Change and decay: commemorating a declining way of life

April 08, 2023

In his exhibition "Autopsy of a landscape", Asier Gogortza applies the methods of forensic analysis to an exploration of the state of the Basque Country’s rural landscapes.

The word autopsy comes from ancient Greek. "Seeing for oneself" would be a direct translation:αὐτός(autos, self) andὄψις(opsis, seeing). “The primary purpose of an autopsy,” observes Asier, “is to examine the body of the deceased, verify that he or she is indeed dead, and then analyze the causes of death.”

The four photo-series that make up this exhibition are the fruit of a similar approach. Landscapes, villages, and houses that once were full of life now appear moribund or completely dead. The photographer has undertaken a forensic documentation of their demise.

One of the four series consists of photos of all the sheep byres in the municipal territory of Bera, in Navarre, where Asier lives. These stone constructions and the pastures around them remind us that, in Bera as in most other Pyrenean communities, sheepherding was formerly one of the main pillars of the local economy.

Today, these sheep byres are little more than an echo of a bygone time. More than half of them are in ruins and invaded by brambles. Only a few of those still standing are still used for sheepherding.

The dispassionate eye of the photographer, however, has no truck with nostalgia. All the sheep byres have been photographed from the same angle, as in a forensic examination. Then, as with corpses after an autopsy in a morgue, those that are abandoned and in ruins have been covered with a white sheet.

“It’s a question,” explains Asier, “of preserving what’s left of their dignity.”

Exhibition in the Prison des Évêques, Saint Jean Pied de Port

8-30 April, daily except Tuesdays 11.00 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 18.30

A new life for old chairs

April 01, 2024

In the small town of Bera, in Navarre, students at a local school are working to give a new destiny to a batch of dilapidated old chairs.

Focusing on the climate crisis in a visual arts class

December 18, 2023

Over a three-month period, students at the Lycée Frantsesenia in Saint Jean Pied de Port were invited to reflect on the effects of the climate crisis, drawing inspiration from a painting by the artist Txiki Agirre "Keixeta".

Watching order emerge from chaos

October 18, 2023

When she first began painting, Oaia Peruarena, like many artists, drew her inspiration from nature and landscapes, notably in the Basque Country's Baztan valley, where she learned to paint with local figurative artists José Mari Apezetxea and Tomás Sobrino.

Creating turmoil in the midst of chaos

May 03, 2023

Christian Saint Marc (Langon, 1963) spent his childhood surrounded by the paint pots and brushes of his father, an artisan painter. Journeys to Africa and then to Greece awakened his vocation as an artist. Since 1994, he has lived in the Basque Country, in Aïcirits.

A silence that fills space

May 03, 2023

A multidisciplinary artist living in San Sebastián, Iker Valle (Andoain, 1976) has developed an individual creative process in his studio in Hernani.

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