I’m sitting in a familiar groove. On the metro, an Irish backside slides in familiar arcs over the well-worn plastic; the stops whirl past in a familiar constancy, made intimate up and down the line; and the rhythm of the capital bubbles in an unchanging stew of urban exteriors and interior worlds.
A word. A word! I’ve only just learnt it and now I see and hear it everywhere. Carl Jung hopped over the thoroughfare without paying a ticket and infers that will is simply the future tense of a language, not that engine inside of you.
The business of language learning is incongruous, and kaleidoscopic connections make themselves known almost as if learning one new thing shakes up your very being; information starts clumping together, breaking bread and building your mind.
Mini-Exhibitions in Madrid & Major Expectations
The same sensation overwhelms me with culture – as soon as I learn a thing, no matter how obscure, it worms its way into my normal life, hitching its wagon to trains of pop culture or Irish history.
And I was reminded of this feeling when, in the incipient smells of Easter week, I went to a handful of free exhibitions in La Tabacalera and Casa Arabe, tapping into the collective unconscious so beloved by Jung. In those odd moments of clarity, facilitated by these mini-exhibitions in Madrid, all ideas and influence were sharing the same trail, heading west to sow the land.
I love this cavernous interior. Once a tobacco factory, it’s now a cultural space which often hosts three exhibitions at a time. Currently, it’s home to Crear/sin/prisa, which was too abstract for my tastes; Cucurrucú by Cristina De Middel, which examined violence in Mexican society; and finally, the ‘rediscovery’ of Jan Mayen, as island cast between Greenland and Iceland.
Cucurrucú was intriguing because it looked beyond the headline-dominating Narco killings and delved into hidden violence through cartoons, songs, and graphic photos. It did a good job of showing how violence can be insidiously normalized, and her cartoons packed a punch because they took traditional sentiments jarringly out of context. Till death do us part sounds more sinister out of a church, next to a menacing figure holding a weapon.
The Jan Mayen part was the best, in my opinion. It backed up a tale of farce and ego with compelling primary sources and it was a much more straightforward tale of thwarted ambition and saving face. A highlight was reading a diary from the boat and seeing how one Irish sailor kept everyone’s spirits up. Another was the apogee of the trip – the dramatic disembarkment on another island, straight out of Hollywood, and a sideline which offers an insight into how History is made.
Este Largo Viaje Hasta Tu Mirada by Rachid Koraïchi is beautiful – I just don’t understand any of it. I’ve always found Sufism to be impenetrable. It’s fascinating, though, because it’s built on a Jungian past, which is to say a collective one. Linked to his ancestors, Koraïchi melds philosophy, writing and aesthetics into a universal, profound whole.
Downstairs, there was an Amnesty International exhibition about missing people in Syria. There were booths where you could hear oral testimonies from their families and a variety of personal items. These were things they left behind, like a pair of glasses or a scarf. There was even a section on how those critical of the regime kept in touch, with examples of the phones they used.
I loved it because it typified the best of Amnesty International. To exhibit this emerging link between revolution and technology was breathtaking, as this new reality has barely been solidified in the media let alone in culture. No doubt, once the literal dust settles, there will be civil movements fighting for missing people, but until that happens on a bigger scale, Amnesty must stay true to one of its core principles and bear witness to those missing and lost.
Finally, seeing those personal effects made for a sobering visit.
More Mini-Exhibitions in Madrid
Despite the varying quality of these exhibitions in Madrid, I highly recommend checking them out all the same. Exhibitions like these jump up and down like Are You Being Served‘s John Inman and exclaim: I’m free!
Follow this link for a great overview of what’s hip and happenin’ around the Spanish capital.
You might be surprised by contours at the border of your mind, and at the hands that signal to you from our collective, interwoven past. I certainly was, but I’ll keep those chain of ideas, provoked by these mini-exhibitions in Madrid, a secret.
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Thanks for reading about mini-exhibitions in Madrid!