NoguerasBlanchard is pleased to present Wilfredo Prieto’s first exhibition in Spain (Sancti-Spiritus, Cuba, 1978). For his first project made out of Cuba, Prieto has transformed the gallery into a library, with about 6000 books in different formats and sizes, where the complete abscence of the written word aims to explore issues of deprivation and censorship and question the authority of knowledge over perception.
Prieto plays with the viewer’s expectations and creates an instant of surprise when one enters the gallery and encounters hundreds of shelves full of empty books. The feeling of estrangement is accentuated by the use of materials such as wooden shelves and study desks which recall the familiar atmosphere of traditional libraries.
Described by Gerardo Mosquera, curator at the New Museum of Art in New York, as a wicked minimalist, Prieto seeks to articulate meaning parting from the reduction of contents. The white library embodies concepts that go beyond a commentary of particular issues such as the paradox of education in a global context of censorship and poverty. The work reveals a counterpoint between essence and appearance, generating a conflict between form and content, fullness and emptiness, silence and words.
Libraries symbolize knowledge, and they have traditionally stood for places where only a priviledged literate minority gained access to the culture zealously guarded on their shelves; quasi-magical spaces that held the keys for understanding the universe. Wilfredo Prieto comes close to recreating the idea of the universe as expressed by Jorge Luis Borges or Umberto Eco where the library stands for man’s vital experience.