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Exhibition

Graphic Constellation

Young Authors of Avant-garde Comics

The exhibition is a tour through the universes of nine young female authors, and an exploration of all the changes that have radically modified the comics system, and have enabled the emergence of a constellation of avant-garde authors that combines the darkness of the uncertain present and future with the vitality of radiant colourism.

From the second decade of the 21st century, there have been staggered works published by very young female authors, most born from the 1990s onwards. They share the expression of the same discontent and a desire to create a work in which graphic art and experimentation form the main structural element.

This constellation of independent but interrelated authors, who are drawn to each other, is the heir of their zeitgeist, which they have converted into the reason for their work. We could define this spirit of the time as that of the precarity suffered by the Millennial Generation, not only with regard to the economic and labour aspect, but also the emotional and sentimental one. The prolonged situation of uncertainty, which now seems established and has all the appearance of having become the new life model of the current economic order, is reflected in the work of these artists through a resigned pessimism present in the comics of each of them.

This pessimism may be manifested through traditionalism, ironic portrayal, escapism or nightmares and dystopia. In any event, they form part of a generation that is not waging war, that is not aggressive in the expression of its frustration or of its rage, that above all is simply trying to survive. For this reason, anxiety and insecurity are so present in their work, besides the problems and frustrations derived from lack of communication, despite living in a society hyperconnected by technology, which is omnipresent and threatening.

At the same time, their vitality is translated into a burst of colour and visual force. The shared aesthetic denotes the proximity with graphic design, which contrasts with previous crops of alternative authors. As hybrid creators who combine comics with illustration, advertising and/or graphic design, their works reinforce each other ceaselessly and cannot be valued correctly without bearing these interconnections in mind. They have grown up with manga, despite it not being evident in their works, and with animation – above all that of the 1990s originating from the USA – which often becomes an aspirational goal, beyond being a source of inspiration.

The first steps, which will define the course of their careers, at least in the more initial stages, are taken at self-publishing salons and festivals (Graf, Tenderete Fest, etc.), promoted by the authors themselves, and these have proliferated from 2010 onwards since they did not feel comfortable with the traditional salons. It is in these spaces where authors see the creation of comics as a possible horizon, they get to know other works and authors, they take inspiration, they establish contacts and relationships for exchange, create networks and disseminate their work.

Consequently, self-publishing is key in the training and growth of these authors, many of whom continue self-publishing even after having managed to publish regularly with publishing companies. Self-publishing gives them freedom and enables them to experiment, as well as have total control over the process relating to editorial production. The novelty of this phenomenon lies in the fact that it has ceased to be a prior step to traditional publishing, to become another channel that coexists with that of traditional publishing.

The social media networks, above all the more visual ones such as Instagram, have also been fundamental for inspiring, relating and disseminating, both works and the authors themselves, some of them very aware of the need for a certain cult following in order to achieve a position in such a competitive world.

Other elements, such as the appearance of a new collection of publishers, also from the Millennial Generation, with a sensitivity different to that of the previous generation of publishers originating from the boom in adult comics in the 1980s, and the professionalisation of the comic sector, with the consequent incorporation of women into the publishing structures and authorship, have been key for the appearance of this constellation of female authors.

“Graphic Constellation” is simultaneously a tour through the universes (in plural due to their hybrid nature) of these young female authors, and an exploration of all the changes that have radically modified the comics system in Spain and in Catalonia, and have enabled the emergence of a constellation of avant-garde authors that skilfully combines the darkness of the uncertain present and future with the vitality of radiant colourism.

Curator: Montserrat Terrones

Participants: Bàrbara Alca, Marta Cartu, Genie Espinosa, Ana Galvañ, Nadia Hafid, Conxita Herrero, María Medem, Miriam Persand and Roberta Vázquez

 

Programme of activities