Esther Ferrer (Donostia/San Sebastián, 1937) is a pioneer in performance art in Spain, as well as one of the leading performance artists in the country. She took the first steps in her career in the late 1970s. Since then, she has developed several lines of thought through a variety of forms and materials.
Her oeuvre is a part of the Minimalist and Conceptual Art movement. In the 1960s, she was under the influence of Stéphane Mallarmé, Georges Perec, John Cage, and the feminist theorists of the day. In 1967, she joined Zaj, a group established by Walter Marchetti, Ramón Barce, and Juan Hidalgo. With Zaj, Ferrer found in action art her main medium. From 1970 on, however, she returned to the visual arts in the form of staged photographs, installations, paintings and drawings based on the prime number series, objects and sound recordings. With straightforward, subversive and shocking performances, the members of Zaj stuck together until 1996, when the group dissolved after a retrospective at the Reina Sofía Museum (MNCARS) in Madrid.
According to Ferrer, performance art is “art that involves time and space with the presence of the audience—an audience that is made of participants rather than viewers.” She values the audience’s freedom above everything else. No conclusions are offered by the artist: only questions for the viewers to find an answer of their own, for them to generate their own personal interpretation of the artwork.
Throughout her long career, Esther Ferrer has participated in countless action art festivals and shown her works in many museums. She is also the recipient of a high number of accolades. She represented Spain at the Biennale di Venezia (1999) and was awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas (2008), the Gure Artea Saria of the Basque Government (2012), the Marie Claire Prix de l’art contemporain (2014) and the Premio Velázquez de Artes Plásticas (2014).
Most of the works in this exhibition have never been shown before. They will be activated in special ways, by means of performances and interactions with visitors.
(Photo: Erika Ede. Esther Ferrer Archive © Esther Ferrer, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018)