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Muntadas- On Translation: The Audience

February 7 through April 29, 2001

Internationally acclaimed conceptual artist Antonio Muntadas will feature in an exhibition opening at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on February 7, 2001. Muntadas—On Translation: The Audience will comprise three installations: The Board Room, Between the Frames, and a site-specific piece that is part of the artist's ongoing project On Translation: The Audience. Muntadas is renowned as a pioneer in the fields of video, installation, and Internet art. Born in Barcelona in 1942, he left Spain in the late 1960s and has subsequently embarked on a career that has taken him to every part of the world to create and present his work.

Each of the three major works being presented by the UC Berkeley Art Museum address the mediation of information within contemporary society. The Board Room (1987) brings together thirteen religious leaders—ranging from Pope John Paul II to the Ayatollah Khomeini and represented by a gilt-framed photographic print—in a familiar board room setting, complete with large, rectangular table and lush carpeting. Tiny video monitors are set in the mouths of each photograph broadcast segments of televised speeches or sermons. Amidst the noise the words of each speaker become indistinguishable from those around him. In this installation Muntadas suggests the important role media plays within the "business" of religion, and the ways in which spiritual concerns can become corrupted by a quest for economic and political gain.

In many of his works Muntadas has presented an ironic critique of the art world that has sustained his career. In Between the Frames, begun in 1983 and completed in 1993, Muntadas created a collective portrait of the art world of the 1980s through hundreds of interviews with representatives of its various facets—museum curators and directors, gallery dealers, collectors, docents, critics, the media, and finally, artists themselves. This installation presents selections from these interviews, displayed on individual video monitors on which speakers communicate in their native language (transcriptions are provided at each station). As the interviewee speaks, Muntadas intersperses images that act as leitmotifs, enlivening and extending the verbal text.

On Translation: The Audience, which gives this exhibition its name, is part of the On Translation series begun in the mid-nineties. On Translation: The Audience began in Rotterdam in 1998, where each month for eleven months photographic triptychs were placed on display in the public spaces of various cultural institutions in the city. Each triptych had as its theme a "mediation"—the coming together of two different ideas—and was intended to prompt viewers to question the role played by museums and other cultural institutions in creating cultural values and meanings. The eleven triptychs were exhibited at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and a twelfth triptych was displayed at the entrance to the exhibition space itself. With each new exhibition of this work a new triptych with local significance is added. The thirteenth triptych was produced and shown at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. In Berkeley, a fourteenth triptych, produced for the occasion, is displayed in the museum lobby.

Public Programs
Wednesday, February 7, 6:30 pm
Lecture and video screening
PFA Theater
Antonio Muntadas will present a major slide-illustrated lecture about his current exhibition at the UC Berkeley Art Museum, placing it in the larger context of his pioneering work in the fields of video, installation, and Internet art. Muntadas will consider how the three works on view—The Board Room, Between the Frames, and On Translation: The Audience—address the highly-charged issue of the mediation of information, and attempt to analyze and expose the invisible power relationships in organizational structures. Following the lecture, at 8 pm, several of Muntadas's videoworks will be screened. Regular PFA ticket prices apply: $7 general; $5 members/UCB faculty, staff; $4 UCB students. Admission to the lecture alone is free for members, UC students, faculty, and staff.

Thursday, February 22, 12:15 pm
Curator's walkthrough
Gallery 2
Senior Curator Constance Lewallen will offer a walkthrough of Muntadas—On Translation: The Audience, discussing the three works on view by this artist, whom she has known and whose work she has followed for twenty years.

Sunday, February 25, 3 pm
Guided tour
Gallery 2
Assistant Curator Alla Efimova will discuss the three works that comprise On Translation: The Audience. Efimova, who is the coordinator of the exhibition, received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, and specializes in photography, art theory, and twentieth-century art.