In 1989 Eugènia Balcells made this video installation for the Sala Montcada at Fundación ”la Caixa”. It began as a reflection on personal and collective memory in the face of the renewal and transformation that Barcelona was undergoing in preparation for the Olympic Games. Among the sand and rocks on the beach where the Olympic Village was built, she discovered all kinds of remains of buildings from the city’s relatively recent history that had been constantly eroded by the action of the sea. Worn, rounded pieces of brick walls, fragments of mosaics and tiles from inside houses, scraps of road surfaces, fragments of marble, stone columns, capitals and pedestals—all these remains revealed a very recent past and a landscape that suggested to the artist a vision of the ruins we ourselves will one day leave behind. She decided to salvage this memory of the city by exhibiting the fragments she had found in the installation Exposure Time, which she conceived as a huge diorama including images and sound. At the back of the room, on a circular opening with a video screen, images of light and water are projected. The images are transformed in successive time cycles, which go from total darkness to bright light and affect the lighting of the scene. As the lights gradually come on and go off, the vision appears and disappears in a way that evokes the opening and closing of one’s eyes, or the transition from day to night, or from life to death. Along with the light cycles, the intervals of sound and silence play a vital role. Peter Van Riper’s musical composition combines recordings of the city and the sea with synthesised sound textures. Beneath the hubbub of the city, we hear the presence of the sea, which is perceived as a deep breathing. In this piece the sea becomes a symbol of the origin and the perpetual destruction and recreation of the world. The destructive process is also shown in video recordings, which can be seen on two monitors in openings at the entrance to the diorama. Shots of the buildings in the Olympic Village area collapsing are superimposed on images of waves that gradually wear away the found materials. The overall effect is to evoke the city as a permanently changing stage.
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