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, Robertito and more.
Directed by Sandino Scheidegger (Random Institute)
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 in Paris: Camera: Fabian Niklaus, Animation: Raphael Etter, Concept: Leila Hincelin and Sandino Scheidegger. Credits for film about Charly in Costa Rica: Ernesto Varga. Credits for photos of the festival: Juliette Chrétien and Erno Hilarion.
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.
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.
May 27th: Plants Workshop Carlos Fernández & Sergio Rojas Chaves
June 10th: La Mala Mano Farming Workshop with Carlos Fernández
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.