.
W


hen the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close its doors to the public, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, housed in the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, took its art to the streets, first, by creating exhibits on the fence surrounding its property, and now, with Adolfo Serra's “The Great Journey," on the windows of the building itself.  

“Washington is a city where there are a lot of cultural activities, and at the same time, it’s very seclusive,” said Miguel Albero, Cultural Counselor at the Cultural Office at the Embassy of Spain. “So it’s good to do things out of the box because it works, and people like when you offer them things that they are not accustomed to, to watch or to see.”

When one comes upon the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, “The Great Journey” by Adolfo Serra appears in images seemingly painted on the outside windows. In his depictions, the Spanish illustrator probes the concept of the First Circumnavigation of the world, which occurred 500 years ago with the Magellan-Elcano expedition.  

"When photography did not exist, the only way to document reality was through drawing. We cannot even imagine what it must have been like reaching distant lands and meeting strange animals or giant plants for the first time," Serra wrote at the launch of the exhibit. "Magallanes and Elcano were the first to 'travel and discover all the roundness of the world' between 1519 and 1522. A new world in this world."

“The windows become a living notebook, a set of screens showing some of those dreamed, real and invented fauna sprouts encountered by navigators: the birds of paradise, the guanaco, the Magellanic penguins, the fox of Patagonia,” Serra further explained. "At a time when the screen has become the basic support for the transmission of information, and mobility is limited, this project uses the power of illustration to evoke that ‘surprise of the encounter.’”

Complementing the windows exhibit is “50 Fotografías con Historia,” a photography exhibit spread out in uniform spacing along the lengths of the building’s fence barrier. This exhibit, curated by José María Díaz Maroto and Gonzalo Revidiego, highlights the history of photography during the past 80 years in Spain. The first 25 photos remain attached to the fence, and the other 25 photos will appear during the fall. The captured moments in the photographs reflect a way of understanding photography and its ultimate social and human significance.

Other exhibits such as "Transformando lo físico" and "Pan y Circo" emerge as well. “Transformando lo físico,” curated by Ana Bustelo, displays a different artistic proposal for the facade of the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain building. The exhibit resides in the front garden space within the fence. The facade exhibits will change each month for a year, inviting new comparisons between the physical and artistic representation of the building.

The “Pan y Circo” mural, created by Spanish artist Axel Void, sits tucked away on the building’s southern side. In two similar images, Void’s black-and-white mural portrays masses of people descending a zig-zagging staircase.

These outside exhibits allow the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain to promote Spanish culture within the United States, and allow visitors to access these specially-curated exhibits, even when their usual space is closed due to the pandemic. In this way, the outside building and property of the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain is itself the museum, creating an experience that will last potentially beyond the end of the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t see that things that are happening in museums are for them,” said Miguel Albero. “If you bring the things outside, you attract their interest because otherwise, you will think, what is this building with these flags?”

The Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain is located at 2801 16th St NW in Washington DC. Additional information and virtual exhibits are available on the cultural office's website.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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New Exhibits Bring Cultural Center Outdoors

Photo by Whitney DeVries.

May 21, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close its doors to the public, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, housed in the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, took its art to the streets.

W


hen the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close its doors to the public, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, housed in the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, took its art to the streets, first, by creating exhibits on the fence surrounding its property, and now, with Adolfo Serra's “The Great Journey," on the windows of the building itself.  

“Washington is a city where there are a lot of cultural activities, and at the same time, it’s very seclusive,” said Miguel Albero, Cultural Counselor at the Cultural Office at the Embassy of Spain. “So it’s good to do things out of the box because it works, and people like when you offer them things that they are not accustomed to, to watch or to see.”

When one comes upon the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, “The Great Journey” by Adolfo Serra appears in images seemingly painted on the outside windows. In his depictions, the Spanish illustrator probes the concept of the First Circumnavigation of the world, which occurred 500 years ago with the Magellan-Elcano expedition.  

"When photography did not exist, the only way to document reality was through drawing. We cannot even imagine what it must have been like reaching distant lands and meeting strange animals or giant plants for the first time," Serra wrote at the launch of the exhibit. "Magallanes and Elcano were the first to 'travel and discover all the roundness of the world' between 1519 and 1522. A new world in this world."

“The windows become a living notebook, a set of screens showing some of those dreamed, real and invented fauna sprouts encountered by navigators: the birds of paradise, the guanaco, the Magellanic penguins, the fox of Patagonia,” Serra further explained. "At a time when the screen has become the basic support for the transmission of information, and mobility is limited, this project uses the power of illustration to evoke that ‘surprise of the encounter.’”

Complementing the windows exhibit is “50 Fotografías con Historia,” a photography exhibit spread out in uniform spacing along the lengths of the building’s fence barrier. This exhibit, curated by José María Díaz Maroto and Gonzalo Revidiego, highlights the history of photography during the past 80 years in Spain. The first 25 photos remain attached to the fence, and the other 25 photos will appear during the fall. The captured moments in the photographs reflect a way of understanding photography and its ultimate social and human significance.

Other exhibits such as "Transformando lo físico" and "Pan y Circo" emerge as well. “Transformando lo físico,” curated by Ana Bustelo, displays a different artistic proposal for the facade of the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain building. The exhibit resides in the front garden space within the fence. The facade exhibits will change each month for a year, inviting new comparisons between the physical and artistic representation of the building.

The “Pan y Circo” mural, created by Spanish artist Axel Void, sits tucked away on the building’s southern side. In two similar images, Void’s black-and-white mural portrays masses of people descending a zig-zagging staircase.

These outside exhibits allow the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain to promote Spanish culture within the United States, and allow visitors to access these specially-curated exhibits, even when their usual space is closed due to the pandemic. In this way, the outside building and property of the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain is itself the museum, creating an experience that will last potentially beyond the end of the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t see that things that are happening in museums are for them,” said Miguel Albero. “If you bring the things outside, you attract their interest because otherwise, you will think, what is this building with these flags?”

The Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain is located at 2801 16th St NW in Washington DC. Additional information and virtual exhibits are available on the cultural office's website.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.