There and Then
Diptych: 105 x 240 cm
In addition to working as an artist, Manuel Saiz is a cultural manager and the director of projects like VideoDictionary and 25hrs. As a result, he is able to move between the worlds of management and artistic creation, with each facet of his work influencing the other in fascinating ways. He uses video interviews, educational activities related to art, writing, and other participatory strategies to produce pieces that are complex in terms of their conceptualisation and spatial dimension, and that integrate diverse media. As an artist he is particularly interested in investigating relationships between culture, in the form of technology, and nature, as manifested in the human factor, in our society. Some of his most recent works have explored the ways in which these two domains collide and coexist in contemporary society. Formally, the artist uses dual images, in both photography and video, to subtly juxtapose parallel universes. Though the worlds he shows us may seem to stand in opposition to each other, the relationship between them is in fact more complicated. In Allí y entonces, the image of a septic, sanitised, orderly laboratory—based on rational principles of organisation and at the service of scientific research—contrasts with one showing a procession—a ritual based on belief, on mythic and religious forces, in which we are denied a view of the penitents’ faces, which are covered by black hoods. Against the codified language of our urban societies, the artist counterposes other, more organic ways of understanding the world, belief systems that are more rooted in land, community, and tradition. But Saiz’s dual images also invite us to look beyond the surface: realities that appear to be more natural also contain codified elements, and random chance frequently plays a decisive role in scientific research. Close observation of the shared space where experience unfolds is the artist’s modus operandi, whether he is focusing on the art system or human society more broadly, as he seeks to understand how the various spaces and times with which we interact are organised, and explores the structures that codify us and define our landscape.
Núria Enguita, Caixa collection website.