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Cristina de Middel explores the relationship between photography and reality from a critical and ironic point of view at sample 'Pseudología fantástica' at MUN

The award National Photography 2017 presents its project made for the program Tender Bridges, baptized 'Aleatoris Vulgaris', and the series 'Man Jayen', 'Cucurrucucucú', 'Afronautas' and 'Party'.

FotoRaquelArilla/Cristina de Middel next to one of the pieces of the Aleatoris Vulgaris series, at the MUN.

14 | 10 | 2021

The universe of the artist Cristina de Middel (Alicante, 1975) unfolds from this Thursday at the University of Navarra Museum with Fantastic Pseudology, a exhibition in which she explores the ambiguous relationship between reality and image and suggests us to apply a critical look at the way reality is told to us. The artist, winner of award National Photography 2017, presents her new work, result of the project Tender Bridges of the Museum, baptized. Aleatoris Vulgaristhe project of artistic creation Man Jayen, exhibited at the Museum in 2015, and the series Cucurrucucú, Party y Afronauts.

As the artist explained, the exhibition, which can be visited until March 6, takes its name from a psychological disorder in which some people experience as their own things they have seen or have been told, and feel an uncontrollable urge to tell fantasized stories that they end up believing. This phenomenon connects with his work because "it serves me very well to explain how I use the photographic file to make his materials my own and offer totally different versions that have nothing to do with the intention with which they were created".

At presentation she was accompanied by Valentín Vallhonrat, director artistic of the Museum together with Rafael Levenfeld, who recalled that the relationship with the artist begins with the beginnings of the Museum. "She is a very rigorous artist who exercises a relentless criticism. She sample us the contradictions in which we fall, how we tell ourselves, how we organize the stories about our existence. And to unveil it she applies a classic, irony, sense of humor, beauty... It is much easier to approach the drama this way than with solemnity. That is why he proposes a playful experience, although it is a rigorous and serious work ", Vallhornat pointed out. He also pointed out that "in its strategy of work, the concept of file is fundamental". This starting point is core topic for the works on display at conference room 0 on floor 0 of the Museum. 

One of these works, made specifically for the Museum from the research of its photography collection, is Aleatoris Vulgaris. "I felt like stepping out of the meaning associated with each image and moving from the two-dimensional to the process. I was struck by how well organized the Museum's collection is and to project an irreverent look on that content, I needed to break the order of file. So I proposed ten random number generators and began to investigate the impossibility of randomness, an exciting topic , because it always obeys a cause". Thus, he obtained numbers in many different ways, such as asking passers-by in Mozambique, interviewing a guru in India, throwing knives at bingo cards or with fortune cookies, among others. The numbers correspond to five images from file, with which he works visually, through collage and drawing.

Another proposal is Cucurrucucucuwhich draws from the photographic file of the Mexican newspaper of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Alert!In this series I distill the immediacy offered by photography, leaving the same information through drawing. When you see a crime in first person, it generates a trauma, a very hard emotional response that can mark you for the rest of your life. If you see a photo, it generates a response but much more diluted, and if you make a drawing, although the information is the same, your response is much milder and, by including rancheras and Mexican corridos, you can end up seeing the photos and humming," the author explains.

Complete the sample at conference room, Jan Mayena project that is based on documentary material that the Archive of Modern Conflict in London kept about the expedition that a group of wealthy adventurers undertook in 1911 to rediscover the island of Jan Mayen. When they failed to reach the island, they decided to record the feat in another location with financial aid of a cinematograph. Starting from this story, the artist creates "a staging of the staging", a sort of fake news, a proposal, like all of the artist's, arranged like a mille-feuille in which the viewer can delve layer by layer.

De Middel, with training in Fine Arts and dedicated for a decade to photojournalism, began her artistic degree program with Afronauts in 2012. "It was born out of the frustration I felt on my first trip to Africa. The images that come to us, which are usually ethnic and costumbrist, do not fit with the reality you find when you arrive. I felt very much manager as a photographer because, despite the fact that photography has documented this continent countless times, it had not managed to explain what it is like. I propose to understand why that happens and to understand how prejudices and stereotypes can affect specific continents". 

This series has its origins in a failed space program that was launched in Zambia in 1964. The author takes this anecdote as a structure to "take stereotypes, which I recognize in myself, to the extreme and document them. And I do it with the strategy I always use, that of the Trojan horse: introduce something very nice that invites you to approach and, when you open the door, you discover a much harsher criticism".

The work shares exhibition space in the conference room Tower with Partywhich was conceived during a trip of the artist to China, where she lived for six months. The proposal starts from Mao's Red Book and articulates a presentation about the country through censorship. "I transformed the texts that were meant to be the basis for the thinking of the good Chinese citizen into a kind of humorous and ironic poems that, for me, serve much better to navigate today's Chinese society."

PRESS SITE: "Fantastic pseudology" Cristina de Middel.