Metrònom, December 2005/ January 2006 Barcelona

The Galician artist Carme Nogueira, appearing for the first time in Barcelona, has produced an installation – with architectural, photographic and video languages – specifically devised for Metrònom. Her site-specific work is a reflection on contemporary city planning, which lives through the illusion of having found the universal solution for human habitation; in opposition to this Nogueira has developed, by means of subtle cardboard structures that are reminiscent of the urban shelters of the homeless, a habitable device that provides a critical reading of the social and economic context of the city.

The installation Refuxios (Shelters) is the result of an action in the urban context of the Born district in Barcelona. In September 2005, on an empty and abandoned plot in the same block as Metrònom, occupied by graffiti and used by the homeless as a place to sleep, Nogueira set up an ephemeral habitable structure, a living-room made of cardboard, as a space that appropriated an urban non-site in disuse, an ambiguous location between the public and the private scene. The action consisted of occupying the living-room, of using it and giving the abandoned place a positive value as a meeting point for a group of people who exchange objects, have a cup of coffee or chat among friends. Nogueira believes that these uses, whichor the possibility of other ways of doing things. The exchange of objects, offering something and taking something in return, refers to the possibility of other kinds of economies. Her action develops on the empty plot a residue that produces the reflective device which is her installation at Metrònom.

The installation uses representation as mise-en-scène: the art work as a performative place of open-ended interpretations where the spectator can be the agent who orders his or her own senses. Refuxios deconstructs, from its assumed privacy, the sense of the public: the everyday space of citizenship where it is possible to dissent, in which to celebrate the intimate revolution that meaningful actions are meant to be. The video screening and the image of the site-specific installation on the cardboard shelter make this work a strategic site from which an active model of citizenship can be rethought: a device that
makes the spectator assume the consciousness of being a refugee in the face of the overbearing space of the capitalised city. Nogueira’s method, which can be described as ‘making one’s path while walking’, creates a different way of knowing the environment that in turn leads to thinking about urban speculation or gentrification: hot spots in a city such as Barcelona and a district such as Born, where the Barcelona brand has become uncomfortable to certain sectors of the citizenry and provokes conflicts in inhabitation.