Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

“la Caixa”: Bank and Cultural Sponsor

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The new prime minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy reduced 15 ministries to 13 last week by merging culture and education with sports, and entirely eliminating science. It’s difficult to imagine a Spain without a Ministry of Culture. This of course is an austerity cut to salvage the Spanish economy.

The new minister of culture, education and sports, Jose Ignacio Wert has stated “We will have to do more with less. There will be less culture of the subvention… One of our first priorities will be to develop the patronage law” has quoted by the newspaper El Mundo.

So it appears that if culture is to continue to proser in Spain it will largely be through private sponsorship. The incoming rightist party PP will in general seek to privatize, cut social spending and allow the markets to prosper… Once again, Friedman’s formula for a neoliberal economy will be the solution to Spain’s economic problems. Following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, irresponsibility of banks and the recent economic collapse, I simply can not understand this. I can understand Spaniards being frustrated by the previous prime minister and the Socialist party’s inability to make economic reform, but to elect a strongly neoliberal party in its place?

"la Caixa" vandalized bank facade

Who is the vandal - the bank or those effected by predatory bank loans?

During my current stay in Madrid, I am two blocks from a branch of “la Caixa” – “currently the leading savings bank in Spain and the third largest financial entity in the country” – according to their website. Over the last couple weeks, new stickers have appeared on the bank’s window facade. Old stickers announce a June 19th demonstration and states “The plazas and the streets are ours… VIOLENCE IS TO CHARGE 600 EUROS”. New stickers declare “LET IT BE KNOWN, THIS BANK LIES AND STEALS AND THROWS PEOPLE FROM THEIR HOMES” and links to “Plataforma Afectados por La Hipoteca Mdrid” a blog for those effected by Madrid mortgages. There’s another sticker not pictured that presents four CEOs with nicknames and their salaries. Whereas the bank ads on the window state “Tranquility… that is what I ask of my pension plan…”

Meanwhile, “la Caixa” funds the magnificent CaixaForum Madrid the architecturally amazing cultural and social center that reflects the bank’s social cause. It’s entirely free to visit and features the vertical garden below on the facade of an apartment building across from its entrance.

CaixaForum Madrid, Vertical Garden

CaixaForum Madrid, Vertical Garden - the social work of the large bank

The complexities of the capitalist economy… does this beautiful and “free” cultural center make up for the injustice felt by many thousands who are experiencing economic hardship?

What will happen to edgy cultural centers such as El Matadero that is currently publicly funded, when private money is its only lifeline?

Currently the feature exhibitions at CaixaForum are “Delacroix (1798-1863) and “The Persistence of Geometry” featuring a long list of well established artists such as Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Dan Graham, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mario Merz, Robert Smithson… Whereas El Ranchito, the latest program at Matadero Madrid focuses on work by young artists with a social agenda. Would CaixaForum ever feature the art of a young large collective Todo por la praxis? Or the very difficult work of Sally and Gabriela Gutiérrez Dewar who have worked with squatters to realize their work at El Ranchito? Or will art work presented at Spanish cultural centers be reduced to safely historicized pieces that exist in the collections of the bank and its board members?

Written by ricardo

December 26th, 2011 at 1:05 am