REVIEWED: The FUNDACIÓN ONCE 5th Biennial of Contemporary Art

By Martin Macdonald

FUNDACIÓN ONCE, whose mission is to improve the lives of people with disabilities, presents the foundation's 5th Biennial of Contemporary Art in Madrid, Spain from 20 May - 14 September.
Held on the fourth floor of Madrid's CentroCentro Cibeles, the exhibition showcases the work of over forty artists who have some kind of disability or draw inspiration from disabilites. Off-site programmes include film, theatre and dance, as well as a series of workshops and conferences, several of which focus on social inclusion and diversity.   

The biennial's current edition explores the human body - bodies stigmatised by ethnic criteria, disabilities, gender, sexuality, mental illness, and so on. As such, the show attempts to serve as a call for social inclusion and tolerance of people's differences.

Although the biennial brings together many good works, it is somewhat problematic in that the selection criteria is not tight enough. This comes down to the fact that disability is such a broad subject.

However, Marina Vargas's Y la palabra se hizo carne (And word became flesh) (2012), an installation of resin hands, which references sign language, is in the spirit of the biennial. Daniel Canogar's Caudal (Flow) (2011), a work comprising flowing water, toilet bowls, sinks and bathtubs with projected images of people 'swimming' is deeply enthralling. The piece brilliantly reflects upon the idea of 'sink or swim', and, as the little people are washed down the drains, their emotional despair becomes as clear as water itself.

In contrast, referencing Michelangelo Buonarroti's Pietà (1498–1499), Marina Abramovic's photograph, Pietà (1993), features a red-dressed Abramovic in the role of Mary holding a man in white garments in the role of Jesus after the Crucifixion. Despite this work's intrinsic merits, it and a few others simply appear to help fill the space and at the same time weaken what could have been a more focused and thought-provoking event.

Participating artists include: Ángel Baltasar, Javier Campano, Daniel y José María Cano, José Manuel Egea, Carlos Franco, Cristina García Rodero, Miriam Jiménez, Ramón Losa, Eduardo Matute (DUDU), Víctor Meliveo, Paloma Navares, Carme Ollé i Coderch, Luis Pérez-Mínguez, Ricardo Rocío, Ricardo Rojas, Ángel Rojo, Rafael Sanz Lobato, Cuco Suárez, Vicens Talens, Juan Torre, Kurt Weston, Marina Abramovic, Carlos Aires, Miquel Barcelo, Daniel Canogar, Pedro Castrortega, Angélica Dass, Esther Ferrer, Daniel Firman, Jorge Fuembuena, Germán Gómez, Kaarina Kaikkonen, Francisco Leiro, Isabel Muñoz, Juan Muñoz, Jaume Plensa, Bernardí Roig, Belen Serrano y Marina Vargas.

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