by Javier Arce

Ever since the first European museums were established in the 18th and 19th centuries, artists began to resist them, and occasionally called for the need to destroy them. From Duchamp’s ready- mades and Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto” of 1909, denouncing museums as “cemeteries, public dormitories, where one lies forever beside hated or unknown beings”9 to the institutional critique of Hans Haacke and Marcel Broodthaers in the 1970s, artists from all times have repeatedly questioned museums’ mechanisms of display. Indeed, as Iwona Blazwick states, “much of the twentieth-century avant-garde project may be understood as an assault on the procedures and establishments of art institutions.”10 However, as Duchamp probably foresaw as he conceived his first ready-mades, the museum’s power to define whatever is displayed within its walls would certainly remain unaltered despite such attacks. As Adorno already warned, on the contrary, their power has not ceased to increase.11 The claims of the demise of the museum have often been exaggerated.12 After all, even the foremost proponents of institutional critique have relied on the institutional setting and the expectations of its public for effect. Acknowledging this, Arce’s personal Bastard Museum does not naively deny the power of the institutional framework. On the contrary, now, perhaps more than ever, it recognizes that museums provide an indispensable frame, marking off time and place, alerting viewers and creating a sense of expectancy for the art work.
This becomes even more evident in Arce’s most recent series, Bastardos (2010) [Bastard Lithographs], roughly, the nucleus of the Bastard Museum’s contemporary art holdings (the adjective denotes their illegitimate nature, as well as the untraceable authorship and dubious legal status of the images on which the lithographs are based). Indeed, in these works, the artist shifts his attention from museums’ official reproductions to the amateur pictures taken by their visitors, often against museum rules. Printed with a similarly restrictive black & white palette, some of them were probably taken with cell phone cameras, judging for the grainy results. Among them, the series features works such as Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project at the Tate Gallery, Maurizio Cattelan’s performance with a Picasso mask at the Museum of Modern Art, or a photo of Santiago Sierra’s Wall Enclosing a Space, at the Spanish Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale. Tino Sehgal, Guggenhein New York; Martin Creed, Tate Britain; Marina Abramovic,
MOMA, Banksy, matthew Barney, Guggenheim New York; Vanessa Beecroft and Thomas
Hirschhorn. Although the selection of the works is somewhat arbitrary, the institutions where these images were
taken shed a light on the artist’s intention. The pictures were taking from Internet; Google, Facebook or FlickR, No-Offial pictures . All the venues cited rank high among the world’s best-attended contemporary art venues, and in fact, are often criticized as tourist attractions for the masses.6 In other words, the Bastardos illustrate the democratization of museums, or as certain critics would lament, the commodification and desecration of art7, and the transformation of museums into “something like discotheques.”
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Technique Graphic arts (Etching, collage...)

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