It all started one day at the end of February 2018 in Madrid, when in the Blanquerna bookstore I discovered the book 1939: The Confiscated Clouds by Josep Batlló and Montserrat Busto, and the fascinating story of the archive of the old Meteorological Service of Catalonia (SMC), abducted by Francoism in 1939 and returned to the Catalan government in 1984 in a deplorable state. Within a short time I managed to visit this archive at the Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia in Barcelona, and right away they introduced me to the person who classified and best knows the archive, Josep Batlló, so that he might guide me through all the documents. (Andrés Galeano)
Andrés Galeano ’s exhibition project Lost Clouds Archive weaves together family and portrait photography with old meteorological photography to reveal a metaphysical connection between the photographic medium and the sphere of the celestial or transcendental. Looking at the history of meteorology and photography sparks connections with current issues such as digitalisation and data clouds as well as global warming. The exhibition invites us to think of the concept of the sky from different perspectives – the meteorological view of the physical sky, the photographic view of a metaphysical sky and the digital view of a contemporary sky.
Lost Clouds Archive draws on old archival material from the Meteorological Service of Catalonia (SMC) and goes on a journey exploring various archives in Catalonia, following its main protagonists – SMC patron and passionate meteorologist Rafael Patxot i Jubert, photographer Josep Pons i Girbau, the Campo family in Fabras, and then director of SMC and Barcelona observatory Eduard Fontserè. It is an investigation and a journey through the Catalan landscape.
Visitors can enter the exhibition through Ag47 Gallery as well as Kogo Gallery. Kogo Gallery houses the part of the exhibition that tells the story of the intertwined histories of meteorology and photography, drawing on material from the archives of the Meteorological Service of Catalonia – a story of work and dedication, disappearance and destruction, preservation and conservation.
The story unfolds through the works in the exhibition as well as Andres Galeano’s publication FPN (Fons Perdut de Núvols (in Catalan) / Lost Cloud Background). The structure of the book was inspired by the International Atlas of Clouds and States of the Sky, published in 1932, and its 13 × 18 cm format is a reference to the photo-sensitised glass plates, a medium once widely used to photograph the daily formation of clouds. The box-format publication includes a booklet with texts by experts in the history of meteorology and photography as well as contemporary art; added to it is a selection of images showcasing a possible archival collection. Leafing through the thin unbound sheets of paper gives the experience of carefully digging into an archive and making connections based on what you see. The whole project represents time as an artistic factor and an aesthetics of degradation.
In Ag47 Gallery , the visitors enter a self-service photographic studio where they can take selfies against a background of the clouds of their choice. Here, Andres Galeano stages a modern version of a mid-19th-century photographic studio offering carte de visite portraits, often against a backdrop of painted clouds. You are welcome to share your photos to contribute to the artist’s research project #TheWeightOfTheClouds. Today’s smartphones are much like the historical carte de visite photographs. The backs of these photographs were adorned with the studios’ emblems, which are echoed by the phone cases shown in the exhibition, providing food for thought about the meaning of capturing photographs, spectacle in our lives, and the mechanisms and effects of the digital storage of photographs.
The artist plays with the semantic ambiguity found in the Romance languages in the words tiempo and temps (in Spanish and Catalan, respectively), which can mean both time and weather, and fondo and fons, which can mean both an archive and background. It is at this point that the materials from the SMC archive intertwine with the studio photography of the time – its ethereal, weightless and celestial production qualities.
The exhibition was created in collaboration with the Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia (ICGC) and the Meteorological Service of Catalonia (Meteocat)
Producer and curator: Liina Raus
Communication: Karin Kahre and Kerli Jõgi
Consultant: Šelda Puķite
Graphic design: Aleksandra Samulenkova
Installation: Urmo Teekivi
Painter: Karoliina Tomasson (Pallas University of Applied Sciences)
Public programme coordinator: Kristo Tennosaar, Kerli Jõgi
Translation and language editing: Refiner TranslationsSUPPORTERS
The Exhibition was supported by the Ramon Llull Institute, Department of Culture of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, Neu Start Kultur Grant of the Kulturwerk foundation by VG-BildKunst, Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, the Estonian Cultural Endowment, the City of Tartu and Akzo Nobel Baltics AS.
Ag47 Gallery, Galería RocioSantaCruz, Mataró Art Contemporani (M|A|C), Mareplex, Reklaamikompanii, Villem Säre, Mobiskin.lv, Sadolin, Tartu Kõrgem Kunstikool Pallas.
‘Lost Clouds Archive’
04/02/2022 — 02/04/2022
Kogo gallery and Ag47 gallery
Photography: Marje Eelma