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Socially-engaged artist brings her work to Middlesbrough

16 May 2016

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) presents Motherland, Fatherland, the first solo show in England by the Spanish artist Núria Güell, organised as part of a festival celebrating Latin and Lusophone culture in North East England.

The exhibition includes two of Barcelona-based Güell’s key works: Humanitarian Aid (2008-13) and Stateless by Choice (2015-16). Both projects explore questions around national identity and migration.

Humanitarian Aid documents an exchange of services, with Güell offering herself in marriage to any man wanting to emigrate from Cuba to Spain, a deal which eventually took place and ended in divorce after he obtained Spanish citizenship.

Stateless by Choice considers the historical roots of nationalism, with Güell engaging in a process, informed by self-determination ideologies, to reject her citizenship, which proved to be impossible given the inadequacy of the Spanish state to consider such a request.

In her practice Güell addresses issues of legality, power, ethics and morality. She employs tactics associated with activism, regularly using her persona as subject matter or collaborating with people in a variety of contexts. Her works challenge, and often subvert the political status quo, mainstream lifestyles, gender divisions and dominant economies.

Senior curator Miguel Amado said: “We’re pleased to present Núria’s work, which is at the forefront of ‘social practice’, a type of art that operates in society. We hope that our visitors find Motherland, Father land provocative and that it encourages conversations around the topics it examines beyond the gallery.”

“Güell is also currently developing a new work as part of the Arte Útil commission series that mima initiated this year. The project addresses the relationship between experiences of displacement, particularly of asylum seekers, and issues related to housing and conflict.”

Motherland, Fatherland is supported by Acción Cultural Española. This is the fifth year mima has collaborated with ¡VAMOS!, a festival which has featured in key UK cities including  Leeds and Liverpool as well as now having a permanent cultural hub in Newcastle called ¡VAMOS! Social which features in-door mural art from Brazilian artist Ananda Nahu.

Nahu will be returning to produce work at this year’s ¡VAMOS! festival along with Derlon. Both commissions will be at North Tyneside Metro Station.

The exhibition is on view from Saturday 11 June until Sunday 24 July.


Nuria Guell_Stateless by Choice_Photo by Joseph Carr (002)

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