In his previous works, Erick Beltrán had mainly focused on the reinterpretation and recycling of overinformation.
His contribution to the exhibitions 'Records and Habits' (Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 2006) and 'Alguns llibres d'artistes' (Galeria ProjecteSD, 2007), for example, had been based on the transformation of published information. Beltrán had also worked around this same idea in 2002, in an intervention in which he altered a series of newspapers and magazines so that the content appeared without punctuation marks, or, in the case of Dutch Het Parool, without the letter 'u' – which means 'you' in Dutch.
But interventions in existing publications are not the only means by which Erick Beltrán reflects on the legitimisation and uses of power in the publishing process. In 'The World Explained' – which was presented for the first time at the Biennial of São Paulo – the artist himself publishes the information he has compiled previously, in an ensemble process involving all the participants.
Setting up a printing press in the exhibition space and carrying out the process in real time, he puts together an encyclopaedia consisting of numerous theories of the world that come from the non-specialised knowledge of the average person on the street. Grounded in the idea of microhistory, he investigates and interprets the explanations that are given to him by anonymous people in response to an exercise in which they are asked to propose theories about how the world works, prompted by a series of questions and concepts proffered by the artist.
Out of the resulting clash and overlap of theories and concepts, Beltrán manages to publish a compendium of explanations of the world, which, given the nature of publishing, are legitimised by means of this institutionalised action. In Beltrán's own words, the project is, above all, based on 'research around the concept of publishing, with an emphasis on mechanisms that define, add value, reproduce, and distribute images in order to create political, economic and cultural discourses in contemporary society. It is about how publishing defines our world and the power relationships among different groups.'
The recent publishing of the volume has brought the research stage to a close by materialising all the information through its publication. It is in this final step that the author takes on the legitimising roles wielded by the publishing world in the implicit tasks of the selection, inclusion and exclusion of information.