Born in 1965 in Valladolid (ES)
Lives and works in Barcelona (ES)
Performance and installation
Year of Purchase: 2001
‘Life can only be understood by winding it back.’1
How is power exercised? What are the control mechanisms and how do they operate? To what extent are we willing to submit to rules?
The devices proposed by Dora Garcia are so many laboratories, experiments for observing behaviour and testing the moving borderline of power and ‘its effects of domination [attributed] to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings.’2
Influenced by Conceptual art, notably the work of Dan Graham, Dora Garcia reflects on the parameters and conventions governing the presentation of art, on the question of time (real and fictional) and on the boundaries between representation and reality. The series of projects Inserts in real time, begun in 2001, raises the question of the definition of art and the limits between a performance and a real-life situation. The name inserts ‘translates the intention these works have of interrupting, upsetting, questioning or twisting real situations in real time. All inserts are played by actors (professional or non-professional, actors in the sense that they act following certain instructions) and function in several contexts, not necessarily art exhibition contexts.’3
Proxy / Coma 4 is one such experiment, and takes place in the context of the institution, introducing the notion of surveillance. In one room, a woman, going by the generic name of ‘Proxy’, lives in the space, moving around among the visitors. For the duration of the exhibition during opening hours, ‘Proxy’ is filmed: her deeds and gestures, and those of visitors present in the area, are recorded each day by a camera onto two four-hour cassettes. Each cassette is then carefully dated, catalogued under the name ‘Coma’, and stored in a library housed in the second room. Each minute, each day of the exhibition is thus systematically documented and filed away, thereby supplying a physical measurement of the duration of the exhibition. In an adjoining room of the same size, a video projector plays a cassette picked off the shelves at random, thereby producing a staggering, a disturbance of the time cycle. Past, present and future become entwined, opening up ‘an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times.’5
Dora Garcia sees the exhibition as an experimental protocol: namely a unit of time within which visitors and works meet. The artist brings these parameters together and transforms the place where the works are shown into a place where the work suddenly appears. The video recordings document this time spent together. However, this definition is self-subversive for Dora Garcia deliberately throws her viewers, who lose their bearings in time, being placed in a present that splits into two (the visitor’s own present, that of the performance), and the random and deferred present of the video being played back. She also instils in them doubt as to their involvement in the exhibition, making the public both unwitting actors in a performance and spectators of an event that has already taken place according to set parameters. In thwarting and toying like this with the public’s expectations, she forces people to question the very concept of the exhibition and their own role in it. By introducing the permanent control dimension into the rules of the game and suggesting the existence of this surveillance, she brings ‘Proxy’ and with it the visitor to address the question of the limits to what can be accepted, the limits to their submission both to the rules laid down by the artist and to the institution.
1 Dora Garcia, Le futur doit être dangereux, 1991–2005, Musac, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León / Frac Bourgogne, Dijon, 2005.
2 Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir, Gallimard, 2005, p. 35.
4 Proxy / Coma first went on show at the Fundació La Caixa, Barcelona, in October and November of 2001.
5 Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’‚ in Labyrinths, Penguin Modern Classics, 1974, p. 53.