Stories from Spain: San Marcos and MUSAC

By Ian Morfin-Valencia, 2019 cohort

When I was given the opportunity to choose which excursion I could write about, I was enthusiastic. My eyes scrolled down the paper that had all the options I could choose from. They stopped at MUSAC, or Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Contemporary Museum of Art) and visit to San Marcos, a church. I decided to write about this specific excursion because I have never had much interest in art, but I thought that I would be pleasantly surprised by the art on display at the museum and that it would be an overall positive experience.

I was wrong.

The first half of the excursion was okay, I was feeling quite happy since the rendezvous point was only a 5 minute walk away from my apartment, in contrast with the usual 30 minute walk to the Center of Languages. The visit to San Marcos was pretty uneventful, and to be honest, quite lacking in my opinion. This was probably due to the fact that a sizable chunk of the structure was closed for remodeling. Anyhow, we went into the church, took some pictures, saw the best art on display that day, received a crash course on knights and a dude named Santiago that had a white horse, then left. The entire visit took probably less than 40 minutes. After that we headed to MUSAC.

As I said before, I never liked art; I recognize the importance of art as a tool of critique, but I don’t see the appeal of admiring or making art. No matter how I looked at it, I did not find purpose or meaning in the artworks on display at the MUSAC. All of the artworks were senseless, it was as if you had gone through the garbage of a weird antique shop and called the items found “art”. I seriously questioned if the group leader had gotten lost and mistakenly took us to the wrong place; but surely enough, I was indeed in the right place. Some “artworks” on display were:

  • A picture of a person laying on an empty street (black and white).

  • An old picture of a family (mother, 3 daughters, 1 son).

  • A table with magazines placed on it and an old analog TV playing what appeared to be a 70s dance video?

  • Collage of seemingly meaningless pictures.

  • A woman enunciating similar sounding Spanish works (Audio).

  • A black leather chair with a book on it.

  • Chairs on an open area.

I found the most amazing work of art to be a wall dedicated for the kids that visit to draw on with crayons. Although the quality was worse, I found comfort in knowing that what the kids drew was largely meaningless; there was no “hidden message” I felt too dumb to understand. No double meaning or critique, it was the raw imagination of children put on display. I understood that there was nothing to understand, at least the children were able to clearly convey that, whereas the artworks of the serious artists perhaps had a true meaning, but it was hidden behind countless layers of mystery and “modernity” that it felt like a bad joke. 

In the end, I greatly enjoyed the experience. The MUSAC was nothing short of amusing, as the artists there have made it so there is nothing else left in their artwork. I didn’t dislike the experience because the art was bad, in the contrary, the experience was good because of the bad art, but I don’t think I will return there. San Marcos was alright too, although I wish I had been able to see more.

Kristina Brown