Fran Meana’s practice investigates the role symbolic structures play in the construction of collective rituals and historical narratives. Through ongoing research based projects Meana aims to re-examine and reformulate the lineage of ideas we have inherited and the contexts in which they were created.
Reasoning well with badly drawn figures follows the artist’s investigation of the industrial heritage of his native Asturias, an area in northern Spain that recently faced the decay of the model of industrialization and is undergoing a process to develop a new mode of production. Initiatied last year during a residency at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, the project focuses on the stone reliefs located in the grounds of the Ave Maria School of Arnao. Built in 1913 by the Real Compañía Asturiana de Minas the school was part of an industrial mining community on the edge of the Cantabrian Sea which today languishes in a state of semiabandonment. The community included a mine, a factory, housing for the workers, a cooperative store and a school. The reliefs were used to teach geometry, geography and mathematics to the workers and their children, and are a unique example of the didactic vocation exercised by industrial paternalism.
In an attempt to convey a fragmentation of the gaze, Meana has made cement replicas of partial details of the original reliefs through the combination of digital and analogue processes. After photographing the reliefs, the images are modeled in 3D and then transfered to full-scale volumes using a CNC machine. The volumes are molded in silicone, and finally cast in cement. The fragmented reliefs are presented on modular shelves together with archival images and documents.
Acting as archeological objects, the reliefs are one of the few material remains of a key stage in society’s development when physical labour transformed into the immaterial assets of a postindustrial society. A change in the productive activity often attributed to the arrival of cognitive capitalism and that actually goes back to the beginning of the industrial revolution. For Meana, the abstract quality of the reliefs and their strange timelessness result from intersecting digital and analog techniques as well as the fragmentation of experience caused by the increased difficulty in identifying the nature of the work and where it takes place. A displacement from the factory to the social space that allows the artist to question the relationship between forms of production and the construction of symbols and images that shape our everyday world.
Fran Meana’s recent exhibitions include: Prospects & Concepts – Mondriaan Fonds toont talent, Rotterdam (2014); Las propiedades extrañas – con Milena Bonilla, Espacio Líquido, Gijón (2014); Traslaciones, Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, Spain (2013); Jetztzeit (el tiempo del ahora) + La espalda del ángel, Centre d’art la Panera, Lleida, España (2013); Blank, Black, Back, Homesession, Barcelona (2012); Greenroom, NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona (2012); ANANA. El viajero imprudente, Espacio Líquido, Gijón, España (2011); Delimitations: An Exhibition of Spanish Contemporary Art, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, IL (2012); La cuestión del Paradigma. Genealogías de la emergencia en el arte contemporáneo en Cataluña, Centre d’Art La Panera, Lleida (2011); Antes que todo (Before Everything), CA2M, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Móstoles (2010); Basado en hechos reales, ARTIUM Collection, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz (2010); Everything is out there, ‘Inéditos’ La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2010); 89Km., MARCO, Vigo/ CGAC, Santiago de Compostela (2010); Educando el saber, Laboratorio 987, MUSAC, León (2010).
Fran Meana (Avilés, 1982) lives and works in London and Rotterdam.