© XAVIER RIBAS - NITRATE exhibition at MACBA, June 2014 - Installation views of the work NITRATE [2010-1024] [Installation photographs: Marc Roig]


Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], June 2014



"Since 2009, Xavier Ribas has devoted his photographic practice to looking into the natural history of nitrate. Unlike his earlier series, in which the landscape anchored the artist’s documentary and empirical engagement, nitrate unfurls a vast geography impossible for a strictly photographic vision to encompass. Nitrate takes the form of an essay that explores the political and geological history of Chile, linking it with flows of finance and consumption in Europe, in such a way that the geography of this material gives form to a colonial structure. The representation of this system of extraction of natural resources that began in the late nineteenth century, and that we now dare to label an extractionist modernity, has called for a documentary dispositive that requalifies the role of photography.

In this body of work, practices relating to various institutions and interests have come together, such as the research in libraries and archives, interviews and fieldwork trips, as well as the gathering of miscellaneous materials. This confluence of knowledges, methods and modes of communication that spills over the bounds of photography as a medium, impels us to consider Nitrate as a documentary dispositive, that is to say, a collection of works that can be read both as an interrelated whole and autonomously. Most of the works comprising Nitrate include the photographic image alongside archival images, data, reports, news items, inventories, lists and even objects, proof that the documentary dispositive can take any form except that of a photographic genre tending to fixate meaning."

Carles Guerra, "Unfiolding the Documentary Dispositive". Published in Xavier Ribas, Nitrate. MACBA, Barcelona 2014


Nitrate was produced as part of the AHRC funded project Traces of Nitrate. Mining History and Photography Between Britain and Chile, developed at the University of Brighton in collaboration with historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Ignacio Acosta.

































Installation photographs from the exhibition Nirate at Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona [MACBA], June 2014. © Marc Roig and Xavier Ribas


Related files

Exhibition press release [En] [Cat] [Cast]
Carles Guerra, "Unfolding the Documentary Dispositive". In Xavier Ribas, Nitrate. Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona 2014 [En] [Cast]
Laura Vallés, "Invisible Traces: On Xavier Ribas's Nitrate". CONCRETA, 2015 [En] [Cast]. Download PDF [En] [Cast]
Rye Dag Holmboe, "Xavier Ribas: Nitrate". Apollo Magazine, 2014 [En]
Noèlia Hernández, "Afán explorador". La Vanguardia/Culturas 17.07.2014 [Cast]
Alberto Martín, "Spatialities". In Xavier Ribas Nitrate, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona 2014 [En] [Cast]
Xavier Ribas, "Nitrat de Xile". La Vanguardia/Culturas 01.01.2014 [Cat]
Xavier Ribas and Louise Purbrick, "Rastres de nitrat". Quadern de les Lletres i de les Arts, No. 17, May. Barcelona 2014 [Cat]
David G. Torres, "Xavier Ribas, geografía concreta". El Cultural 05.09.2014 [Cast]
Simon Denison, Nitrate. Review of the exhibition at the Bluecoat, June 2015 [En]
Ángela Molina, "La trama visual de la resistencia". El País/Babelia 02.05.2015 [Cast]
Max Andrews, "Xavier Ribas. ProjecteSD", Barcelona. Frieze No. 173, London 2015 [En]
Marta Dahó, Fotografías en Cuanto Espacio Público. Revista de Estudis Globales y Arte Contemporáneo, Vol 3, Núm 1, 2015 [Cast]
Xavier Ribas, Nitrate. In Teresa Blanch (ed), Topografías Invisibles. Estrategias críticas entre arte y geografía. Universitat de Barcelona, 2015, p-276-301 [En]
Marta Dahó, Landscape and the Geographic Turn In Photographic Practice. Photographies Vol 12, no. 2, pp.221-248, 2019 [En]
Lutsky K, Salooje O, Scott EE, Viscosity—Mobilizing Materialities. University of Minnesota, 2019