SERENDIPITY or the art of reading the signs

14 Sep - 20 Dec 2019

Rosa Barba | Cecilia Bengolea | Carolina Caycedo | Luísa Cunha | María Angélica Medina | Adrien Missika | Felipe Ribon | telepathically present Zak Kyes


Curated by María Inés Rodríguez


This exhibition stands at an x-mark of a story, at the intersection of many pathways where, borrowing the idea of serendipity, coincides a group of artists with whom I’ve shared thoughts, projects, conversations and moments of life in recent years.


The term “serendipity” is a neologism and was first coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 in his book The Travels and Adventures of the Three Princes of Serendip. The book, the translation of an old Persian tale first published in England in 1722, tells the story of the three sons of Jafer, the king-philosopher of Serendip (the Persian-arabic name for Sri Lanka). The king, wanting to broaden the education of his children, sends the princes off on a journey to complete their studies, live new experiences and get acquainted with the traditions and customs of other people. This journey is the starting point for a series of adventures, during which the princes’ wisdom and powers of observation allow them to attain significant knowledge.


Different versions of the tale have travelled between India and the Middle-East before arriving in Europe, where it achieved great success. The tale was translated into Italian and German in the XVI century, and French, English, Danish and Dutch in the XVIII century. The first version was published by Michele Tramezzino in Venice in 1557, after he heard it recounted by Cristoforo Armeno, who had translated the tale from the Persian in an adaptation of Book One of Hasht-Bihisht, a collection of poems by Amir Khusrau published in 1302.


Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Depending on where we stand and on how we read and interpret the signs and clues that come upon us, we may shift these steps one way or another. In that construction process, we are often challenged with negotiations and decisions which bear on the complexity of the social, political, economic, cultural and ecological context we live in. The different modes and meanings that life acquires, in both the subjective realm and the collective experience have an impact in the “life” and future of our planet, thus in our own future. Art regularly examines this future by questioning us and rendering visible different possibilities for action, or inaction, which allow us to understand and to question our part in this process and the path we have taken.


As the tale of the three princes of Serendip – which I invite you to read –, this exhibition traces the clues and signs laid out by a group of artists. Through photography, sculpture, drawing, film and installation they display common interests which conjure resistance movements, social representation, research processes and networks of solidarity in the contemporary world.


This exhibition is dedicated to the women and the men who defend the rivers, the seas and the oceans, meeting point for all the artists present in this exhibition.


MIR, September 2019