THE REMAINS OF A GESTURE
Solo exhibition at RocíoSantaCruzART.

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The word R E S Q U I C I O, has several meanings in Spanish. It can refer to a thin fissure; it can indicate a glimmer of light like a glimpse of understanding; and it can allude to a remainder, a ruin or a rest of something left behind. Words can leave a trace or open a crack, as if conscience could be ploughed, as if the furrow marked by its profound ability to conform reality could groove the surface of though.

“Every conscience is a threshold”
Gilles Deleuze, The Fold.

There are some words able to invent other worlds. Words which cannot be (yet) found in the dictionary. The dictionary is a strict compendium of rules, sometimes a too rigid mechanism, unable to reflect the vivid life of language as it changes, as it incorporates new words and meanings. The aim and audacity is to introduce some words that I feel them essential to my world. The purpose is to open a crevice, as much as to question the conceptual notion of “rest”.

Warning: the word doledad could not be found in the dictionary. Neither do the words: nubledad, encyclosophy, cumulolimbo... I projected how it would be to have them perfectly inserted in its pertinent place, in the exact page, in the precise alphabetical order. It is an exercise of imagination, of conception.

The now canonic work One and three chairs, by Joseph Kosuth, states three realities to the same concept and shows its different formal representations: the object, its image, and its written definition. However, what happens when the proposal is not to explore the evidence of this multiplied reality of language but to open a breach and refute the vocabulary? What occurs when the defiance is to disrupt the neutral page to publicly offer an intimate word to the world?

In front of the conceptual proposal of Kosuth, I would like to suggest the term: concepcional: that is, a new origin. It moves the emphasis to the conjunction of different elements in creativity, in Art. It focuses on the fecundity of meanings. It puts something new in this world. So the very centre of the so called concepcional is a project on how to materialize a dictionary of very personal and new terms. As once stated Vila Matas is his description of the portable literature:

“...so he is so discontented with encyclopedias that he is doing his own one for personal use. And I think he is doing the right thing, after all, Schopenhauer for example, was so dissatisfied with histories of philosophy, that he did his own one also for personal use”. Enrique Vila-Matas, Historia abreviada de la literatura portátil, 1985.

Next step was to imagine a proper definition, projected on a space that simulates the real emplacement of the word in the dictionary. This exercise refutes a blank and questions the canonical language. It is a germ appearing in the surface of a page. What will have happened if, instead of the term chair, Kosuth had used the term solitude? What image would be hanging instead? What object would be placed in front? The representation of the intangible causes serious problems to the conceptual ideology.

Nowadays, contemporary art practices are so called conceptual. This could be right in the sense that the limits of what is considered Art expands on every proposal. But it collides with the idea of no physical residue of artworks, totally immersed in big costs productions and market trends.

If we refer to the foundational manifesto, Art after Philosophy, we can find this and several aspects:

“With the unassisted Ready-made, art changed its focus from the form of the language to what was being said. Which means that it changed the nature of art from a question of morphology to a question of function. This change – one from “appearance” to “conception” – was the beginning of “modern” art and the beginning of conceptual art. All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually.

The “value” of particular artists after Duchamp can be weighed according to how much they questioned the nature of art; which is another way of saying “what they added to the conception of art” or what wasn’t there before they started. Artists question the nature of art by presenting new propositions as to art’s nature”. Joseph Kosuth, Art after Philosophy, 1969.

Art was countered with no contours. It was defined as a kind of mental operation with no physical residues. A transparent procedure transgressing its own proper nature and limits. The perfect intellectual endeavour and natural successor of philosophy. But even in this simple gesture of aligning the three realities of language, a conceptual work acquires a certain form.

From the defiance of the limits emerges the very close evidence of its abnormality. There is a perpetual quest that throws more uncertainties than certainties to its very nature. Although art can question not only its own constitution but also other conterminous constitutions. Questioning is its very DNA. And precisely this can be the principal reason why the adjective conceptual still applies to artists these days. But it rather seems that the word conceptual today demarcates an activity of the mind in order to provide content and to justify, most of the times, its unintelligibility.

