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From sea to sea. Pilgrimage and post-modernity

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Foto: Andrea Manenti
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Curated by

Elisabet Pertegàs

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24 Oct 2019 –
23 Feb 2020

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Annex in the Montcada Venue's reception area

How to get there

“From sea to sea. Pilgrimage and post-modernity” narrates the travels of the anthropologist Elisabeth Pertegàs, who crossed the Iberian peninsula on foot from the Mediterranean sea to the Atlantic coast, along the Way of Saint James.

No other path compares to the signposting and infrastructure possibilities offered by the old Galician pilgrimage path, in terms of exploring all the connotations of the journey. The exhibition is dedicated to exploring and displaying a series of reflections constructed around the concept of “travel”.

The word travel often transports us to an idealised reality that has to do with spaces of personal freedom, but human beings have travelled and still travel for many reasons far removed from the image of contemporary personal travel of our times. Travelling is a universal practice that evokes a multifaceted figure with countless nuances to be taken into consideration. 

The means of transport and speed are features of travelling that are just as significant as our points of departure and destination, as they condition our perceptive experience of our surroundings. Above all, walking takes travelling back to its basic human dimension.

Walking is an immersive experience in a continuously transforming landscape. The designs of nature take no mercy on the walker: the day, the night, the cold, the heat, the sunshine and the rain punctuate our daily reality. The walker's pace creates a new way of seeing and organising one's thoughts. Treading the roadway or the architectural vestiges of the ancient Compostela pathway's humanised landscape gives many pilgrims the feeling of approaching some kind of ancestral knowledge.

From a Christian perspective, there is also a clear parallelism between the ritual structure of the pilgrimage and the course of life. Making our way along a path full of obstacles that requires us to make numerous sacrifices leads us to a glorious ending. Carrying our home with us means renouncing everything that is superfluous to our needs, leaving us with what is really essential. This purging of the banal, awareness of our fragility and the discovery of the welcome and hospitality voluntarily provided by strangers become wake-up calls that shake up mentalities and bring about reflection on the type of life we lead.

The fact that so many people from all over the world want to walk the age-old route (and often do so numerous times) has to do with the values that post-modernity has found in pilgrimage: a predominately urban population in contact with the natural world, Roman architecture that is still standing centuries later, a well-signposted route, the discovery of the limitations of one’s own body and the experience of being part of a united “community” with strong ties of solidarity are irresistible to a society where it is difficult to find anything permanent or trustworthy.

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