The exhibition “Places of our own” can now be visited at the Pérez Siquier Museum

The exhibition is part of the Dialogues Pérez Siquier programme.

As part of its cultural and exhibition activities, the Pérez Siquier Centre closed the year 2023 with a new temporary exhibition: “Own Places”, by the Murcian photographer Mar Sáez. A proposal, curated by Sema D’Acosta and produced by the Ibáñez Cosentino Art Foundation with the collaboration of the Provincial Council of Almeria, which was inaugurated last Saturday, 30 December, at 12:00 noon, with the assistance of the photographer and the curator of the exhibition, who will explain the content of the exhibition to those present.

This new exhibition is part of the “Diálogos Pérez Siquier” cycle. A project that began at the end of 2022 and will continue until mid-2024, for which the curator, Sema D’Acosta, has selected four renowned photographers: Txema Salvans (Barcelona, 1971), María Moldes (Pontevedra, 1974), Mar Sáez (Murcia, 1983) and Ricardo Cases (Orihuela, Alicante 1971). All of them photographers related to or born in the Levante area and connected to the Mediterranean Sea.

As the curator of the project indicates, “in some way, the projects chosen are close to the spirit, landscape and light of Almería, the fundamental axis of the life and work of Carlos Pérez Siquier. A photographer whose career could be understood as an extremely honest visual chronicle of southern Spain; a story about the gaze that tells us about people and places through commitment and a humble, unpretentious truth. Implicitly, his series are a tribute to the people and places of his native province. Carlos Pérez Siquier’s characteristic style is inseparable from the place where he has lived and developed his career”.

A series of exhibitions that aims to build bridges between the Pérez Siquier Centre and mid-career Spanish photographers, underlining the fundamental importance of the language of a pioneer like Pérez Siquier among the most current generations, the exhibition rooms in Olula del Río previously hosted the work of Txema Salvans and Ricardo Cases.

The exhibition: ‘Mar Sáez: Own Places’.

As the third exhibition in the “Diálogos Pérez Siquier” cycle, an essential part of the series “Lugares propios” by Mar Sáez (Murcia, 1983) is presented. A project carried out between 2018 and 2022 in Lo Pagán, a coastal town on the Mar Menor where the photographer spent her childhood and adolescence, and which today Sáez approaches with a critical eye close to the biting and ironic approach of Pérez Siquier’s “La Playa” series.

As the curator of the exhibition points out, “every summer since she was a child, Mar Sáez was surprised to meet people who came to try its curative waters and mud to relieve pain, arthrosis and skin problems. Over time, that idyllic landscape of her memory has become a place sickened by excessive pollution and unbridled tourism, an extreme situation that in the last decade has provoked an ecological and social crisis. This work is a return to childhood from the bitter adult awareness of the decline of the Mar Menor. A return to the territory where he grew up to observe its deterioration with a certain nostalgia, missing a past that will no longer return but that now serves him to reflect from his own biography on the abandonment that the Mediterranean coast has suffered”.

The exhibition ‘Own Places’ by the photographer Mar Sáez can be visited, completely free of charge, until 4 February 2024, during the usual opening hours of the Museo Ibáñez and the Pérez Siquier Centre: Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 14:00 in the morning and from 17:00 to 20:00 in the afternoon, and on Sundays, from 11:00 to 14:00.

Mar Sáez on the project ‘Own Places’.

“I was born in the 1980s in a coastal town in the Region of Murcia called Lo Pagán. My childhood and adolescence were spent between baths and mud in the Mar Menor. I remember diving surrounded by fish, cockles and the occasional seahorse. Every summer it was a ritual. I also visualise my municipality as a pole of attraction for tourists (I was always surprised that they had come to this precise point on the map) with joint diseases or looking for the therapeutic power that our curious “natural pool” of volcanic origin and high salt concentration promised.

The Mar Menor is the largest salt lagoon in Europe. A natural treasure that, over the years, has deteriorated. A sea sickened by excessive pollution and uncontrolled urban development. A sea with clear signs of decadence as a result of the excess of nutrients in the water (eutrophication) that have caused an inevitable ecological and social crisis in this territory.

It is a return to the memory of my childhood from the bitter adult awareness of the decline of the Mar Menor. A return to the territory where I grew up to observe its woundedness, looking into the nostalgic eyes of holidaymakers who long to embrace the warm customs of the past, surrounded by a living landscape that is diluted in their memory. Visitors (fewer and fewer) and locals continue to apply these muds, although now in a different way. These people put these “muds” on their bodies with unease and mistrust. The contamination they observe is disconcerting and raises doubts about the preservation of its therapeutic properties or its possible harmful effects.

Fortunately, the future of the Mar Menor now looks brighter. Thanks to a Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP), the Senate approved on 21 September 2022 a new law that makes the lagoon the first ecosystem in Europe with its own legal personality. This marks an environmental milestone and a paradigm shift in the protection of ecosystems. Giving it its own rights allows for governance and protection independent of economic and political interests.

It will not be possible to recover the tons of fish that died of anoxia in sea pools without oxygen during these years, nor the marine ecosystem that I knew decades ago. Nor will it be possible to forget the x-ray of the ecological collapse that could have been avoided. The future is uncertain, but at least it offers a new horizon for the conservation and recovery of the Mar Menor, one of our great treasures that I trust can finally be cared for and respected as it deserves, with rights equivalent to those of any person”.

 

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