Europe Travel News

Revel in Barcelona's contemporary art scene

Spain is a region of many traditions that define its many famous parades and celebrations. However, a more refined tour of Spain's festival scene will reveal that the land can also be sharply modern. This November, Barcelona will be home to a city-wide contemporary art festival that pushes into the future.

Opening up art
The WeArt Festival is two-month event that provides a platform for new and emerging artists all over the world. Born over a cup of coffee in a Barcelona borough, the festival takes on a casual mish-mash of various artistic disciplines, from graffiti to photography to new media art.

This wide-reaching embrace is part of an overall goal to open up discourse between artists and citizens previously not present in Barcelona culture. While only in its second year, festival planners hope that the WeArt Festival will be replicated in other regions. Given these grassroots ambitions, the festival sets itself apart from other art fairs by not explicitly setting up means for commercial exchanges between artists and consumers.

Theme and variations
The festival revolves around a set theme, which becomes both a starting point for artists as well as a means of framing presented works. While last year's theme of sex was decidedly more risque, the 2012 festival will focus on the concept of subversion.

"What do we mean exactly the issue of subversion?" asked the festival planners rhetorically. "The art of destabilizing ideas, transgressing the preconceived limits, providing with symbolic value to the aesthetic form. The ability to be curious and to be able to transmit ideas by screeching other's minds…"

Artists are provided with a number of historical reference points to better frame their ideas, including Marcel Duchamp's subversive works in the 1910s, the Nazi party's ridicule of what it called degenerate art in the 1930s, and the house arrest of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Art in bloom
That theme has since manifested itself in Banksy-inspired street art and murals of anarchist Russian protesters. In one art piece, tiny blocks of wood form a figure reclining an an armchair, with more blocks of wood - or parts of the person - fallen into disarray about the floor. Other works take on a decidedly surrealist bent in the vein of last century's Dali-inspired painters. A few exhibitions have already passed - the festival having started in October - but serious gallery-goers still have another month to indulge in the contemporary festival.

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