Within Madrid´s plethora of museums and famous landmarks, some of the more accessible can go overlooked, such is the case for the ´Espacio Fundacion Telefonica´.
Hiding in plain sight in Calle Fuencarral, a stone throw from Gran Via metro, ´Espacio´ routinely offers a wide cultural offering and top exhibitions for no cost.
When I visited at the beginning of September, this was no exception. Up first was the eye opening Lightscapes exhibition from environmental activist and artist Joanie Lemercier in what was his first significant solo exhibition. Joanie immerses the visitor into a world of digitally created landscapes, using a series of digital and hand drawn effects. However, what was most striking is his very real work on The Hambach Forest and Slow Violence, forcing the viewer to confront one of the most devastating environmental tragedies at the heart of Europe.
At a time when Europe professes to be more conscious than ever of our environmental impact whilst simultaneously growing increasingly concerned about the cost and security of energy supplies, Joanie´s works moves the trade-offs of environmental impacts from the theoretical space to right in front of the viewer’s eyes.
His drone soars above the sky to reveal the colossal erasure of one of Europe´s most ancient forests, destroyed for a surface mine and now where only ten percent remains. His filming of Baggers (which can move 218,880 tonnes of soil per day) going about their chillingly methodical churn is horrifying in its relentlessness and in the barren landscape that is left in their wake.
On the lighter side of the Espacio experience is Colour. As expected, it offers a stimulating visual experience suitable for all, taking us from the 17th century until the present day but there are some hidden gems among the exhibit too, such as an early edition of Newton´s seminal work ´Opticks´. Throughout the exhibit, we see how the modern era has used and brought moments to life in a way that those of us used to the saturation of images could struggle to appreciate, such as the explosion in the popularity of cinema and sports thanks to the introduction of colour. The triumphs of Seve Bellesteros and Spain´s World Cup triumphs can be appreciated anew inside the exhibit, offering a history of the technological and commercial exploitation of colour as much as an examination of colours themselves.
Perhaps most timely of all, with the commercial and critical success of Peter Jackson´s First World War They Shall Not Grow Old, is an in depth examination of the re-colourisation process of old footage and film. By showing us the process and potential use, it is hopefully something that will inspire many to breathe new life into old footage of our pasts and draw us closer to those who have gone before us.
Madrid is awash with cultural offerings and exhibits but places such as Espacio Fundacion Telefonica play a vital role in ensuring that art and culture is open to all who wish to explore it.
´Colour´ is available to visit for free at Espacio Telefonica Madrid until 10th January 2022