Since as recently as March 2015, Malaga’s cultural scene has benefited from the presence of new signing Centre Pompidou. This museum was named after its homonymous in Paris and rises from Malaga’s most abominably touristic spot’s concrete promenade. Its main visible structure – the actual museum is underground – is an apparently useless, massive translucent cube, reminiscent of the Rubik’s toy. This is perhaps a hint of what is hosted inside, a reminder of the diversity and plurality that turns Centre Pompidou into one of Malaga’s golden mile’s most picturesque art galleries and undoubtedly the least conventional of them all.
The project has surely caused outrage among traditionalists, who criticize it for having gained such popularity from a lax, sensationalist use of its status as a museum. Of course, to a visitor expecting to find a mere exhibition of chronologically-set works, the Pompidou is bound to disappoint. Nonetheless, truth is the Centre Pompidou does not quite aim for a place in the selective world of the arts. If at all, it adds up to the thousands of voices that question the limits of such. Strictly speaking, it represents them. Is art unpleasant? Could the cinematographic evidence of a murder be considered as art? If not, why could a shot of a woman tearing her cuticles apart with a pocket-knife over a bowl of fresh milk possibly be? Is there anything beyond the unpleasant emotion that prompts us to turn our gaze away? What counts as art? Does anything count? Centre Pompidou stands for the vindication of artistic and cultural activities by the creation of such a unique, compelling and awkward space, and by being awkward it becomes the actual seed of cultural manifestation: The centre is somehow the source of such a suspiciously constructive, contagious restlessness, that it leaves no room for indifference or motionlessness.
Links are significant: The “content-container-observer” triad
One of the most defining features of the Centre Pompidou is its power to redefine itself, to find ways to be reborn through the room’s rhythms and ambients, through people’s perceptions themselves. Inside some of them, time seems to have braked ever so precisely that it moves only fast enough for the sensitive eye to perceive whilst this subtle rotation remains unseen by the human eye. In others, matter feels as delicate as dust sculptures, suspended in the air. What all of them have in common, though, is that the burden of responsibility lies always with the visitor. Every room serves as an antechamber to the others, whose door will only open up with the proviso of the visitor’s full engagement. This is, the works will not be whole without the reactions, the complicity – even the detachment, at times, of the observer in relation to the museum. This newly formed relationship between the eye and the piece constitutes another facet of the work of art itself. Art transcends its oil and canvas cell, creating often invisible links that will guide us around in an unusual, alternative tour. Themed distinctions between rooms are, beyond a resigned mapping of space, a testimony to intergenerational, intergeneric bonds between pieces.
The museum as a whole
The Centre – in contrast to other museums-mausoleums – rejects the traditional model of art exhibition and founds a one, in which the whole is much, much more than the sum of the parts. It structures itself around an idea, a concept, owning every corner, every inch of physical space, reminding the visitor of its omnipresence. Works are used as weapons against the visitor, who is sentenced to see and live through the multimedia experience from the very first moment he chooses to cross the front door. Centre Pompidou bucks against Enlightenment conventions for pristine indifference and innocuousness in the arts: It is interactive, it is changing, it is true.
In spite of this, it never takes the liberty to omit its works’ historical, cultural and psychological contexts. We can see this in David Bowie’s balloon-like face, spreading his word over the stream of visitors, lending his acting skills and the most precious of pop culture’s treasures – his image – to American Tony Oursler’s Switch, equipping the museum with enrichening documentary and iconic hints of colour, as well as in Jean Tinguely’s childhood fears, captured in his nightmarish Autoportrait; or in the hundreds of silver, hollow, praying figures, whose shapes are but a phantom of those many University of Málaga’s students who offered to help with the making of Kader Attia’s Ghost, central piece and umbilical cord of the Centre Pompidou. All of these authors remind us that sometimes plain atemporality is a flaw and not a virtue. Embracing contemporaneity makes art fleeting, but intense, whilst a museum that is obsessed with delivering timelessness and contextual asceticism ends up mummified and dead.
As I am getting out, I see a public impressions wall. I stop to have a look. Amid hundreds of “thank you”, “bonito” and “good bye” ’s a big, bright pink post it catches my eyes. The word “perturbing” is hesitatingly handwritten on it – I can’t help but feeling identified.
(Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 9:30-20:00
Address: Centre Pompidou Málaga,
Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux, s/n,
Muelle Uno, Puerto de Málaga,
Phone No: +34 951 926 200
Email: info[dot]centrepompidou[ad]malaga[dot]eu )