La Tabacalera

I was invited by the Es Baluard Museum and the Institut d´Estudis Baleàrics (IEB) to the Tabacalera in Madrid on the 20th February 2017. My work of videoart ¨¨Logbook¨ was alongside the artists Natxa Pomar and Marta Pujades from the artists group Les Clinques. I prepared a presentation about the Logbook project and exhibtion and was interviewed with Marta Pujades about our projects and participation in Les Cliniques. Piedad Solans was commissioned by the museum to write a critical text connecting our work in Spanish, which was presented at the conference, and a sample of that text is translated below into English.

 

The ideology of technocracy and its imaginary configurations on the screens show a world that is produced at every moment. A superficial world, where unrelated events jump and repeat themselves randomly and swiftly without continuity. Faces, voices and bodies appear and disappear without a trace, ravenously exceeded, in a disposable consumption to use and throw, by the following event. Everything is shown, mixed, fragmented, publicized and, paradoxically, hidden. The transparency, proclaimed by the system as "truth", is nothing more than the liquid matter in which things dissolve. A world full of messages, quotations and anecdotal stories, which are mundane, catastrophic, pathetic, tragic or trivial, that emerge from nothing and are immersed in emptiness. Disorganized stories in the random structure of programs and changing hypertexts that for a second arise, shine and dissolve away on the coloured surfaces of networks and media. As in a talk show, everything happens and nothing takes place; Spectators do not need their own thoughts. Its incapacity for elaboration and significance generates an indigestible reality and produces that which the Italian philosopher Franco Berardi, Bifo, has called intoxication, that is to say, an information intoxication: an excess of semiotic codes, images and tecno-linguistic configurations of which there is no possibility of "disconnecting" oneself from and that it is impossible to assimilate, which produces a collapse both in perception and in the meanings as in the psychosocial knowledge of reality. On the other hand, the mythologies and romantic and modern concepts of accumulation and depth of history and collective culture, threaded in a linear and unalterable time that sinks its roots in remote past, ideally rescued from disappearance through texts, documents, images, ruins and relics, has resulted in the cataloguing, fossilization and celebration of history, architecture and art as a monument, glorifying "man", as Giorgio Agamben would say, "the more he reduces it to an object."

Natasha Hall and Marta Pujades being interviewed by Javier Duero at the Tabacalera in Madrid.

However, the transmission of memory and its testimonies, words, silences and voices, desire, sexuality and emotional relationships, creativity, the struggles, achievements and lives of the people who built and built history and the sociocognitive mind, for Natasha Hall (London, 1974), Natxa Pomar (Palma, 1988) and Marta Pujades (Palma, 1990), are moved by stories that are not those of mainstream time, of the objectified person or converted into merchandise of a television program show. The artistic trajectory of the three artists is intertwined in synergistic and open works that, although they operate with different registers, perceptions and scenarios, converge in a conception common to all of them: the emergence of the signs of the time and collective memory, its reappearance in the real people of the present and the evocation and collaboration they carry out in their works with the women and men who lived and live in Mallorca, inviting them to recall silent or missing chronicles, to listen to feelings and emotions concealed or forbidden, to walk forgotten paths of olive groves and timeless geological formations and to unearth the debris and windows of buildings that after the civil war imprisoned other women and men. Natasha Hall, Natxa Pomar and Marta Pujades rummage in the deposits of art, landscape, the city, of the people and history of Mallorca and find bodies of morbid and disturbing beauty, bodies dreamed of in solitary thoughts and walks, innocent and terrified bodies who are thrown into the void and crash against a soil that no longer exists materially and survives in the memory of the civil war and post war next to many ditches on the island, covered by asphalt. Distant or forgotten histories of the sea, landscape, art and Mediterranean cultures, which link Greece and Austria, Mallorca and the city of Palma, celebrated or buried in and by the Island, that return and resurface, from the images, the writings and the letters, in the figures and real conversations that inhabited and inhabit the present, summoned by the artists to show that the narration and its characters, although invisible, show their analogical continuity in a genealogy and a cognitive awakening that neither by the repression, neither by silence nor by fashions, can be destroyed. Despite attempts to. They burst through the cracks, interrogate us, assault us and suspend themselves facing our stunned eyes, because, as demonstrated by the three artists in works that are also a temporary continuum and a work in progress, the story never ended.

