Fundación Telefónica safeguards, researches and disseminates a collection of more than 70,000 pieces made up of works of different origins that, since their inception, have been grouped into three large sections: the Art Collection that preserves masterpieces from Cubist painting, contemporary photography and some of the most internationally recognised Spanish artists of the second half of the 20th century; Technological Heritage that holds a legacy of almost 100 years of telecommunications history; and the Historical Archive that brings together photographs, documents and films witnessing the implementation of telephony in Spain and the profound transformation that this meant.
The ‘Connections in the Telefónica Collection’ exhibition, which can be seen on the third floor of the Espacio Fundación Telefónica between 23 February and 25 September 2022, presents these three areas together for the first time, establishing dialogue and connecting ideas that allow us to contemplate this immensely rich heritage from a new perspective.
What has a painting by Juan Gris got to do with a telegraph receiver from the beginning of the 20th century? Or a work by the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat with a switchboard from 1928?
The relationship between modernity and the explosion in telecommunications in the first place or the importance of the voice in human expression in the second exemplify two of the many connections that enable a dialogue between pieces of art, technology and historical documents. Through almost 200 pieces, the #Connections exhibition immerses the spectator in a network of relationships that covers the company’s vast and relevant artistic, technological and historical works.
The collection brings together 90 pieces from the art collection, 36 pieces from the technological heritage and 50 pieces from the archive. It displays works from internationally renowned artists such as Juan Gris, Antoni Tàpies and Eduardo Chillida, that converse and coexist with unique items from Telefónica’s technological heritage, such as a short-wave radio transmitter from 1926, a Ruhmkorff coil or an L. M. Ericsson telephone from 1913 that was used in the first communication between Spain and America. The collection also includes photographs by Alonso documenting the construction of the Telefónica building on Gran Vía in 1929, the erection of the first telephone masts on Spanish territory or telephone directories, among others.
Throughout the six areas, ‘Connections in the Telefónica Collection’ sets out thematic relationships that go beyond the chronological narrative with the aim of rereading the works under new perspectives interlinking the evolution of technology with artistic creation. The Modern City, Communicating with the Invisible, Connecting Continents, Codes and Signals, Communication Failure and Breakdown, and Communicating with Voice and Gesture make up the six areas of the collection building a network of relationships with very diverse and heterogeneous objects that nevertheless seek to generate meaning and shared histories.
A selection of excerpts from articles printed in TELOS magazine, published by Fundación Telefónica since 1985 to develop knowledge in the sphere of Social Sciences, Communication and Culture in the Digital Society, complement the discourse of the exhibition proposal through the reflections of various authors.