This exhibition is a fascinating exploration of the themes of secrets, identity and social roles that delves into the cultural output produced by teenagers in the privacy of their bedrooms when they close the door to their parents and the world. It is the result of the research conducted by the filmmaker and visual artist Xiana Gómez-Díaz, together with Carla Calleja, in 2013 into private literature and ‘bedroom cultures’, the umbrella term for everything that teenagers produce in privacy. The concept of bedroom culture was introduced by the feminist sociologist Angela McRobbie in the late 1970s in response to the need to document the practices of female teenagers at home given that male teenagers’ habits were more commonly discussed and studied.
Secret diaries, folders stuffed with stickers and photos, drawn self-portraits, envelopes bearing messages in code, rooms decorated as motley universes, etc., all private output that the exhibition focuses on from the viewpoints of disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, art, psychology, semiotics, narratology and even graphology. As a result, these private teenage practices reveal the symbolic systems of values and authority (family, school, community, the media, etc.) of those who engage in them and also provide insights into the way factors of cultural conditioning operate from adolescence, pointing us towards an appraisal of society as a whole.
Cultura de dormitorio: Narraciones de adolescencia femenina (Bedroom Culture: Teenage Girls’ Narrations) features photographs, videos and a significant selection of original private documentation donated by a number of women for the purpose of the research. To date, Xiana Gómez-Díaz has collected over 60 private diaries written during their teenage years by women who are today aged between 22 and 55. The research is still ongoing.
Two fundamental themes run through the entire exhibition: secrecy and self-representation. Secrecy is an important concept as these cultural works, which provide an outlet for a private impulse, are produced behind closed doors: they are extremely unusual creations as they are not intended for an audience but instead employ secrecy to avoid being revealed or read by anyone. Commercially produced diaries aimed at girls are usually sold with a lock and key, and the girls that write in them – as this exhibition highlights – invent codes, hieroglyphs and encoded and encryption systems to conceal their thoughts. Both aspects expose a particular type of learning acquired from a tender age on how to manage shame and the added value of secrecy.
In addition, the exhibition looks at adolescence as a period of the self-construction of identity in progress. During this stage of our lives, a growing but undefined individuality struggles and strives to find a way through a maze of projected ideas and images: those foisted on us by our family, those conveyed by the media and those we come up with ourselves. Drawings, questions, games and self-portraits on the past, the present and what ought to be are experiments that serve as a means to find ourselves in this contentious stage of life. Drawings are today being gradually supplanted by selfies and other practices directly related to the internet and the digital environment. The exhibition does not ignore these contemporary languages of self-representation in privacy despite the fact that they are intended to be shown, unlike the more traditional practices that have thus far been pursued under a pragmatic veil of secrecy.
Culturas de dormitorio: Narraciones de adolescencia femenina is imbued with startling sincerity and includes works produced without protocol, permeated by utter naturalism and honesty and created in a context of our lives that is as tragic as it is high-spirited. Girls’ accounts, with their codes, projections and conditioning factors are telling, divulging the system and the values it instils in the individual, but they also invite us to reflect more generally on the stages that we all go through in life.
Friday, 23 October, 2015:
- Guided Tour: 7.00pm Xiana Gómez-Díaz presents her project Dormitory culture. Narrations of feminine adolescence, Sala Gran
The bookshop, Múltiplos
- 8.00pm Presentation of the books BCN Producció'15 with their authors: Xiana Gómez-Díaz and Federico García Trujillo and the tutors of the projects, Mery Cuesta and David Armengol
Thursday 29th October at 7.00pm:
1. “Dormitory Culture”/ “Project D”. Presentation of the project, reviewing the works already produced and the future of this work.
2. Projection “Preview: PROJECT D”, documentary film. Fragment of 8’ approx., film in production.
3. Live reading of diaries of adolescence.
4. Discussion with the audience.
With the participation of:
Xiana Gómez Díaz, author of “Dormitory Culture”, coordinator of “Project D”
Carla Calleja, joint creator of “Project D”
Mery Cuesta. Art critic, curator of exhibitions and cartoonist. Director of the Postgraduate course of Illustration and Còmic d'Elisava.
Fito Conesa. Visual artist.
Sonia Marco. Artist and cartoonist.
Helena Exquis. Photographer and author of fanzines.
Inés Tarradellas. Agitator of minds and emotions, not an artist, embryonic feminist, Clothing.