Peak of Eternal Light
Barakat Seoul is proudly presenting Peak of Eternal Light, a solo exhibition by the Spanish artist Jorge Mañes Rubio (b.1984).
Jorge Mañes Rubio considers from an ethnographic point of view themes of vanishing civilization and shamanism, forgotten places and stories of the past, all of which are given a new meaning through his work. His experiments transcend the boundaries of art, in conjunction with offering alternative perspectives on politics, society and the environment.
Peak of Eternal Light focuses on traces of ancient forgotten civilizations reimagined, repositioned and revived by modern society through envisioning the moon as an alternative landmark of the future. From the ancient civilizations wove around the moon to scientific lunar explorations, space has long been the subject of intense observation by humankind. The development of space resources, continuing since the U.S. and Soviet Union kicked off the space race launching spaceships to the moon in the late 1950s, has often been seen both as a historic human achievement in science and technology and as a profitable discovery in terms of space tourism and natural resources.
Jorge Mañes Rubio, who joined the art residency program of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2016, envisions the future civilization for a human settlement on the moon. Using as starting point an imagined narrative involving the creation of a new civilization to settle on the moon, the exhibition unfolds around Shackleton Crater, which lies at the south pole of the moon and its peaks are known for receiving an almost continual exposure to sunlight. In this attempt to create a new human civilization on a lunar settlement, the artist realizes the utopic universal desire of venturing beyond earth into the endless expanse of space.
Civilizations emerge in the process of mankind facing its own weakness in the vast sprawl of the world and trying to surmount its fear, as journeys into the unfamiliar bring along the apprehension of unknown worlds. In pondering over the question what kind of culture the future lunar settlers will have, one harks back ironically to the cultural heritage of the past – once splendid, but now destined to the faded pages of history. The artist’s perspective in finding the basis for cultivating a lunar civilization in ancient societies is both a process of anthropological exploration into the origins of human existence and an opportunity to underscore how unmeasurably small humans are within the infinity of space.
Barakat Seoul has been endeavoring to extend the boundaries of art by connecting the aesthetics of ancient art to the foundations of the past as understood by contemporary art. Peak of Eternal Light along those lines may also be seen as a journey: retracing the civilizations created by the communities of the past and inquiring into the origins of human existence, while looking ahead to the future within the perpetuity of time and space.
Jorge Mañes Rubio (Madrid, 1984) majored in product design at the Royal College of Art, London. He has extensively collaborated with museums, galleries and art centers around the world including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea, Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Design Museum in London, UK. In 2015 he was awarded the S&R Foundation Washington Award and in 2018 he got the prestigious TED Senior Fellowship. Rubio often gives lectures as a guest speaker for various international academic associations. In 2016, Jorge joined the art residency program of the European Space Agency (ESA), thus inspired to idealize the creation of a new human civilization on a lunar settlement.
As one of the artists of the Changdong Residency run by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, Jorge created On Distant Objects and Hungry Gods, a vibrant exhibition through which he traced a decisive parallelism between Korean shamanism and his mystical and ethnographical approach to contemporary art. In the video work Street Food Lighting, he focused on desolate night streets and artificial lights of the street vendors, alleys and ruined places in Netherland, Spain, China, and Korea. Ambivalence of city had become a stage for Jorge that he wanted to look into the space between two aspects, and to create a new level of city culture.
Buona Fortuna (2013 ― 2015) is a photographing project documenting a series of churches and cathedrals in southern Italy, which have been ruined and remained abandoned since the 1980 earthquake. Jorge registered the abandoned altars, religious ruined artifacts, sculptures and frescoes, and through his project, gave them a new life through a new perspective. By virtue of this project, he sought to discover the tragic, sublime and surreal nature of the locations and the monuments, the “beauty among the ruins”. Another project, Mission: Utopia (2015), was conducted as part of the artist residence program at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Jorge collaborated with the local Ube Industries Ltd., and created a virtual narrative for the project. The artist invented the fictional figure of Akitoshi Fujiyama and narrates his story, during which the main character of Akitoshi dreams of exploring the moon after he accidentally comes across a meteorite at a local golf course. Through this project, the artist reminds and brings to light a minority of universal history, hidden in the gigantic narrative of space exploration as a national project, challenging the universal human beliefs.
Through his projects, Jorge Mañes Rubio focuses on forgotten places, old objects and stories of the past, integrating them with diverse fields such as religious beliefs, films and literature, as to create a narrative between historical facts and fiction. He constantly suggests alternate perspectives that appreciate the world around humanity and see new things
and phenomena almost at the boundary between reality and imagination.