Dancing under the shadows
curated by Alessandro Castiglioni
Opening: 9 September 2014, 5 pm
Listen to the Sirens | Space for Contemporary Art
After the inaugural exhibition, Listen To The Sirens | Space for Contemporary Art continues with the first exhibition devoted to an artist who lives and works in Gibraltar: Ambrose Avellano.
In the week when Gibraltar commemorated the 1967 referendum which essentially enshrined the small territory’s freedom of choice to be part of the United Kingdom, Avellano presented a project with strong political overtones questioning the true margins of identity, autonomy and independence of his country. A series of important works and new productions will characterize Avellano’s exhibition, with works that investigate very delicate issues, both historical and contemporary. The exhibition’s title, Dancing Under The Shadows alludes to this dimension: each individual’s potential to be able to assert his or her freedom, despite the presence of menacing shadows, those of the great Rock of Gibraltar, of history or the pressing political concerns.
An example is the work that is the guiding image of this exhibition: The Closed Frontier Years. This is a book written by Avellano, dedicated to the difficult years of Gibraltar’s isolation from Spain, when between 1969 and 1985 Franco closed the border with the tiny British territory. After collecting documents and testimonies, the artist decided not
to publish the book and turned it into a sculptural object, observable only from the outside. In this way the memories it preserves live and are filtered only by individual memory and the desire of each to share these events and personal experiences with others or to preserve them as exclusively personal.
Dancing Under The Shadows is therefore an exhibition project that moves constantly between these two strands: one being that of the historical events and political and social relations between Gibraltar and Spain, and the other the intimate and personal dimension, composed of memory and experience and, for this reason, even more fallible, real and dramatic.
Ambrose Avellano (1951) is a British artist currently working and living in Gibraltar and Manchester. He completed his studies in Fine Arts at Nelson & Colne College, University of Central Lancashire and Victoria University of Manchester. He has been Art Lecturer at Blackpool Sixth Form College and Nelson & Colne College of Further Education and Art advisor for the Gibraltar Government. Among his numerous exhibitions we can remember Nostalgia 1966 – 2010 at the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery, Gibraltar and the British Millennium Art Award (2000), Gibraltar Garrison Library art award (2002), the Blands (2009) and Bonita Trust (2012) Awards. He realized public art commissions for the City of Manchester, the county of Lancashire and for the Governament of Gibraltar.
“This is a book I wrote recounting life as it was lived in Gibraltar in those years, the years of the closed border with Spain. This book will never be read: writing destroys memories.”
“These words spoken by the Spanish dictator General Franco are an allusion to the Gibraltar eventually becoming Spanish again. It seems that Franco said that Gibraltar would have been fallen, like the fruit when is mature. That’s the reason of this installation. Also Franco died in 1975 and never saw Gibraltar returned to Spain”.
“During the 1960s and the 1970s Manolo Mascarenhas, a journalist and broadcaster working for the GBC, the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation, wrote and presented a radio programme on GBC Radio called “Palabras al Viento”. Every week, on the airwaves, he rebutted Spanish claims and abuse directed at the Gibraltarians. Mr Mascarenhas became a local hero and “Palabras al Viento” an iconic weekly event which was closely followed by everyone on the Rock and many in the Campo Area. ”
“Dancing Under the Shadows is a performance, an expression of resilience in adversity.”
Before entering in the exhibition, people are in queue waiting for a supervisory control. Like if they were close to the Spanish border nowadays.