The Centre of Attention homepage the centre of attention
at the Venice Biennale



Curator: Rosa Martinez
Arsenale di Venezia

Biennale de Venise
The title of this exhibition at the Arsenale di Venezia is taken from one of the Corto Maltese books, a fictional character created by the Venetian writer and comic-designer, Hugo Pratt. Corto personifies the myth of the romantic traveller: always independent, always open to chance and risk, and always crossing all kinds of frontiers in pursuit of his own destiny.

Taking a fictional character as inspiration is a way of affirming that art is an imaginary construct and that fantasy helps us towards a better understanding of reality. In the baroque contemporary condition, we live both a drama and a paradox: we still believe in the need for reason, enlightenment and utopia, even if we have become their most ferocious critics from the new positions of post-colonialism, race and gender. Passion and melancholy, trust and desperation, pleasure and guilt, combine to define the critical approach to the world in which we live.

Art is a fight in the symbolic order – the most relevant creators are those who open new perspectives for linguistic, social and ideological transformation. Today, questioning the autonomy of art and taking aesthetics into everyday life is part of an unstoppable widening of frontiers, of an extension of horizons that goes beyond established models. The adventurer, the philosopher, the scientist, the artist or the exhibition organiser, try constantly to discover new lands and to create new possibilities of thought.

This exercise is difficult in a context where new ideas, people and products circulate at high velocity, where the artists mimic each other constantly, and where institutions franchise culture and in which marketing is the principal methodology of action. One of the main functions of the curator is to reduce the background noise, to assign value and to organise syntax and discourses, which introduce sense into the unending traffic of messages.

The concept of traffic is essential to the social development, as it implies movement and interchange, not only in the social and political, but also in the expositive and libidinal economies. Translation and interpretation are essential to intercultural passages, especially to global exhibitions such as biennales. Throughout its long history, La Biennale di Venezia has become the epicentre, the privileged context for the confluence of artists coming from different geopolitical and cultural contexts.

Offering a chance to analyse the concept of internationality and to redraw the contemporary topographies of alterity, La Biennale is a unique opportunity to invent new forms of neighbourhoods between artists, disciplines and audiences.

In this context, the exhibition Always a little further is an essay presenting artists and aesthetic trends relevant at the beginning of the third millennium. A visit to the Arsenale proposes a fragmentary trip, a subjective and passionate dramatisation to discover the zones of light and dark in our convulsed world. This journey intends to draw the most significant lines in contemporary artistic production and to show that art still holds a promise for those who want to embark on the sort of voyage that made Deleuze take Proust’s motto: the real dreamer is the one who goes out to try to verify something.

Rosa Martínez
November 2004

Rosa Martínez:

Spanish art critic and independent curator. In 1979, she graduated from the University of Barcelona in the History of Art. She immediately began to work in co-ordinating cultural activities for La Caixa Foundation. Between 1988 and 1992, she was artistic director of the Barcelona Biennale.

In 1996, she was co-curator of Manifesta 1 in Rotterdam, in 1997 directed the 5th International Biennale of Istanbul, and in 1999 the 3rd SITE of Sante Fe in the USA.

In 1991-92 and 1997 she returned to La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona as curator.

From 1998 to 2002, she was curator for the projects proposed in the international ARCO fair of Madrid.

In 2003, she was curator of the Spanish Pavilion at the 50th International Art Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia. This project, given to Santiago Serra, uses the idea of frontier to question the limits of nationality and leads one to reflect upon the themes of blame, madness and punishment.

Her career as independent curator is accompanied by an intense activity as journalist, art critic and as organiser of numerous conferences at museums, universities and cultural institutions. She regularly writes for various daily newspapers and specialised periodicals, including "Flash Art International", "El Paìs", Atlantica, "Letra Internacional" and "La Guia del Ocio". She is also the author of numerous critical essays and monographs on contemporary artists.

For more information, visit Rosa Martinez's website

Corto Maltese, Toujours un peu plus loin