ARCHIVE / 2013 / Texts

Eudald Camps
Art critic

Tasting Menu

One of the great discoveries of contemporary cuisine – that cuisine which, without being art, shares with it numerous concerns – is the «tasting menu». This involves, as is well known, a catalog of culinary possibilities spread out in time that turns the diner into a sort of gastronomic judge or, in a lesser measure, into a deluxe dilettante capable of discussing cuisine armed only with the enormous quantity of sensorial information – pure fantasy – received via «tasting». The formula, adopted by fields which, metaphors apart, have very little to do with food, like philosophy (Manuel Cruz) or cinema (Roger Gual), owes its success to at least two reasons. The first is «synoptical»: today, victims, as we are, of immediacy – or of the tyranny of velocity – , anything that offers us the possibility of passing through an enormous landscape at once, without having to get up from the table, fascinates us. This is one of the principal characteristics of our time: «Real time prevails over real space and the geosphere – Paul Virilio tells us – ; the supremacy of real time, immediacy, over space and surface is a consummate fact and has an inaugural value (it announces a new epoch)». We can resist it, but as Giorgio Agamben reminds us: «An intelligent man can despise his time, while knowing that he nevertheless irrevocably belongs to it, that he cannot escape his own time.» In this sense the second reason for the success of the «tasting» formula is economic: the hypothetical diner needs to «invest» few resources – in time and material – in order to reach the status of «connoisseur». It is enough to have gone once to the Bulli Restaurant or the Can Roca Winery to gain access to a select club of gastronomical experts who, in fact, could spend the rest of their lives consuming canned goods.

In spite of everything, the «tasting menu» has an illustrious predecessor that endures, precisely thanks to the fact of not being edible. We refer to that art history written in lower case which is largely the history of prints. To think of the possible genealogy of reproducibility is to think of a way of approaching the most democratic dimension of image consumption. That which is «lost» is overwhelmingly compensated for by what is «gained». The one who has best explained this paradox is Walter Benjamin, author of a fundamental essay (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936) that puts emphasis on this possible interpretation up to the point that characterizes the art of the present, exactly for its character of being a copy that has lost that unique aura: «Nevertheless – writes Benjamin – even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership». Despite this, Benjamin notes that although the «perfect copy» does not exist, one cannot avoid an indissociable fact of the logic – economic – of art and of our consumption of images: «A work of art has always been reproducible. Man-made artefacts could always be imitated by men. Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft, by masters for diffusing their works, and, finally, by third parties in the pursuit of gain. Mechanical reproduction of a work of art, however, represents something new. Historically, it advanced intermittently and in leaps at long intervals, but with accelerated intensity. Thus it reached its maturity».

A maturity, always provisional, composed of accumulated singular experiences: since that distant 15th century which saw how the invention of printing demanded a new type of images, art history is in great measure the history of graphic procedures. For this reason the «tasting menu» that the Mini Print offers year after year and with a praiseworthy constancy, is «international» in the most precise meaning of the term: its function is to vindicate the survival of that foundational moment when works of art were liberated from the monopoly of the dominant elites and offered in a democratic manner to a majority public that, from that time on, is its unique and legitimate proprietor.

Mercedes Barberà Rusiñol
Director of the Mini Print International of Cadaques

The Mini Print International of Cadaqués celebrated its 33rd anniversary in 2013. Thirty three years during which artists from all over the world have sent us their beautiful works making it possible for the exhibition to last until now.

We now face times of economic crisis, of moral and ideological disquiet, of violent attitudes controlling painful and bloody revolutions in countries that were previously included in the exhibition.

Despite these difficulties the Mini Print continues to exist with no diminishing of the artistic and technical quality of the participating artists. It is a clear demonstration that nothing and nobody can stop art, and this is fortunate because it makes our world more habitable.

The exhibition, shown at the Taller Galería Fort in Cadaqués during July, August and September was much visited. This tendency indicates that every year participating artists from all over the world are encouraged to travel to Cadaqués to see the show and contribute, with their presence, to enlivening it.

The personal shows of the winners of last year’s Mini Print were both a success and a celebration. Prue Mac Dougal of New Zealand, Montserrat Ansótegui of Spain, Jinan Kobayashi of Japan, Patricia Niemira of France, Maria Heed of Sweden and Nanna Sjöström of the Äland Islands all attended their respective openings and acted as jury for the 33rd Mini Print. Their presence among us filled us with interest, sympathy and communication which we will always remember.

Coinciding with the show in Cadaqués, the Mini Print exhibition took place in Wingfield Barns (England). Ian Chance, its promoter in the UK, contributed to its continuity with much success in the number of visitors, thanks to the co-operation of the media.

During October and November the Mini Print was exhibited in the Tharrats Foundation of Graphic Art in Pineda de Mar. The show was presented by Mr. Xavier Amor, mayor of Pineda. We are grateful for his presence and the interest he demonstrated by his kind words and his agreement to continue housing the show in his beautiful and comfortable village.

Sophie Cassard, connected to Cadaqués for many years, exhibited the Mini Print in her gallery l’Etang d’Art in Bages (France) during November, December and January. Her enthusiasm mobilized a public attendance from all of Southern France including many participating artists from all of Europe …and beyond.

I want to point out the importance of new technologies in spreading knowledge of the Mini Print throughout the world. We have many friends and followers who encourage us, to whom I want to send my heartfelt thanks, because art is communication and their opinions, enthusiasm and commitment to the Mini Print help us carry on despite difficulties.

I always put on record the gratitude that I feel for the participating artists. I admire them very much and feel great friendliness towards them. They are the soul of the Mini Print.

Until the next show!