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The exhibition 'The Immobile City. Oteiza in Bilbao' is now open

Photo: Mikel Blasco

  • Located in the Bilbao headquarters of the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos Vasco-Navarro, it brings together the work that the artist Jorge Oteiza carried out in 1994 with a group of students for the new Zorrozaurre.
  • The exhibition is curated by Emilio Varela and Santos Bregaña, students at the time who participated in the project, and will be open until the 29th December.

In 1994, the artist Jorge Oteiza carried out a project in Arteleku with a group of students who together imagined the future of Zorrozaurre, in Bilbao. 30 years later, two of those students have curated an exhibition that takes up that project: 'The immobile city. Oteiza in Bilbao' has now opened its doors.

On display at the Bilbao headquarters of the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos Vasco-Navarro until 29 December, it deals with the participation of the sculptor Jorge Oteiza with a team of architects and architecture students for an urban planning proposal in the centre of Bilbao. "The year was 1994 and the project was part of a competition organised by the Thyssen Industrie Group, with the collaboration of the BBVA Foundation and the support of Bilbao City Council, in what was the Zorrozaurre peninsula", say the curators, Emilio Varela and Santos Bregaña, who have organised the exhibition as part of the proposals that Bilbao Metrópoli-30 is coordinating as part of the Mugak/ 2023 Biennial.

"Although this proposal for the island of Zorrozaurre is not a very well-known subject -or perhaps for that very reason- we believe that it contributes new things both to the work of Jorge Oteiza and to the understanding of a significant part of the city of Bilbao", say the curators.

The exhibition brings together the project they themselves carried out at Arteleku, as part of the group of students that also included Mikel Enparantza, Bakarne Iturrioz, Javier Pérez and Javier Zunda. It was directed by the brothers Iñaki and Jon Begiristain, who organised the meetings with the different collaborators, under the watchful eye and advice of the sculptor Jorge Oteiza, the programme of Ramón Zallo and the consultations with Iñaki Zubizarreta.

It was the third time that Bilbao was present in Oteiza's career, after his projects for La Alhóndiga and Sabin Etxea. But this time it was not an architectural proposal, but an urban planning one. To carry it out, the then-director of Arteleku, Santi Eraso, gave the group a space and some resources. "Oteiza came once a week or once a fortnight, creating a stir among the artists at the centre, he would put us in order and we would go for lunch. In 1994, the sculptor from Orihuela was 86 years old, but he was still in his full faculties, giving us countless indications, so many that the fundamental ideas of the project are his", they say.

The exhibition takes the name 'The Immobile City' from Oteiza's own work; specifically, from the book on megalithic interpretation that he wrote in Colombia. "We have rescued that concept to apply it to the island of Zorrozaurre. Time has redoubled the relevance of a proposal that, already in 1994, was completely different from the rest. Where the others spoke of streets, we spoke of roads and where they proposed squares and parks, we proposed woods and voids. It was another concept that incorporated the whole "Oteizian world". The years have gone by, but for us, the project was already interesting then and continues to be so because of the debates it tackles. Even more than before. In fact, this episode, little commented on in the sculptor's career, was nevertheless another opportunity, the third and last, in which the artist had the opportunity to propose for Bilbao his ideas on research in the field of aesthetics and the arts, applying them to the way of making the city and the territory. It is no coincidence that it was this competition and the city of Bilbao, a city then in the midst of a process of reconversion and immersed in profound changes, that provided him with new opportunities to try to give shape to his ideas on applied aesthetics and to try out his political approaches to art for the integration of his aesthetic project in the territory and the city. Thus, this exhibition is a natural addition to the current debate on interventions in city centres". 


The Programme is being prepared