Surviving Picasso

Surviving Picasso / Sobrevivir a Picasso’ Project, 2012

Fundación Picasso. Museo Casa Natal del Ayuntamiento de Málaga.

In 1996, James Ivory directed the feature film Surviving Picasso, based on Picasso’s life story. Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington’s book Creator and Destroyer (1996), is clearly a humourous nod to Françoise Gilot's memoirs, Vivre avec Picasso (1965), where she recounts the complexity and difficulties of her years living with the artist. Living is not the same as surviving, a verb defined by the Royal Academy dictionary as living after a death or a given event with notably scarce means or in adverse conditions.

In October 2003 in Malaga, the museum dedicated to the most famous of its offspring, Picasso, was inaugurated in the midst of a growing role of culture within the post-Fordist economy, while at the same time it was progressively failing in the dynamic of a free market.

Malaga’s public rescue of Picasso goes back at least to 1961, when a commemorative plaque was placed on the house where he was born, on the initiative of the notary Blas Piñar. However, it was not until the opening of the Picasso Museum that a point of no return was reached in the expansion, massification and exploitation of the Picasso phenomenon, as its inauguration was preceded by a media campaign aimed at producing social consensus that was projected as not only beneficial but also inescapable. Expressions such as "now or never" or "last chance" from the mouths and pens of the most prominent local opinion makers. Day by day the wove a network  between expectation and panic (what is expected of us, will we be up to it?) in the face of a supposedly unavoidable encounter with destiny.

Today, almost a decade later, do we find that the local culture has overcome the shock or is it still in the grip of that traumatic anagnorosis? Ever since, an omnipresent ghost runs through the city, impregnating the high temples as well as the lowly barrios, set up as the new standard for measuring and calculating all other cultural expressions. Artists and creators, indeed any inhabitant of this Picasso City, urgently needs to rethink and negotiate this existence under the permanent threat of being devoured by that magnanimous and ubiquitous Saturn; it is necessary to learn to live with this prodigy and  exceptionality if we aspire to develop a cultural and artistic practice with a minimum of desirable normality: How to survive Picasso.

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