Consulate 5.1 – Pep Dardanyà
Kunst & Zwalm 2003
Rozebeke, Zwalm, Belgium. August / September 2003
With the beginning of the nineties, a number of visual artists reinterpreted and reproduced in their projects what could be described as available cultural products, which entailed the inclusion in the world of art of formerly excluded, ignored or simply despised methods. In addition, a wide range of discourses, adopted from many different disciplines or other theoretical fields, have also been incorporated into the field of contemporary art. These strategies are not simply based upon incorporating or reproducing images of images, or on regretting previous statements, but to invent or propose user guidelines for models of representation and current formal structures. It is a matter of adopting and appropriating cultural codes, behaviours and everyday formalisations, and works of world cultural heritage, and putting them to work in a different context. The goal is to learn how to appropriate these structures in order to endow them with a different content that will generate a critical reflection upon their immutability.
This is the context in which Pep Dardanyà’s work of recent years has been developed. Through small anthropological experiments, usually ephemeral in nature, He provokes relationships between antagonistic social agents with the goal of generating a reflection on how we constantly negotiate reality, apparently immutable, beginning with exchanges in the social interactions developed in public space or in exhibition space. Most of the time, his projects arise from his exchanges and relationships with people in his own everyday surroundings, with the goal of incorporating their experiences in his projects. In these ephemeral installations, he reconstructs standardised versions of public spaces, but alter their content. These spaces, colonised or hijacked by different content, will be the platforms for producing a dialogue with the experiences of the project’s protagonists.
The dialogue established between the reconstructions of these hijacked spaces and the interaction with its users will endow the installations with meaning. This dialogic strategy, as we might ironically term it, is one of the best ways to think about the complexity and the contradictions of contemporary reality, and about the human condition in situations of social confrontation. The fieldwork regarding the context in which the project will be developed, and a comparison with other contexts, are the basic tools that he uses; this is the reason why most of the time these projects come together during a long process in which the results are partly configured.
Ephemeral installation of variable size comprising two flags, a distinctive plaque, some leaflets to take away and some interior scenographies.
Zwalm is a Flemish town near Ghent where a biennial project is organised in which several artists are invited to to develop a series of ephemeral interventions in different public spaces of the town. The fourth edition of Kunst&Zwalm, as the project is called, was carried out in collaboration with the Fundació Espais of Girona and a group of artists linked to the foundation were invited to participate. Pep Dardanyà’s proposal, Consulate 5.1, consisted of transforming an empty house in Rozebeke, a town inside the boundaries of Zwalm, into the offices of a bogus Consulate of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Days before the opening it was distributed through the mailboxes in the town and other neighbouring towns, a number of flyers announcing the opening of the fictional consulate, including a detailed account of the services it offered. The project was based on the retrieval of certain problematic aspects of Belgian history recontextualised metaphorically in the present. The sudden appearance of a Congolese diplomatic representation in a small town like Rozebeke was utterly shocking, reopened an episode of history that at present is still regarded with pride among some Belgians or with infamy by others, while attempting to restore the political dimension of public space and to convert it into a point of confrontation and of social interaction.