If Paris were an aquarium, Charly would be its tropical fish, jumping out of the water each night with no one watching. The award-winning fishmonger peddles fish during the day and tours as a drag queen through the French capital’s underground scene at night. Now, for the first time, Charly is crossing the Atlantic to take part in the Despacio performance festival, uniting his many worlds: fresh fish, art performances and queer appearances.
Upon entering Charly’s fish market, situated on a busy Paris street, one quickly observes a universe of dreams and desire: glassy eyes of dead fish stare at you; posters for drag shows paper the walls; a handwritten thank you note from the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, perches alongside his Michelin medal. It’s more than a fish market, it’s a hodgepodge of the various stories life can offer when one's passion is given free reign. It’s a stage, where fish are the props and the clients become the public.
When day turns to night, our fisherman lets his diva emerge, darting like a tropical fish through the underground rivers of Paris. In placing Charly's fish-market at center stage of the festival, Despacio celebrates the grandeur of a man's dreams, desires and duality – each one a stand-in for our own.
On April 29th several international and local artists will turn his shop into an unending stream of performance and fantasy.
From drag shows, musical contributions, theatrical interventions, to long-durational art performances – all will question the roles we tend to play in life, as well as those we tend to ignore. To transgress the rules of society and fashion is to give rise to an inner creativity and break with conformity.
Visitors will bear witness to a real fish-market, one where they can buy fresh fish and see them prepared into meals on-site. For French speakers, there will be plenty of opportunity for conversations with the enigmatic fishmonger. For the non-French speakers, body language will suffice. In Charly's grotto, it's anything goes.
The fish market and performance festival takes place on April 29th 2017 at Despacio. (Facebook Event)
Participating artists: Charly Le Poissonnier, Dino Real, Elyla Sinvergüenza, Javier Calvo, Monsieur Bien, Oscar Ruiz-Schmidt, Señorita Abril, Sirup Gómez, Robertito and more.
This marks the second edition of the festival. It was originally conceived by Sandino Scheidegger for Random Institute and staged in 2014 in Zurich. Credits for drag film: Performer: Elyla Sinverguenza, Camera, Directing and Editing: Guillermo Sáenz, Costume and Styling: Marcus Carmon, Production: Nicholas Blevis & David Torres, Music: Arca - Anoche. Credits for film about Charly: Camera: Fabian Niklaus, Animation: Raphael Etter, Concept: Leila Hincelin and Sandino Scheidegger.
Twins Jörg and Rolf Fischer are deeply bound to one another by their fate: they were both born deaf and, due to severe diabetes, gradually lost their sight during the course of their lives. Photographer Marlena Waldthausen moved in with Jörg and Rolf to capture one of the most remarkable relationships ever recorded, forged by their love and care for one another, everyday in every way.
Born deaf and now blind, 49-year-old twins Jörg and Rolf Fischer are totally reliant on one another for companionship and communication. They share everything, including a bond that transcends everyday brotherly love.
The brothers experience life very differently from the way most of us do, and that is what makes their relationship so unique. As it is understandably difficult for them to communicate with the outside world, they support each other in their daily lives through their own language and humour.
Jörg is now completely blind. Rolf, who is still partially sighted, tries to support his brother as best as he can. He guides Jörg, even though he does not see the way properly himself. If there is written information, he reads it to Rolf in spite of the great effort.
Photographer Marlena Waldthausen lived with Jörg and Rolf at their care facility and in their parents home for more than 7 months, documenting their bond with her camera and doing her best to learn their language.
This solo exhibition opens on March 23th and runs through April 22nd, 2017 at Despacio (Facebook Event).
Marlena Waldthausen was born close to Stuttgart in southern Germany in 1987 and is currently based in Amsterdam. She spent several years in Latin America living in many different cities, including Buenos Aires and Mexico City. From 2008 to 2012, she studied Regional Studies of Latin America at Cologne University before becoming a student of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hannover.
Outside of her assignments, Waldthausen works mostly on long term personal projects in film and photography. She won the 2016 VGH Award, is one of five winners of the 2016 Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award, and was nominated for the 2016 Freelens Award and the 2015 Balkan Photo Award.
As if it were an appendix of the mothership, Carlos Fernández docks at Despacio a habitat that encapsulates not only his work, but also himself and even a patch of life where each one of us might find ourselves.
COORDINATES: 9°56′00″N 84°05′00″
OTHER MARKERS: Avenida Central, Calle 11, San José, Costa Rica
RESOURCES: canvas, plants, seeds (I), Carlos’s hat (II), soil and chicha (III)
ACTIVATIONS: pedagogical workshops (IV), funky bar (V), seed exchange (VI), and others, still unknown.
This is a real person’s temporary and imaginary work camp. At this station, a series of live elements coexist; they are not the final products but parts of a simmering process. It is also an installation that sustains itself through collective participation and collaboration.
While participating in this experience, the concept of excess provides clues and serves as a common thread: in abundance lies beauty. The plants’ greenness blends with its smells and paintings function as registers of past lessons and future explanations. It is imperative to allow oneself to be enchanted by the layers that coat and recoat every corner—superimposed, hidden information, and the possibility of germination in every square centimeter of the space.
We discover that we can access a fragment of a practice that has long represented not the intermingling of one or two disciplines but rather Carlos’s life itself: his everyday to-and-fro and his passion for agriculture, art, botany, and education. The production of this work represents the search to redefine these practices as well as an act of appropriation.
