Fernando Garcia-Dory: A Dairy Museum

Article excerpt

Mostyn Llandudno 22 September to 6 January

'Awareness raising', that pursuit of campaigners, activists and educators, is an endless task. In the 1970s, Yugoslavian-born artist Radovan Kraguly began addressing what he saw as humankind's alienation from the natural environment. Using the figure of the cow as an overarching symbol for the animals with which we regularly interact (via their milk, skin and so on) but largely ignore, he embarked on a decades-long series of drawings, paintings and sculptures that sought to redress that balance. Figurative images of cattle resting beside obtrusive, angular constructions gave way to later, more abstract black-and-white canvases, some of them bearing the recognisable patched markings of Holstein dairy cows. At some point in the 1990s, Kraguly began work on a 'National Dairy Museum', a cultural institution dedicated to 'art in the rural space'; it would have a library, offices, cafeteria and lecture rooms, with entrances for both humans and animals--cows would spend a day there and visitors could learn how to milk by hand.

We learn this through an interview with Kraguly in the video Re-enacted piece #2, all works 2012, as part of Spanish self-described 'artist, activist and agroecologist' Fernando Garcia-Dory's 'A Dairy Museum'. The exhibition takes Kraguly's work as a jumping-off point for a set of four so-called 're-enacted pieces', which are more like translations, modifications and updatings. Garcia-Dory's work, similarly to Kraguly's, addresses our relationship with the rural, but his approach to the same issues is decidedly different. His work has in the past involved the establishment of a shepherd school in the Pyrenees and a conference of nomadic peoples that led to the establishment of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Pastoralists (WAMIP). Often mediating between commercial, governmental and cultural fields, you could see Garcia-Dory as similar to the 'incidental person' free agent put forward by the Artist Placement Group in the UK but, rather than formatting and inserting himself into a larger bureaucracy, instigating his own systems, connections and new forms of dispersed management. Here at Mostyn, his strategy is more of a post-conceptual game, with texts and actions that follow in Kraguly's footsteps in their own wayward fashion. In Re-enacted piece #1, Garcia-Dory recreates a lost drawing, a study for a sculptural installation from 1997 which only exists as an image in a catalogue of Kraguly's work. …