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Red Home. Opening Canarias Cultura en Red

'Red Home', courtesy by Francis Naranjo

Sometimes one is surprised by politicians, less concerning their administrative initiatives but rather as to their decision to commission a daring artist with a public assignment.

We are used to assignments through which the authorities hope to distribute their ideas everywhere at all costs; we know their enthusiasm for values whose (arbitrary) validity is elevated by acting politicians to a universal validity.
In Spain, this behaviour – since we Spaniards live in a democracy – is not well liked. Politicians prefer the diverting or the archaic when they commission a contemporary work of art. They assume that we lack patience to accept a statue, that could make a new example at a public location.

It seems as if politicians would slowly begin to understand and to adapt – as a result of this new spirit – to the course of time. And so the Canary government tried again to attract our attention, and to make us discover that the Canaries had always been precursors regarding „Spanish art". But due to the time difference, they are living one hour in advance, compared to the Spanish mainland, and so unfortunately, we did not yet get the chance to realise it. We only have to review the history of contemporary, both popular and high, culture in order to notice this.

And now it happened again: the regional government commisioned a strange assignment and consigned the grancanary artist Francis Naranjo to contribute in an artistic way to the appearance of some offices. This task which is now being realised evokes large expectations in the art world; everybody is hoping that the offices, as the source of some new artistic services, could contribute to the distribution of Canary art. And the artist Francis Naranjo contrived to accept the commission, and yet to avoid the hit of it, and finally, to remain unharmed.

"Red Home"
courtesy by Francis Naranjo

Known as the putative descendant of originality's pathology, contemporary art does not contrive very well to create something that does not correspond to the personal interest of the artist. If discussed from the viewpoint of collaborative art or under the premises of relational aesthetics, some of these premises are recognisable in the office-design which is raising the hope that it could result in new future creations of other artists.
The work of Francis Naranjo which I observe – if not since his start, then at the latest, since his first performance on the peninsula – , took a direction in the last years that expresses a deep concern about the society from which we suffer. It is the concern about a society with an all-around implemented video supervision system which started almost simultaneously with the interest for video creation of this artist who had comfortably ranged between sculpture and photography before.
But his works remained small and perhaps silent vis-à-vis a hostile environment that he started to discover;
Perhaps the assumption could be made that he might have sensed the consequence entailed by a deeper immersion in his own work – namely the consequence of an alienation from the population. He disliked in particular the vision of a society that is increasingly restricted by an omnipotent technological environment. In this way – and as I say, almost simultaneously – his interest for video creation and for the accusation of a hostile environment developed insofar as video creation in his work is supervision, in large part video supervision.

In his work, he frequently uses the metaphor of a supervision station that brings you from the outside to the inside, constantly in the same rhythm: first you see what is outside that you are not – a place where you have been recently (that is: I follow your steps, because I know where you are coming from). Then you see yourself inside, in a mechanism, and as a part of it (in an even interspace and from a diagonal point of view, so that you consider yourself as an element of a unity, as another link in the chain of events). Finally you see yourself in the extreme foreground (that simultaneously effaces and shows you, without leaving the slightest doubt about your actual presence.) This ontological sequence passing over from the environment to yourself, appears in many of the latest works of Francis Naranjo, both in his photographs and his installations of videographic atmosphere, expressing a special impression of agitation which is emphasized by an alarming red characterising his work and accompanying him – I think – since the beginning of his career.

In the durable creation that he has realised for the Canary government at the facade and in the entrance area of the new offices „Oficinas de Canarias Cultura en Red", the formation features named above recur: we see the red, its light and its colour, a monitoring that makes one, in the end, perceive the own face as a part of the office entrance, the text warnings (in the text notices with red letters) on the facade, the attempt of an immersion from the entrance into an environment of sensual deprivation so that the visitor quickly adapts to what is awaiting him. And what is expecting him here, is the expansion of the Canary culture; this is the reason why he will be surrounded by walls with photos showing the seven Canary capitals of the respective island.
His predeliction for disorientation finds its expression insofar as he covers the floor and the stairway of the entrance area with artificial grass, and as he creates in this way an unstable ground sapping the secureness of one's steps, and forcing one to alter these, and consequently, to enter the new office with attentive caution. So finally, it can be concluded that this creation of Francis Naranjo does not simply represent another work of art in his career, but rather the success of having overcome this commission, of having satisfied the client, and nevertheless, of being able to continue the analysis and consideration of his latest concerns.

Text: Nilo Casares
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