Atelier Morales: Hermanos Enemigos

10 Sep 2009 – 11 Oct 2009

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The Steps Gallery

London, United Kingdom


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  • Pimlico
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‘Our most bitter enemies are our own kith and kin. Kings have no brothers, no sons, no mother!‘ - Honore De Balzac It is an oxymoronic title the one given to this last work by Atelier Morales, Hermanos Enemigos. Brothers are supposed to be a close knit team and work towards the same goal. It is certain that arguments are expected but not to the extreme that they become enemies. The shared genetics, parenting, cultural and social beliefs during their upbringing and development should guarantee that brothers will always find a way to get along, never really becoming enemies, even after long disputes. It's often said that blood is thicker then water. Why do some brothers become enemies? The documented historical cases and mythical narrations used by Atelier Morales to inspire and develop the series we present in this catalogue is imbued and splashed with blood! Real and mythic blood! They allude to brothers that have resorted to violence and violent stratagems to undercut and anihilate each other. Where has the energy necessary to bring-about the outcomes of the eleven cases illustrated by Atelier Morales come from? One of the possible answers to this question is in the religious, social, cultural and political contextualisation of the conflicts in question. While the current series of photographs does not aspire to give us any answers, I believe it suggests different outcomes to the conflicts. The series itself has been inspired by the geopolitics of many internal conflicts occurring today in the world, as enumerated by Nina Menocal. Some of them are: conflicts between Israel and Palestine; Hamas and Fatha inside Palestine, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; Cubans in Miami and Havana; Basque separatists and Spaniards; Uigures and the Han in Xinjiang; Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda; and Sindis and Sijs in India. These contemporary conflicts are both a beginning and endpoint for the Hermanos Enemigos series. Atelier Morales first started to think about the current conflicts in the world between close nations, close religious groups or factions and internal national disputes for independence or recognition. It was after realising that the contemporary map of conflicts and disputes are not between factions that are distant from each other, geographically, ideologically and politically, but between factions that are cohabitating in the same nation or region. They are what in lato sensu geopolitical terms we could call brothers. They are conflicts between bothers that have become enemies. One of the most interesting features of this new series by Atelier Morales is the way they have succeeded in focussing our attention on some of the contemporary conflicts and disputes listed above, through a very thorough and respectable research into the historical and mythical conflicts and disputes among brothers that have become enemies. Through this series the critical and aesthetic sensitive eye of Atelier Morales renders into photography a contemporary view of these historical and mythical narrated conflicts. A close look at the photographs shows us that the places where the central characters are photographed are all old, abandoned and derelict buildings. This dereliction mirrors the lives and realities that each character has to exist in. They are ghetto like environments, destitute like the lives of those that become the victims of the conflicts in question. Hermanos Enimigos is, in this sense, an astute contemporary critique of the several conflicts and disputes among close factions in the world. It is an attempt to highlight the fact that at the bad end of these conflicts there is only desolation and none of the factions can ultimately become victorious. When brothers fight, when brothers become enemies and when there are murders among them, nothing good comes of it. Fratricide as proven by the historical and mythical accounts that inspire this series does not bring anything good for the surviving murderer either. By highlighting these very obvious facts Atelier Morales tries to bring into the forefront of our minds alternative resolutions to current conflicts and disputes in the world. They try to instigate a break in the pattern of the survival of the strongest principle. Sometimes the strongest faction is not always right so that does not mean that it should always win... and sometimes there is not even a need for there to be a winner and a loser. As it should be with brothers, they should share or compromise. Becoming enemies is not a solution.

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