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Thomas Hirschorn brings his Equality Float to Es Baluard
15 July, 2016
Every summer Es Baluard invites an international artist to present an individual themed exhibition in the Aljub and in 2016, it is the turn of Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn.
Prior to his project, Flamme é+ernelle 1, in early 2007, Thomas Hirschhorn wrote about the philosopher Jacques Rancière , and mentioned that when the young people of the suburbs of Paris, or of any city in the world, expressed themselves by burning cars in front of their homes, they ignited the fire of anguish, the flame of alarm. They attracted universal attention, and reminded people that the flame of equality would always remain lit. Through Jacques Rancière’s book Le maître ignorant, and the character of the schoolmaster Joseph Jacotot, the artist had interpreted that the flame of equality is an eternal flame, and that therefore the vindication s or signs to maintain that flame would never pass. And the essential thing, in the words of the artist himself: The game is not over.
Time has shown us that, in effect, the game, and the fire, are not over. We live in an age when the emergence of anguish, wars, borders, social movement¡s, violence in the name of freedom and equality, have not ceased to increase. Events that indicate to us that that flame will never be extinguished. Thomas Hirschhorn has spent many years practising art in co- existence with philosophy, with literature, with society and with politics, through pieces in which a large amount of objects, images and information is presented. Many of these works, characterised by their social message, and by the poor materials used (tape, cardboard, aluminium foil, etc.), have been presented in international institutions and museums, and also in places not linked to the world of art, or in the public space.
The piece that lends its title to the exhibition represents a float measuring 21 metres in length by 6 metres in width . Equality Float is an allegory of the community, showing both its diseases and its remedies; a reflection on the notions of equality/inequality, themes that the artist brings up through the interaction of political and philosophical essays (Spinoza, Deleuze, Bataille, Gramsci). The work includes the text “ Community of Unequals ”, by German philosopher Marcus Steinweg, with whom Thomas Hirschorn has been working for years, specifically commissioned for this piece, and presented for the first time in 2008 at MARCO in Vigo. Twenty – two pages that sought to show a synthesis of thoughts, from Kant to Blanchot, related to the concept of the title.
Texts exhibited integrally in this project, alongside other banners and slogans. In the centre of this monumental piece, there is a huge reproduction of Rousseau’s The Social Contract . Two gigantic hands on both sides: an open hand receives the other half of a red and white capsule. At the front, one main assertion : “Equality = in Law and Life” . At the back, the library books that inspired the project, a bilingual bibliography of the titles consulted (from Kant to Chomsky). Finally, hung up around the float for consultation, as well as the paperback edition of The Social C ontract , there is Critique of Pure Reason, a collection of writings by Michel Foucault and John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. The banners hanging from the sides present numerous lists of different words. A float is a mobile artifact made of poor materials and used in popular festivals such as carnival celebrations or other contemporary manifestations. Materials that coincide with the way of presenting the works of Thomas Hirschhorn and which, in some way, he uses to commemorate in this piece, to promote and present not a character or a certain minority, but a universally – valued concept – equality. A universal term that must circulate and never be extinguished .
Behind the apparent disorder this work may transmit there lies a rigorous arrangement determined by the artist, which is explained in a separate display case . Here texts, drawings and preparatory plans, photos, a list of titles envisaged for the project, a “Map of friendship between philosophy and art” and highly descriptive plans for the float are displayed, separating all the elements according to three criteria: theme, position, shape. Unified by the predominance of the colours blue and yellow, lines of flowers, posters with texts by way of slogans, the books and wires on the sides of the float, offering a near – symmetrical, classical composition. With Equality Float , the Swiss artist continues with his philosophical commitment in favour of intellectual emancipation initiated by Jacques Rancière. A mobile piece, which rolls forward, is navigated and is updated like an eternal cry towards equality . It comes to Mallorca by boat, and is presented in the singular space that is the Aljub, in the Museo Es Baluard. A former water reserve for the population and seafarers who passed through here from the 17th century on.
Top Image: Thomas Hirschhorn, Equality Float, 2008. Photo: Katrin Greiling. Cortesia Thomas Hirschhorn and Galerie Chantal Crousel