This station, set at the center of San José, will offer moments for learning, contemplation, and dance. Always in the spirit of exchange—of knowledge and experiences, of seeds and the multiple possibilities between practices that will here appear to overflow and interconnect. There is a subtle but continuous invitation of integration; we are invited to engage in the (self)care inherent to the relationship that we can create with the soil and harvest.
Suddenly, art is life understood through the idea of purpose: of working the soil as if it were a canvas; of generating spaces to share or exhibit beyond the traditional ones. Even of needing to collect and exchange seeds as a reflex of turning the gaze toward the beginning, a gesture that seeks to perpetuate life.
Thoughts by Paula Piedra. Translated by Paula Kupfer.
Carlos Fernández's solo show at Despacio in San José, Costa Rica opens March 23th and runs through April 23th, 2017. (Facebook Event)
The indoor garden that is part of the exhibition will remain throughout 2017 and serve as Despacio’s new central archive.
Despacio starts the year with a performance festival set to explore the limits of new exhibition formats and underground cultures. Invited curator Alejandro Ramirez Salas is conceiving the ongoing program, which begins with the festival and continues with eclectic performance nights held every six weeks.
February 4, 2017
Performance Festival (Facebook Event)
Participating artists: Yamil de la Paz García, Johan Phillips, Erina Libertad, Mimian Hsu, and Sergio Rojas Chaves
March 16, 2017
Performance Night (Facebook Event)
Artist: Andres Gudiño
April 26, 2017
Naked Fish Festival (Website / Facebook Event)
Fish Market and Performances
Participating artists: Charly Le Poissonnier, Dino Real, Elyla Sinvergüenza, Javier Calvo, Monsieur Bien, Oscar Ruiz-Schmidt, Señorita Abril, Priscila Gómez and Robertito
Directed by Sandino Scheidegger
Artist: Stephanie Williams
Subsequent performance night dates and details to be announced.
Performance nights take place at Despacio every six weeks. This new program, if not otherwise noted, is curated by our guest curator Alejandro Ramirez Salas.
Windows must attend to a constant identity crisis. They go unnoticed, only to rouse attention when they are dirty or somehow obstructing the view. In a museum or exhibition space, where they compete with artworks for attention, even soiled they may go unseen.
Often one to consider art-making from an unexpected perspective, particularly in his use of everyday materials, Catalan artist Ignasi Aballí proposes with Un paisaje posible (A Possible Landscape, 2017) an altruistic gesture in defense of windows. Down with indifference!
First presented in 2006, Un paisaje posible has this year been recreated in the form of site-specific installation for Despacio’s panoramic windows, activating not only the panes of glass but the sprawling view of San José they look on to. The work draws attention to the glassness of the glass, to its transparency, and to its relegated position as an often invisible middle ground—but also to the efforts we make to establish taxonomies in order to classify and organize the visible world. The result is an instant activation of both surface and background, with the descriptors applied on the interior suggesting infinite possibilities outside. The artwork is by design incomplete and contingent, entirely modifiable by the view, the weather conditions, and the position of the viewer—a small shift to the left opens up a host of new readings to the imaginative mind.
With this work Aballí gives away his love for words (and his appreciation for specific ones such as “transparent” or “screen”) and his frustration with the medium of painting. In his search for different art materials, Aballí has throughout his career utilized more contingent media: the daily newspaper, dust, sunshine, glass. With Un paisaje posible, the artist uses existing windows to create a map without a fixed terrain, an indexical cartography with movable referents.
The work also puts forth an effort of classification, tapping into visual conventions from science and textbooks to chart the physical and the visible and invisible real, but also the non-real, the possible. Aballí’s labels suggest ever-changing conditions: Does that sign point to a building? Where is the condensation? Can you spot the pollen? There’s no raindrop today, but will there be tomorrow? Is all the dust concentrated there? What about the combat plane? It’s not there but it could be.
By including the labels in several languages, Aballí invokes another custom of didactic displays but conveys his awareness of artworks’ (and the art-viewing public’s) peripateticism. While necessarily non-exhaustive in its selection of languages, it reflects generosity while proposing a multilingual poetry: how may an English or Spanish speaker interpret “Stickstoff,” the German word for nitrogen? By extension: how are we different; how are we the same?
In subverting the usual relationship between outside and inside and proposing a static piece that is nonetheless open-ended and playful, Un paisaje posible invites new ways to consider the view from Despacio’s top floor. By extension, it suggests to us viewers different ways to experience our own windows and those views that have become unremarkable. We may think of creative ways to name the things we see, but also those we may not. What labels or markers might we use to activate our spaces, remedy our own ennui?
Thoughts by Paula Kupfer
This work was commissioned as part of Despacio’s site-specific installation program and will be on display throughout 2017. It follows an installation by the Austrian artist Maria Anwander, presented in 2016.
Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 1958) received his Fine Arts degree from the University of Barcelona in 1981. His work has been exhibited in the Drawing Center (New York), Printemps de Septembre (Toulouse) and at the Venice Biennale in 2007. It has also been shown in museums such as the Serralves Museum (Oporto), the Ikon Gallery (Birmingham) and the ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany). Last year he opened his extensive solo show at Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.
With the courtesy Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico.