Curated by Eloy Martinez de la Pera, the project brings a series of works of the so-called "The year without a summer", that year of 1816 in which an ecological crisis occurred due to the eruption of the Tambora volcano, a drastic drop in temperatures that caused years of cold, hunger and epidemics. However, it also brought with it catalytic years of creative processes that have transformed our artistic legacy.
"The Year Without a Summer" is a project that delves into the interconnections and leaks of this first global crisis that occurred right at the birth of the industrial age, the decline of the Enlightenment and the beginning of the Anthropocene, with the current ecological catastrophe, much deeper and deeper.
The exhibition takes as its starting point an invented opera, an ambitious 'gesamtkunstwerk' that narrates the epic of human extinction and in which the musical composition has been replaced by aromas and the stage part by performance reading. The works that are presented are conceived as an exercise in giving life to the ghost-characters that star in it through sculpture and perfume. A space of leaks between fiction and reality where art and the ecological crisis are interconnected, and that delves into the multiple dark angles and cultural intersections between that exciting year without a summer of 1816 and the present moment.
Thus, the music of the opera, its notes in the form of essences and aromas distributed throughout the room, are the protagonists of a subtle exhibition artifact that guides the visitor's path. And in this mental journey, the pieces of the exhibition are presented to us as the presence of cultural ghosts. An imaginary lyrical work in which everything is true because everything is invented, because it is a fiction that filters into the physicality of the exhibition seeking to get closer, not to reality, but to the truth. The opera would function as a kind of ghost-host that introduces us to all the others. The monsters and ghosts of romanticism intersect with those of the Anthropocene, writers and painters speak to us from another time about the urgencies of our time; Byron and the Shelleys caught in the rain at Villa Diodati, Mary Shelley's creature, poets' lives felt like a work of art; its dark fate and the dark fate of life on earth,…volcanoes, rain, cold…global warming and sea monsters that remind us of our certain extinction.
The arrangement of the pieces in the room follows the chronological order of the opera… Byron and the Shelleys welcome us in the mist of a perfume that recreates the rain of that summer of 1816…. Each piece that is presented is one of the characters from our script that come to life through sculpture and in which elements and concepts of romanticism have been revised from the perspective of the project; elements such as the ruin, the poison of romantic suicide, the gothic horror novel and an idea of the sublime and the unsettling coexist with the ever-present figure of the eco-catastrophe. ((A tension between life and human destructive activity where the history of art, literature, music, popular culture and above all contemporary art are approached as the only valid starting point to build individuality. The only valuable thing in the dark human soul, the little salvageable from the shipwreck to which the terrible predator that we are has brought the planet).
Elena Urucatu and Carlos Maté's work deals with darkness... a dark approach to dark human nature. They usually work between sculpture, performance, the image or architecture and design, performative experiments and audiovisual installations, in which the eco-catastrophe and the shadow of extinction are always present. An approach that always starts from a non-didactic, psychological and dark perspective: in a space full of shadows where the works produced are a form of death, turning life into a fragment, a frozen ruin.