Madragoa, Lisbon

“Mar cerrado”

For ART-O-RAMA 2017, Lisbon-based gallery Madragoa presents a solo project by Adrián Balseca (lives and works in Quito, Ecuador) entitled “Mar cerrado”.

Balseca’s work aims to activate strategies of representation, narration, and/or interaction in order to highlight cultural specificities of a particular place. It explores the relationship and tensions between industrial and craft practices, revealing a fascination with the historic processes, and the configuration of materials involved in the production of manufactured goods. His work often involves transforming the composition of daily objects or certain civil laws into other material forms, or legal experiences. These projects — from small interventions to large-scale ‘site specific’ actions or video documentations — elaborate on ideas of emerging economies, nature, power, and social memory.

“Mar cerrado”, (Mare clausum Spanish/Latin) is an art project composed by an object and an action/happening — both referential to the history of the Pacific Ocean. The piece — proposed as a requiem arranged on the sea — commemorates Ecuador’s territorial waters’ environmental damages and catastrophes, caused by the constant exploitation of oil throughout the country’s history (1911-2015).

“Mar cerrado” questions the symbolical, cultural and political role that monuments in Ecuador play — if the ones built in the past have consolidated the country’s modern values of nation-and-state — and whether the ones built today model the country’s present “Economic Horizon”, which is based on a nonrenewable resource as oil. The project looks to assign a higher level of complexity to Ecuador’s patriotic symbols, as well as to comment on the construction of patriotism around monuments in Ecuador.

Making use of the caduceus — a symbol that in Ecuador’s coat of arms can be found standing on the first vapor-ship built in south america — “Mar cerrado” presents a sea-buoy-monument of the same symbol, placed on the exact spot in the ocean where oil was rst spilled under jurisdiction of the Ecuadorean government.