LOGBOOK (INVITATIONS AND JOURNEYS) Katinka Bock (Frankfurt am Main) visited the spaces of the Museum for the first time last February 2020, arriving in Vitoria-Gasteiz on a flight from Hannover. The borders were closed for months only a few days later. As well as the doors of the Museum. This trip was followed by months of uncertainty and uninterrupted conversations. A description of the exhibition spaces recently shared with Louis Lüthi, the graphic designer working with the artist on this …
LOGBOOK (INVITATIONS AND JOURNEYS)
Katinka Bock (Frankfurt am Main) visited the spaces of the Museum for the first time last February 2020, arriving in Vitoria-Gasteiz on a flight from Hannover. The borders were closed for months only a few days later. As well as the doors of the Museum.
This trip was followed by months of uncertainty and uninterrupted conversations. A description of the exhibition spaces recently shared with Louis Lüthi, the graphic designer working with the artist on this project, emerged from that initial meeting: “It is a strange and anonymous space in the basement with no views outside (…) A suspended space like a ship on the ocean (…) The exhibition space is considered like the belly of a whale or a ship.”
Bock’s second visit to the Basque Country took place when the borders reopened in July. On this occasion, it was to do with her participation as a visiting professor in the JAI Study Programme, a school launched by the Museum in collaboration with CICC Tabakalera in San Sebastian. It was also during that summer that she sent us a score written during those days entitled Logbook, which is also the score for the protocol production of the piece Possible Confusions. For this work, a local blacksmith and tailor worked on producing half of a trouser, half of a dress and copper (shoe, spoon, helmet) based on their interpretation of the text. The other “halves” of the piece were produced in Paris and all can be found and are presented as a unit in their display at the exhibition.
ALBAOLA (THE SEA FACTORY OF THE BASQUES)
During this second summer trip, Bock had the chance to visit Albaola the Sea Factory of the Basques as part of an outing organised within the framework of JAI. This centre, located in Pasajes San Pedro, has recovered the ways of doing “artisan maritime technology,” disseminating Basque maritime history and operating as a carpentry school.
Sharing her interest in this project with others involved in this exhibition process, the artist describes that: “Historically, the forests of Sakana have been the source of wood for shipyards. Oak forests were planted and pruned in order to get straight trees for making planks, and curved trees to make the structure to ensure the best quality in the construction of a ship (…).”
In Albaola, Bock also came across the figure and legacy of Selma Huxley (London, 1927 – Chichester, 2020), an English historian who in the 1970s moved to Oñati from Canada with her four children to conduct further research on Basque whalers in Newfoundland. Huxley’s investigations were crucial to finding the remains of the San Juan whaling ship that ran aground in Red Bay in 1565, whose reconstruction is being carried out at Pasaia.
Huxley, who in addition to her last name shares a family tree with the versatile writer, and the carrack San Juan focused a good part of the subsequent exchanges between the Museum, collaborators and the artist, imagining –at that time only as a possibility– the production of a new piece with the students of the boatbuilding school, carved from a wooden rib similar to those used in the construction of their boats.
This was the aim of the artist’s third trip in January 2021, to begin the production of this work that abounds in the analogies displayed between the interior of a cetacean and an underground museum space: “In the Moby-Dick chapter ‘Cutting In’, the body of the whale is spinning, the skin is cut like an orange, pulleys balance two unequal weights, between the beast and the boat. To curve, to cut, to constrain and to force are actions of shipbuilding and social corrections. The show Logbook approaches mutilated and constrained bodies, shapes of division and canalised energies.”
Meanwhile in Paris, the city where Bock’s studio is located, Selma was waiting, a bust with the name of the historian produced in ceramic by the artist to be deposited in the Albaola space to function as a connector between the Museum and the Sea Factory school during the months of the exhibition.
Huxley passed away just a few weeks before Katinka Bock’s second visit to the Basque Country, on 4 May 2020, at the age of 93.
During her first trip in February 2020, Bock took a photograph of an orchid that was sitting on one of the desks at the Museum, an image that she sent to us during the lockdown period. The orchid lost all its flowers months later. Today it has blossomed again and we have sent her a new image of it.
Since then, the underground space described by the artist has also been modified and it is possible to observe the exterior from the rooms occupied by her works through the large circular windows that had previously been blocked.
These are not the only new holes and gaps in space. As in the aforementioned chapter of Herman Melville’s book, a series of dismemberments has been made in the form of openings in the walls of the exhibition rooms and they have partially revealed the interior wooden ribs and their construction system.
Logbook describes a museum as the belly of a whale (from which everything is used), in which Moby Dick, Selma Huxley, helmets, curved bones, spoons, prostheses, shoes, fish and orchids in flower
are crowded, along with 2,500 works of art of its Collection that are stored in the space adjoining the one housing the Bock exhibition.
(Text by Beatriz Herráez for the booklet Logbook)
Katinka Bock studied at the Kunsthochschule in Berlin and École Nationale des Beaux Arts in Lyon. She was artist in residence at the Villa Medici in Rome and received the Dorothea von Stetten Kunstpreis in Germany and Prix Ricard in France. She has staged solo exhibitions at, among others, Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal; Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and Nuremberg Kunstverein, Germany; MAMCO, Geneva and Kunstmuseum Lucerne, Switzerland; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, USA; Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada, and Common Guild, Glasgow, Scotland. In 2018, she presented her exhibition trilogy project Tomorrow’s sculpture at Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Mudam Luxemburg, Luxembourg, and Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne, France. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Pivo, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Lafayette Anticipation, Paris, France, and Kestnergesellschaft Hannover, Germany.
In collaboration with The Sea Factory of the Basques Albaola
Curator: Beatriz Herráez