Artists As Catalysts – Lourdes Fernández

Lourdes Fernández is the director of Alhondiga in Bilbao. We have talked about "Artists As Catalysts", the exhibition, that has been curated by Ars Electronica Linz GmbH and Alhondiga.

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Lourdes Fernández is the director of Alhondiga in Bilbao. We have talked about “Artists As Catalysts”, the exhibition, that has been curated by Ars Electronica Linz GmbH and Alhondiga.

“Artists As Catalysts” is the first exhibition in the field of media art or digital art at the Alhondiga, is that right?

Well, I have only been director of this institution since March 2012, and I think that in 2011, Ars Futura from Barcelona had a small exhibition about technology. But it’s my first exhibition, and the relationship with Ars Electronica is really strong and I hope we can continue working together in the future.

So we reckon you’re happy with the way the exhibition turned out?

I am very happy, just as I said at the pressconference. I think it has been really interesting for my team, they have been working very hard for the last year. The results are very good, no one at the team is an expert in new technology. Of course we have Gustavo Valera, who has helped us as an external collaborateur, and this is the key for us. It has been a long, long process for us. For me, the results are very clear, we have 12 people working on this exhibition, we finally managed to work with the local university as well, we always wanted to do this. So in terms of development, also together with the Ars Electronica – Team, I am very satisfied.

Do you have a favorite piece?

Yes, I do, although I am not sure I should say it. Of course I like Desire Of Code by Seiko Mikami, but the most poetic, maybe the most artistic is Earth by Finnbogi Petursson. It is like a painting made by new technology. My background is Contemporary Art, being a manager at Arco in Madrid, all my life I was in this world, and of course a lot of works from this field are about beauty, it’s not only about the concept.

Last question, about Alhondiga and Bilbao. How big is new media arts in Bilbao or Spain in overall?

Well, as far as I can tell, not that big yet. For example, back at Arco, we were using sort of a box to invite artists from this field, but we had only 8 or so, so there was not lot of response. So I think, since I have been moving quite a lot through the market, I think that the problem is the market. It is more difficult, more expensive, of course in Linz you have the Futurelab, that creates interest, so the communication is much easier, and I don’t think that developement in Spain is this far.

Regarding Bilbao, it is one of the strategies of the city, to not only to promote art and media, but to bring together art and technology, how art could be inside of technology and how it could change our life. This is why we were very excited when Manuela Naveau suggested Artists As Catalysts as the exhibition’s topic, because it would give us the chance to convince companies to support artists, their artworks, provide them ressources, and the results are great.

In the Basque country, the historical attitude is leaning towards industry, to make tools, this is a very specific thing about this region, because of the large amount of iron in the soil, big factories. So, to include art into this environment, is very interesting, we find new ways, different ways. So together with Ars Electronica, we hope to do some pioneering work, but there’s still a long way to go to come even close to Linz, for example. We don’t have the network, the infrastructure, yet, so this is were we’re going to work hand in hand.