The installation Visible spectres by the artist Claudio Correa is formed by a series of light sculptures whose central element is a selection of coins minted in different periods of the history of Spain. On these coins we find portraits of the dictator Francisco Franco and of monarchs such as Alfonso X and Alfonso XIII, all accompanied by the phrase “By the G. of God”, which legitimizes the authority of these figures, calling upon a supposed divine right: the “grace” of God, represented in abbreviated form by this capital G.
Some of these coins were in circulation until relatively recently, and they all continue to be marketed and collected as numismatic objects. They thus form a material culture which refers to a historical past which has not always been sufficiently reviewed or questioned and which, in a certain way, reveals the complex relations which have existed throughout the history of Spain between economic power, religion, political power and state violence.
The artistic intervention by Claudio Correa on these coins revives this historical past from a critical position. The artist has partially perforated the face of the personalities who are portrayed and has highlighted some parts of this phrase which legitimized their power. Using lenses from cameras and from slide projectors, Correa has also constructed devices which light up the coins and project their numismatic portraits onto circular surfaces of methacrylate which act as screens, magnifying them and granting them a spectral character. By means of this visual operation, which oversizes and, at the same time, dematerializes the faces of the portraits, Correa underlines the sometimes indistinguishable separation between the person, the historical figure and their symbolic dimension, in addition to the character of a construct that all historical accounts contain. The installation evokes certain forms of entertainment which were precursors of film, such as the camera obscura or phantasmagoria, based on the creation of optical effects which highlight the procedural nature of the image. On the other hand, the mutilation that the artist inflicts on the faces of these authorities reveals the underlying violence on exercising any authoritarian power and the need to challenge it through a critical recovery of historical memory.
The work of Claudio Correa (Arica, Chile, 1972) focuses on a critical revision of history and on an analysis and the problematization of the devices of national representation and the structures of power, especially in the context of modernity. He is particularly interested in demonstrating the banality and the narcissism present in the hegemonic representation of power and its influence on shaping contemporary identity. Correa also studies the symbology, the theoretical discourses and the political and social practices which have structured the relations between Europe and Latin America over time. His work usually incorporates objects related to historiographical records or to the creation of national discourse and identity, such as flags, hymns, medals and coins, which he often modifies with technological and digital devices.
Claudio Correa’s artwork has been presented in important museums and galleries of Latin America, Europe and the United States. His most important exhibitions include his participation in the VIII Havana Biennial (Cuba); the Shanghai Biennale (China); Back Yard, at the Americas Society (United States); Resistance and Fall and Madness, at the ACC Galerie Weimar (Germany); Fricciones y ficciones, at the Museo Blanes in Montevideo (Uruguay) and De naturaleza violenta, at FLORA ars+natura, in Bogotá (Colombia), and his solo exhibition Libertad, Igualdad, Fatalidad, at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago (Chile). In Spain, Correa has presented his work in art centres such as the MEIAC (Badajoz), Centro de Arte Contemporáneo La Conservera (Ceutí) and the Addaya Centre d’Art (Palma de Mallorca). He was artist-in-residence at Hangar and currently holds this position at the Fàbrica de Creació Fabra i Coats (Barcelona).