this confrontation, to actively scrutinize these issues, to seek answers as well as new questions. The exhibition and the works of art that comprise it constitute a start, the first step. “Express yourself” isn’t just the theme of this exhibition; it’s to be taken literally as a call to action.

On display are 12 works by internationally acclaimed artists: Seiko Mikami, Julian Oliver, Daniil Vasiliev, Paolo Cirio, Alessandro Ludovico, Manu Luksch, Matthew Gardiner, Ehu Zarata, Daan van den Berg, Eric Paulos, Cesar Harada and Finnbogi Pétursson. Some of these pieces have already been creating a stir in the art world; others are brand new. In these installations, the artists themselves have their say. Thus, the discourse isn’t conducted anonymously; every encounter, every idea has a face.

The point of this exhibition is to showcase the highly diverse modes in which artists function as catalysts and the reactions they trigger thereby. Artists are these enzymes, the intellectual proteins of our time. They distill essential themes and reveal processes that challenge our perceptions in new and interesting ways.

The exhibition at Alhóndiga Bilbao runs from July 4 to September 8, 2013.