definition of the project

Map drawn by the retired skipper José López Redonda


The Costa da Morte* Project is the result of inviting three artists who make use of photography, to work in this region, with no narrative or descriptive constraints. It was not a question of making neither one nor three reports about the area, but of turning it into an environment of artistic creation, in such a way that the artists themselves could freely determine to what extent the area was to appear reflected, according to their aesthetic designs.

Cliffs, sand bars, rocky grounds, dangerous beaches…storms, sea surge, fog…by them, the singular geography of the Costa da Morte is defined. These features, together with the important maritime traffic, determined by its location, and the unsteady circumstances in which it has been operating, caused a great amount of shipwrecks throughout history, whether to the merchant navy ships sailing across the seas or to the seafaring people of the region. Experiencing these particular events, together with the isolation undergone by the region brought about the emergence of a powerful imagery. The recent tragedies of the Casón**, and of course thePrestige***, gave this district an important media projection, in which the area’s beauty and strength were closely bound to the tragedy itself.

Luis González Palma, a Guatemalan, resident in Argentina, in his work Ara Solis, conjures up the sea using ship scale models as a means of transport, dreams and fantasy.

Our familiarity with the places, where the models are located, makes it possible for the images to move apart from the strategies of pretence, which are so present in the photography of the past decades, and for them to acquire an important poetic strength.

For a long time, Luis has been interested in relational arts, even if his previous works did not follow this kind of formulations. Here for the first time, the visitors are challenged to write their feelings on the postcards, which in turn represent his works of art.

The fact that the exhibition is shown in  Cape Fisterra, and being there the end of St. James Way, is one of the reasons for the travelling and walking nature of the texts. These postcards, just as the ones used in later exhibitions, are being incorporated to the exhibition as a part of it.

The Argentinian Graciela Sacco in Any departure may be a confinement,suggests by means of a mural, the different meanings of the sea and the conflicting feelings it can provoke. In this district the sea is a very important way of life, sailors, gatherers of shellfish, barnacle collectors and merchant marine workers, lived on it. It was also the means by which a very important part of the population emigrated to America and even more, the main reason for solitude, of separation from your beloved ones and death.

The video installation breaks with the traditional flat screen projection, in order to experience with the relationships created among objects and images until a new dimension is achieved, the beauty and the dynamic nature of the sea are brought together. A simple footage of the sea ends up acquiring an extraordinary rhythm. This way the employed resources are similar to those with which she has been previously working through her series M2.

Finally, the Galician Fran Herbello, in Bonito, January 18th 1960, pays a tribute to the drowned sailors of the so called Bonito ship, and to his grandfather who died in the same way.

In a totally different working line, from that of previous works about the body, he leaves aside the conventional photographic materials, in order to let the sun itself craft the images on black cloths, like the ones rigidly worn for mourning in the rural Galiza. The sun through the wefts, made from the passport photographs of the castaway, whitens the fabrics allowing us to distinguish the different textures of the black cloths. The final result brings memories which are familiar to the artist himself: the mourning clothes, memories of his grandmother.

The work is conceived as an installation in which the wall’s hanging fabrics and the boxes, engage in a dialogue. The latter are used as photographic plate holders, lying on the floor, reminding us of the graves in the atriums of churches, symbolically restoring the tombs that the sea had denied them.

This currently itinerary exhibition was conceived to be shown in Cape Fisterra and there, an interesting relationship was established between its works and the sea. Through the windows breathing among Fran’s works, the sea talked to the portraits of the sailors, in Luis’ images, a dialogue was established with the suggestive bedspreads of Fisterra’s houses and finally, coming out from the dark space where Graciela’s works were, we felt wrapped by the sea.

The importance of the Project’s aforementioned relational aspect was especially present not only in Luis’s work but also in Fran’s, in such a way that the showroom becomes an emotive space for memories, just as it was revealed in the opening of last summer’s exhibition.

A project of this kind aims at achieving the transcendence of the crafted works, which will clearly happen in this case and in fact, during the not-so-many months since it has been operating, some of them have been shown or published in different contexts.

This project was the product of enthusiasm, and it would not be possible without the generosity assumed by the artists, Alexandre Nerium and Pablo Carrera, director of the Mar de Vigo Museum. A special thanks to all the people who kindly made it possible.

Manuel Sendón

Curator of Project Costa da Morte

*Costa da Morte: The Death Coast, is part of the Galician coast. It received its name because of the considerable amount of shipwrecks along its treacherous rocky shore.

**Casón was a Panamanian cargo ship, carrying various toxic chemicals that caught fire off the coast of Galiza in1987. It was subsequently grounded off Cape Fisterra.

***The Prestige was a Liberian-owned oil tanker that on 19 November 2002 sank off the coast of Galiza.


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