Stories that does not conclude because, as Walter Benjamin pointed out, alluding to the illusion of change and fashion, the formal mobility of signs does not correspond to the real mobility of the social, political and cultural structures, and the continuous change masks a profound social inertia. And it is this social inertia that breaks in the works of Natasha Hall, Natxa Pomar and Marta Pujades, resisting the gravity and causality of a time considered past and hence, ideologically hidden, which is, nevertheless, the fabric that weaves the plots of their youth and its present and democratic future. Because, this time is not transcendental but social and political and today, in the thinking of the artists, has to do with democracy. Their bases, as they have understood and raise in their artistic practice, were shaped by the history, ideals and anthropological, scientific, cultural and patriarchal values of Europe, in the archaism of civil wars and fascist dictatorships and as in the case of the Archduke Luis Salvador, in the romantic and illustrated figure of the thinker and the traveller and the immense culture of the European aristocratic elites, who discovered in Mallorca the idyll and the myth of a pure nature and the illusion of an untrampled world.

Thus, the video Logbook (2014) by Natasha Hall, artist and geographer, refers to that which resurfaces and is ideally transferred to the action and resolution of the problems of the present. It belongs to the project titled Logbook: Natasha Hall and her Crew, a tribute to the figure of the Archduke Louis Salvador of Austria, author of Die Balearen, whose pages he studied and celebrated the culture and landscape of the Balearic Islands in the 19th century and beginning of the twentieth century, not yet transformed by tourism or by the action of climate change and the rising sea level that affects the appearance of its coasts. As the artist suggests, "perhaps by recognizing the Archduke as an ambassador of peace, in order to appreciate cultural differences and to focus on knowledge, science and travel, we can resolve our global differences so that real change can spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond". In this way, Sa Foradada, that, according to Natasha Hall's geographical research "appears on the ancient maps of the island and can be described as a distinctive feature, a centrifugal image and ultimately a Mediterranean axis mundi" together with Miramar (where the Archduke rebuilt the chapel of the Trinity, in the monastery founded by the monk, writer, scientist and mystic Ramon Llull), became for the artist, a hundred years after the death of the archduke, in a symbol of endurance. The dramatics and beauty of its cliffs, its geological formations dating back millions of years and the anthropology of the landscape inspire Natasha Hall to generate multiple links and interconnections between the figure and the times of the Archduke with people of the present regardless of chronological and linear time: the time of the thought and the glance, of the footprints and the paths that are returned to be travelled by our reflections, our eyes and our footsteps. Inspired by Japanese poetry and Haiku by Japanese poet Matsuo Bashu (1644-1694), Hall tries to "not follow the four steps of ancient men, but to seek what they searched for, as a silent conversation between a ghost and a ghost-to-be. " Or, quoting Anselm Kiefer, the conscience of one who "when he has a piece of asphalt in his hand, is also aware of the people who have walked on it in the street since he was formed."

 

This anthropological time, connected with things, with the materials and the phantoms of the landscape, shows us death, not as an emptiness, but as an endless multiplication of expanded, contracted, compressed resonances that do not disappear but, as In closed drawers, are hidden to reappear when they are discovered, opened, touched, contemplated. Thus, for Natasha Hall, art and painting become the means of revelation and illumination for consciousness: "A study of eternity against the flow of time, through which I would like to try to capture the essence of nature, devoting my time to listening to the whispered and unspoken messages of the landscape. As I walk along the same paths, repeating the steps of the Archduke, Ramon Llull and other significant figures already forgotten, I will express an eternal appreciation to the landscape.

 

Like the works, this text does not conclude. It urges the work of artists among themselves, in a time, a place and a theoretical fabric, if we pursue the concept and etymology of the word theory as "the knowledge that is revealed through the gaze", and theoros, or theoretical, "whoever travels, looks and discovers the world". Travels and journeys, maps and displacements, voices and figures where the real and the imaginary are juxtaposed, superimposed and constantly reworked in space and time, in the openness to changing, interrelated and dynamic perspectives of the cognitive mind and psychosocial history. They are built of remnants, of murmurs, of forgetfulness, or, as Felix Guattari would write in schizoanalytiques Cartographies, of lapses, of faulty acts, of "symptoms like birds that knock at the window. It is not a matter of interpreting them, but rather of identifying their trajectory, to see whether they can serve as indicators of new universes of reference, capable of acquiring sufficient consistency to reverse the situation. Reverse, yes, the situation.

 

Piedad Solans 2016