Canary Island Beaches as a Cabinet of Curiosities, 2007

Ali&Cia's Cabinet of Rarities, Curiosities and Exotica.

Advisor: Fernando Estévez, Anthropology professor, University of La Laguna, and director of the Tenerife Museum of History and Anthropology.

Additional research: Melissa Suárez del Real and José Ramón Marcaida López

"Ratio perfecta. Tranquilitas animi"

Justus Lipsius, Amberes 1580 1590

"Prisca Sapientia"

Athanasius Kircher, 1602- 1608

On the occasion of ArteLanzarote 2007, organised by MIAC (Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo), Ali&Cia responded to a commission to create an installation on the theme of the biennale, The Raft of the Medusa, by presenting a Cabinet of Rarities, Curiosities and Exotica that represented, metaphorically, the circumstantial encounters between locals, tourists and immigrants in the extraordinary context of the beaches of the Canary Islands. It was held in the Centro de Arte Ermita San Antonio in Tias, Lanzarote.

Alicia Ríos has been especially drawn to the subject of cabinets of curiosities even since she diagnosed herself with Archive Fever. The French philosophers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida analysed the approach of those who, like Ali&Cia, admire the regularities and exceptions that our complex environment exhibits and strive to apply the art of taxonomy, a pursuit that results in archives replete with series, categories, key words and specimens.

The coordinates of the Archive Fever patient transcend the classical categories of the so-called Big Picture, the official scientific paradigm of Aristotelian roots cemented in the methods of natural science adopted by Newton and those of the Enlightenment, which goes back to the second half of the 17th century. There are always those who, attracted by the diversity struggling inside the asphyxiating corset of pure, hard rationalism, endeavour to incorporate into the scientific paradigm that which cannot be measured, counted, explained or predicted, putting understanding before all else. The current validation of formerly vilified cognitive registers such as enthusiasm and wonder, along with the impetus to identify all surrounding minutiae and endow them with meaning, revitalises the supposedly irrational approach of 18th century Baroque science.

Ali&Cia welcome Neo-Platonist itineraries, hermetic, magical and mystical. They look for atypical markers that allow us to furnish the Ars Memorativa, microcosms populated by enigmatic, emblematic, marginal, exotic beings. They call for a return to the Cabinets of Curiosities in which the universe, macrocosm, is reflected as microcosm, theatres of memory dedicated to all that inhabits the three classical Realms of scientific observation: Mineralia, Vegetalia and Animalia, not to forget Artificialia, the products of the feverish, hyperactive minds and hands of humankind. Ali&Cia calls for the restoration of the exuberant and exaggerated chambers of the courts, palaces and institutions of European culture where from the dawn of the 17th century collectors exhibited found objects and artefacts, turning away from encyclopaedism to set up suites of excessive exoticism.

For the Cabinet of Curiosities presented in Tias, Lanzarote, a whole manner of objects and images were presented which referenced, both literally and poetically, the experiences of locals, tourists and immigrants on Canary Island Beaches. Nature jostled with Nature Recreated and Nature Reinvented and it was up to visitors to identify the Symbols and Metaphors among the Souvenirs and Surreal Objects. Those who came to immerse themselves in the universe of experiences represented were advised that they themselves constituted the maximum rarity of all, and a mirror among all the pieces on display invited them to reflect on their own curiousness and curiosity.

Texto de introducción: "Las Playas de Canarias como Gabinete de las Maravillas"
(download pdf)

Intro text: "Canary Island Beaches as a Cabinet of Curiosities"
(download pdf)