'Amikejo', 2011 exhibition season at the Laboratorio 987, MUSAC, León, Spain
Participating artists: Pennacchio Argentato (29 January–3 April 2011); Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum (9 April–12 June 2011); Uqbar (Irene Kopelman & Mariana Castillo Deball) (25 June–11 September 2011); Fermín Jiménez Landa & Lee Welch (24 September 2011–15 January 2012)
Amikejo was a series of four exhibitions at the Laboratorio 987 of MUSAC, León, structured around relational and spatial twinning. This is most evident in the fact that the artists of each installment are formed by two collaborating individuals, as is Latitudes, the curatorial office formed by Max Andrews & Mariana Cánepa Luna invited to conceive the season. These artistic pairings involve various modes of binomial friendships – couples in life, dedicated duos, intermittent work partners, as well as new allies.
The series encompasses a further register of doubling prompted by a critical reflection on the conditions and expectations of a ‘project space’ such as Laboratorio 987 within today’s contemporary art museum. Such a site is typically annexed from a hosting institution, independent yet attached, with the understanding that different, more ad-hoc and agile laws apply. Nonconformist and at the same time authorized, and following spatial theories such as Michel Foucault’s ‘heterotopia’, a project space is a typology that is neither here nor there. Shadowing Robert Smithson’s concept of the ‘non-site’ (an indoor artwork physically and mentally paired with an outdoor site), the Laboratorio 987 space has been assigned a relation with a specific remote location for the 2011 season: Amikejo.
Amikejo was an anomalous in-between state which never entirely existed, and was founded on a desire to foster more effective international communication through the synthetic language Esperanto. Following treaties of the early 19th Century, a tiny 3½ km2 wedge of land between the Netherlands, Belgium and Prussia was established as a neutral area because of an important zinc mine. In 1908 the 2,500 identity-less citizens of Neutral Moresnet, as it was known, declared it to be the world’s first Esperanto state: Amikejo (‘place of great friendship’ in Esperanto). A national anthem was constituted and stamps and a flag were designed. Yet in the wake of the first World War, Germany relinquished its claim to the disputed territory, and Amikejo-Moresnet disappeared from the map as it became part of Belgium, although border markers still exist to this day.
This episode-place, and ultimately, failure, was a unique synthesis of cartography, language, nationhood, politics, economics and subjectivity, and is entreated as a twin site to Laboratorio 987 by lending its name and conceptual borders to the exhibition series. This association not only implicates the spatial functions of the ‘neutral’ spaces of art – how they endorse otherwise unremarkable things with a ‘special’ status – yet also establishes a similitude with the desire to institute a shared and effective means of communication, between participants and with the world.
Documentation Archive: www.lttds.org/projects/amikejo/archive/
YouTube videos: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F4473EA529B8388&feat...