The appellative concepcional, on the other hand, is a direct derivation of conception —same word that Kosuth is using in his essay— and seems to move towards and activity that requires conjunction, fertilisation; that is, more than one element getting together and bringing something new to the world. It implies cooperation and mutual influence, something that is not yet admitted in the art world: creativity is a chain, a shared force.

A single drop of watercolour has fallen in the middle of a white sheet of paper. It can be understood as simple gesture or an accident with a particular shape. Anyhow, this shape is the result of the interaction between the watercolour and the wrong paper: a paper intended to be used in engraving techniques rather that watercolour painting. This paper has the aim to disseminate the humidity all around, so when hit by the watercolour the result is a nervation of colour in the paper fibres. The internal structure of the paper and the unsuitable conjunction in between both elements is indispensable for the development of the form. Consequently, is this a formal work or a conceptual work?

Susan Guber deals with this question in her essay The Blank Page, from a very specific point of view. Guber emphasizes the importance of the unnoticed white page in the creative process and its identification with female position. The feminine and the blankness is the raw material where to place the inscription of the masculine stroke. Exactly like that white sheet of paper that receives a colour drop.

All the the works present in this exhibition deal with whiteness, with the support that speaks for itself.

“The blank page contains all stories in no story”.

There is a tendency to dilute words in the page, so it overcomes the purpose of being just a support. The page bends and folds so it states its own language of lights and shadows, revelations and concealments. It talks by itself.

In the work Desleído (Dissolved/Disread), the rumour of the text appears as an interference. A kind of scum of language floating above the surface of the page. Distorted lines, illegible lines, rolled up pieces of paper. An organism in the height of decomposition. Through the filter of the body, the text can be assimilated and dissolved, can leave a trace in the innards, a seed ready to germinate.

In the series Solapado (Overlapped), we can perceive a construction of voids, some blank pages overlapping in abstract compositions, where some fragments of letters and words remain and can be seen slightly. Courtesy pages, title pages, are the prelude of something that quite never arrives to show up.

In the work Siempre jamás (Always never), we are lost in the enormity of the paper where we can perceive a line that divides the space. An horizon where some signs stand up and remain illegible. As if two gradients had come to a point where voice collides and reverberates. The upper half of the text contains enough clues to continue reading. The lower half, on the contrary, neutralizes any intention of deciphering whatsoever. Two lower halves, confronted, sew a never ending lack of communication. This confrontation folds complexity to irrelevance, while the present never faces dialog and understanding. As if politicians were installed in this imaginary world of Neverland, where they denial any negotiation and responsibility, installed with no limits in the land of contradiction. The land of always never.

The folded text seems to slide to the very entrails of the page. The concept of sliding was proposed by Gilles Deleuze, stating that it is a movement that transfers the surface to the depths, and depth to the surface. Two opposite forces in opposite directions. The surface and its most visible skin —the language— slides to the very innards of the whiteness. While the most profound arises to the surface, and this surface bends and folds and pleats.

The work Inherencia (Inherence) corresponds to a set of porcelain made pages where we can perceive the impulse for curvature, as if those pages were expressing for themselves, with no need of words. Further on, the porcelain pages of Escribanía (The profession and the place to write) develop the folding to baroque limits; that is to say, adding the complexity of shades and nuances. The relief of the ceramic corresponds to the in and outs of the text. The text is the folding of the surface. Folding is the writing.

“There are those who want a text (an art, a painting) without a shadow, without the “dominant ideology”, but this is to want a text without fecundity, without productivity, a sterile text”. Roland Barthes, The pleasure of text, 1973.

Shades are the precious fecundity in art. Hélène Cixous describes brilliantly well the inner feeling of facing writing and the eagerness it requires. There is an inherent tension in between what is revealed and what is left in shadow.

“Literature owns its life to Secret, its mission is overwhelming. From the very moment we start writing to exhume, we secrete the secret. Hélène Cixous, La llengua m'és l'únic refugi, 2009.

The page is a body that cherishes and secretes. The text folds the surface of a page, the multiplicity of folds can be read, as the complexity of human surface needs these interstices to express.