More than two decades ago, in the year 2000, Jimena Blázquez (Cádiz, 1974) launched a most groundbreaking personal project for the time: the Fundación Montenmedio Contemporánea; an open-air museum, located in an old military camp owned by her father, in the Cadiz town of Vejer de la Frontera. According to him, the idea of undertaking this project arose while he was in Paris, where he had a stable job but felt that he was too young to be pigeonholed. Added to this is the concern he felt to want to understand what the artists of his generation were doing. “What he wanted was to get involved with them and support them,” he notes. She knew that she could not compete with the big institutions, but, aware of the richness and potential of the meadow in which the museum is located, she was convinced that she could offer artists the possibility of leaving the ‘white cube’ and working otherwise, thus helping them in the development of their career.
Among the creators who have passed through the Dehesa, many of them little known at the time but with great confidence in Blázquez, names such as Olafur Eliasson, Santiago Sierra, James Turrell or Marina Abramovic, who, moreover, was the first to go to the place of face-to-face manner. Jimena has indeed woven a special story with all the artists who have passed through the museum, but with Abramovic the connection went far beyond her, considering her part of her family to the point of being the godmother of the son of her.
“We invite artists to do site-specific projects, that is, specific to the place where they are going to be located, so I cannot produce the project in Berlin or Düsseldorf; they must be produced in situ, involving the people of the area. When I invited Olafur Eliasson, he was not as well known as he is now. The same with Marina Abramovic, who came when she had just separated and was going through a period of silence in the art world”, concedes Blázquez. “What we do is bring them when I think I can help them and be useful to them. And, on the other hand, they give me a different vision of everything that surrounds us: immigration, the crossing of cultures, the two continents that meet, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean. And that’s the interesting thing, what I wanted to do. Engage in that dialogue and that they, in turn, offered me a different reading of the context in which we are installed”.
Another the famous artist present at the museum, James Turrell –architect of light–, has a unique experience activity within the foundation: a light sequence that forms part of his work Second Wind 2005. “We are on the Costa de la Luz, and from the beginning, I wanted to invite you. However, it was a challenge for me; because I knew that making a skyspace with it is a long and very complex process. I decided to write to him and he introduced us to this project, Second Wind, which in English refers to new times, to another moment […]. In the Foundation you can see 14 meters of the truncated pyramid where, when entering the hill, the four elements are found –air, fire, water, and earth–; everyone involved,” he recalls. “The most important thing for James is that, in those moments of sunrise and sunset, when day meets night and night meets day, you have an experience with a whole system and study of lights that he has achieved, which makes it very unique,” he adds.
On the occasion of the Foundation’s twenty-second anniversary, Blázquez published this same year –which she has also been awarded the National Collecting Prize, awarded by the ARCO Foundation– Nature as an atelier (SIRUELA), a book that is shown as a tribute to the museum’s more than two decades, with a tour of some of its most emblematic site-specific works –a pioneering concept when it was founded–. All of them, were signed by the most relevant international artists, who wanted to leave their mark on the Andalusian Dehesa where the art-nature binomial has always been the core of their reason for being. “What the book comes to say is the importance of nature throughout the history of art, and throughout the first artistic manifestations; and how nature has been a source of inspiration but also a support to create works”.
About the great changes that are reformulating the world of art, mainly around its digitization, Jimena Blázquez does not feel worried. “For me, the question is another. I am interested in going further. I think that what is important about contemporary art is to understand how it questions the moment and the society in which we live. Whether he later does it in NFT, in sculpture, or whatever, is indifferent to me. Not so the intensity and the issues it addresses to cast a critical look at the moment we are going through; the dynamics and the artistic creation, the impact it has or what it makes you feel”, she sentences.
“In the foundation –he continues– we would be called more classically, so to speak. A kind of garden or forest of sculptures, where we have not renounced doing photography, video, ephemeral sculpture, or performance projects. If an artist wants to do it in NFT in a way that I think we can support, we will also do it”, confesses Blázquez. “It is that now there is an NFT fashion as if it were the goose that lays the golden eggs. The NFT is a medium. They’ve been around for a long time, but I don’t think we’re going there. Artists will have to see what mediums they use. There was a time when you went to a fair and everything was videos, and now, there are no videos. Now we only talk about NFTs. Well, we’ll see how long it lasts .”