Protobosque o un intento para estar juntos
After his first solo exhibition El diálogo, el rumor, la luz, las horas o (lugar para contemplar la transformación) in 2015 and the project Laboratory for curiosity with the Lourdes Fuhem School in Madrid in 2018/19, Protobosque o un intento para estar juntos is the artist’s third project together with Galería Elba Benítez.
Teaching and learning, as any good teacher knows, cannot be disentangled from one another. Although often presented otherwise, pedagogical activity is not so much a unidirectional process of transmission and reception but rather is akin to an estuary, where the flow is not linear but rather circular, even symbiotic, drawing on the play of multiple currents and dynamics. In this sense, pedagogy, which is so often taken to refer to methods of teaching, can equally be thought of as referring to methods of learning. One cannot exist without the other; or rather, none can exist without the others.
Pedagogy, and specifically pedagogy in an expanded sense, is central to Nicolás Paris’s artistic practice, as can be seen in his current exhibition Protobosque o un intento para estar juntos (Proto-forest, or In Pursuit of Being Together) at the Galería Elba Benítez. Unlike traditional academic pedagogies, Paris’s ‘pedagogy’ is not one of instruction, but rather of inquiry; learning is question-based and open-ended, not goal-oriented; the operative methodology does not lead along a prescribed path toward a pre-established goal but rather seeks to follow the detours and crossroads that may be encountered along the way.
In keeping with this point of departure, rather than utilizing the exhibition space as an ostensibly neutral container in which individual art works can be ‘experienced,’ in Protobosque o un intento para estar juntos Paris approaches the space as an opportunity to create an environment in which to facilitate generate, individually and collectively, a learning experience. The exhibition’s ‘content’ within that environment consists of a selection of objects — drawings, videos and architectural elements — and a public program of encounters or ‘conversations.’ The drawings and videos serve as visual aids or prompts; created in Paris’s spare, plain-spoken aesthetic and structured around simple poetic juxtapositions of content and scale, they allow the viewers to establish their own, almost private connections and sequences of connections, their own ‘paths.’ The public program, on the other hand, involves a series of collaborative, unscripted, workshop-like encounters, open to the public and held in the gallery’s central space, in which specialists in various fields — arts, sciences, crafts and others — are paired with musicians performing on wind instruments in a free exchange of language and of languages.
Paths cross, even as they are being made. Ultimately, none can exist without the others.