Shipwreck Studies at Hauser & Wirth Menorca

curated by Oriol Fontdevila as part of the exhibition After the Mediterranean

April - October 2023

‘Shipwright Francesc Preto built his last boat inland, with the intention of housing a naturist community. Arcalís creates archaeological fictions with the flotsam of her great grandfather’s shipwreck, using the traces of a utopia that is yet to become alive.’

Oriol Fontdevila, curator

Shipwreck Studies Shipwreck Studies is inspired by a collection of found objects that used to belong to my great-grandfather, Francesc Preto. A ship builder and a man who lived by a humanist philosophy of his own, his last project was the construction of a 26 metres long ship that was to become a vegetarian commune with its own allotment.

Just some years after its completion in the early eighties, the ship was burnt in unknown circumstances. Only a few traces of the hull’s structure, metal parts of Francesc’s old workshop and random everyday objects survived the fire.

The scattered fragments of glass, dried plants, ceramic vessels, recipients, balusters, binoculars, buoys, propellers, sea snails, soil; became the components of a series of temporary absurd sculptures.

Working with the remains of the unrealised utopia became a way of reflecting on my own experience growing up in the Menorcan landscape, in the past and in the present. A territory that - just like my great-grandad - in the most humbling way, has taught me about caring for that which I consider to be essential: the nexus between emotional and historical memory and the physical landscape.


The research of this project has been possible thanks to the funding of the Institute of Balearic Studies (IEB). Special thanks to Aina Pomar and Oriol Fontdevila for their thoughtfulness and conversation during the development of this project and to the team at Hauser & Wirth Menorca for supporting the production of Shipwreck Studies.


Wine-dark Sea 
La Mar Grisa
(images of the sea)
gelatin silver handprints
123cm x 155cm

Vessel I (a variation)
Vessel II
Vessel XI

gelatin silver handprints
35cm x 40cm

Still life with a snail and a spoon
Drimia Maritima with supports

gelatin silver handprints
13,5cm x 11cm
 (frame size 46cm x 37cm)

Paco Preto building his last ship, 1981
colour picture, family archive (nfs)
11cm x 8cm

Whale womb eye hull
unframed, ink on paper
15cm x 21cm

Shipwreck Studies, Hauser & Wirth Menorca (April - October 2023)

Installation pictures by Roberto Ruiz