The first time I met Eva Rowson she was preparing cocktails with her sparkling disposition, together with Simon Asencio for their presentation as BAR’s project residents. By then, I was still not aware of the importance of food and drinks in her curatorial and artistic practice, as hospitality tools that frequently act without being noticed. Soon after, we started ‘The Company She Keeps’ reading group, featuring a book by Céline Condorelli in conversation with some friends of hers on female friendship and befriending. Our collective gatherings took place in different locations around Barcelona, including domestic and public spaces. While this was happening, la musea started to emerge in form of a collaborative project impulsed by Eva as an attempt to re-think the museum from a transfeminist perspective. In la musea domestic work within the institution is as important as theory and discourse. La musea is also an institution that can move, feel and think by itself. But it is a ‘she’ and she is in fact a ‘we’. La musea’s curatorial strategy includes the sink and the oven among her fundamental tools. Her key practices are hospitality, work, collaboration, embodied knowledges, practice, economics or administration. This not yet institutionalized institution appeared as a possible fiction that eventually became real. Despite being somehow placeless, she can occur in many spaces and through many bodies. This time la musea was embodied by Adrian Schindler, astrology, Ariadna Guiteras, Ariadna Rodriguez, BAR project, cashew butter, Caterina Almirall, circlusion, Encarna’s recipe, espresso martinis, Eulàlia Rovira, Eva Rowson, fermented ginger beer, Fundació Tàpies, Jordi Ferreiro, kimchi, nyamnyam, Pou de la Figuera, Priscila Clementti, red breakfast cup, ‘School Without End’, seven carpets, Simon Asencio, six lamps, Sonia Fernández Pan, three heaters, Ursula K. Le Guin, Virginia Woolf and many more. In any case, la musea cannot be fully explained in words.
While la musea was still fermenting herself, I invited Eva Rowson to talk about her practice and the projects she is part of. Together with her partner Luke Drozd, they run 38b since 2010, an art space located in their own house in Peckham, London. Rather than a gallery within a domestic space, 38b is a place to test things collectively. With Andrea Francke, she also started ‘Wish you’d been here’, which hosts and organizes parties ‘in hope and not fear’, as its statement claims. In their parties, a barbecue becomes a pedagogical tool and having fun turns out to be the best possible documentation.
There are many things that I’ve learned and experienced spending time and sharing chocolate with Eva Rowson. Most of them cannot be told here, others are hints to be explored in the future, and some others are condensed in short sentences, as the one that follows: “there are not failures, just unexpected discoveries”.
*Disclaimer: esnorquel headquarters are located under a printing office. It could be an effect of la musea’s ethos that printing noises strongly appeared while we were recording podcasts during her process. We apologize for the hearing inconveniences.
Many thanks to Carolina Jiménez for her support with English.