Arts Of The Working Class Logo

ARTIST PROFILE: IRENE DE ANDRÉS

  • Jun 21 2022
  • Daniela Labra
    is a curator, cultural critic and educator. She is a founder of the art studies platform Zait.art, and lives between Berlin and Rio de Janeiro.

Born in Ibiza, one of Europe's most popular summer and party destinations, the artist creates work with a nostalgic and critical atmosphere, which investigates a particular aesthetic of the political and capitalist co-optation of the experience of mass leisure and laziness. In 2011-16, de Andrés worked on the project Donde Nada Ocurre (Where Nothing Happens), [1] about five abandoned nightclubs on the island, which act as signifiers of the massive tourist flows that leave ghosts behind every summer.

More recently, Irene de Andrés developed the project Mordi I Fuggi/Muerde y Huye (Bite and Run), after a year-long residency at the Academia de España en Roma, Italy. She explores analogies between tourism and colonization, investigating the ideological use, whether populist or capitalist, of artificial paradises that are constructed as holiday destinations. Her work deals with a mix of historical account, documentation, and contemporary cultural elements, including subjects such as commercial cruises and the social side of entertainment tourism. She explained that "in the 18th century, the sea became the new object of desire. Modern tourist travel began to take shape, and some governments granted the right of paid holidays to the working class".[2] Thus, specific architectures such as seaside resorts and cruise ships were developed from the new and revolutionary concept of leisure.

In the proposal Three couples looking at the horizon, the artist takes as a reference point the fascist organizations that were dedicated to the indoctrination of the working class in the European dictatorships of the 20th century. The organizations’ main role was to win adherents to the various totalitarian regimes through offering recreational activities in their free time. These systems played a fundamental role in developing tourist travel in which leisure and work were strictly connected. In Italy, Mussolini created the organization Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro. In Hitler's Germany, it was exported as Kraft durch Freude and became the largest tour operator of the 1930s. Franco created the organization Educación y Descanso in Spain, and Alegria no Trabalho was conceived in Salazar's Portugal. All these projects were dedicated to using recreation and culture as a means of increasing workers' performance under motivational slogans such as "Now you too can travel".[3]

The composition for Arts of The Working Class is a tableau that juxtaposes three views of the Baltic Sea. They represent different eras on a background that refers to the layers of history of the Prora Spa, a Nazi resort erected in 1936 in Rügen.[4] The artist brings together a poster of Caspar David Friedrich's Chalk Cliffs in Rügen on a wall painted with Spanish White - or Crete color, taken from those depicted white chalk cliffs. Next to it, over a wall fragment, an illustration of an "Aryan" couple looking at the sea of Rügen with Prora in their background, derived from the original 1939 poster for Kraft durch Freude. They are alongside the lines with a contemporary couple contemplating the Baltic horizon from a balcony, taken from an advertisement of Prora’s new hotels. Today, that German resort, which was originally constructed as a holiday ideal for the workers of the National Socialist regime, has become a real estate venture which includes luxurious flats with a seaside view, welcoming those who can afford it.

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