INSTALLATION: Arnasa. Maider López

Maider López
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
The Banco Santander Foundation and the museum are announcing a new work within The Guest Work partnership programme with the unveiling of a very special work today. The participants were Gabriel Zabala, director of Regional Institutional Banking in the Basque Country at Banco Santander; Javier Novo, coordinator of Conservation and Research at the museum; Maider López, artist; and Miguel Zugaza, museum director.

Within the novel context of the healthcare crisis caused by COVID-19, the museum and the Banco Santander Foundation invited Maider López (San Sebastián, 1975) to create an artistic intervention which interacts with the institution itself, while prompting spectators to reflect on the role of art and museums in society. This is the first time—in the 19 years and 63 editions in which The Guest Work has been held—that the museum has specifically created a work which in this case has the added value of being closely tied to both its own space and current events.

The result is Arnasa (Breath), an installation in which the brightness of the museum's light varies at the pace of breathing. Even though the museum is closed and has no humans present, the artist thus suggests that the museum is expanding and contracting and still "breathing", that it is alive and contributing to the communal life around it. In the words of its creator: "it is a piece made to be seen from the streets, to look at the museum from the outside and integrate it into the city".
Arnasa (Breath) (2020)
The current healthcare crisis has sparked an exceptional juncture in which museums almost all over the world have been closed. Yet they have kept working, the galleries have remained intact, and the paintings and works have continued to be kept in the environmental conditions they need to be maintained, cared for by the museum staff. These paintings have been there without the public, perhaps also in the imaginations of people at home, but especially present in the museum.

In Maider López's work, the Bilbao museum is opening its limits and visitors, absent thus far, morph into passers-by—like Charles Baudelaire'saimless flâneur—who perceive the work not by going inside but from the outside, at a time in history when walking around the city and the need for the outdoors have turned into collective yearnings.

Maider López describes her work this way:

"The museum breathes through light. The light inside the building is slowly turned on and off at the calm, constant pace of breathing. The light streams out of the windows, expanding the museum, connecting indoors and outdoors. The changes in the brightness of the light can be seen from the streets, and the passers-by see how the inside of the museum emanates light, giving the sense that it is breathing while drawing attention to the building's inner life.

The lights in all the museum's galleries gradually turn on and off at the same time. The entire museum breathes as one, and each of its façades shows it.

The gradual shift from light to darkness and vice-versa takes approximately 8 seconds, and between each light transition there is a moment of stillness (light or darkness) that lasts approximately 3 seconds. The sense that the building is breathing comes from the timing and the similarity with the frequency of breathing through inhalation (transition to light), air retention or apnoea (brief stillness) and exhalation (transition from light to darkness) and apnoea (darkness) again, as well as the constant repetition of these phases.

Though still closed, the museum is alive. When I visited the closed museum for two months, I felt how those works had remained there, even though we weren't there. It was a powerful sensation of life, that even when closed the museum is still contributing, like a garden we cannot enter or even see or enjoy directly, but whose trees and vegetation enhance communal life through the air, through the bees that visit it…

My work starts with existing elements which create a new situation when dislocated, thereby transforming communal realities. In this case, the rhythm of the light is dislocated to spotlight the life of the museum, expanding it, giving it movement and animating it. It is an installation that intervenes in the public space and architecture by breaking the static nature of things and places and encouraging us to seek new ways of seeing and interacting with our environs."
Opening: 04/06/2020
From: 04/06/2020
Until: 01/01/2021
Schedule: June: 11 am to 2 pm and 4 to 7 pm. July and August: 11 am to 7 pm. These conditions may be subjected to changes which will be announced with enough advance notice.
Location: Museo Plaza, 2




11:00 - 19:00


Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
Museo Plaza, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia
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