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Ignasi Aballí

 

   When Ignasi Aballí began his career in the late eighties, it was linked to the practice of painting. He soon took up the conceptual currents to question elements of painting itself such as representation, the support or the pictorial material in works in which the artist disappears: leaving pots of paint to dry or pictures in which the image is the result of the traces of the sun on the canvas. As a response to the crisis of representation in art or the impossibility of representing anything (common to writers with the same concerns such as Perec or Enrique Vila-Matas) he began series such as Mistakes, in which he blots out the surface of the picture with Tipp-Ex, or others done mechanically using newspaper clippings on the basis of the information they contain. In the exhibition Desapariciones (Disappearances) at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 2002 he introduced elements from the cinema with which he would embark on a broader reflection on the image in contemporary society. A twofold concern, with the image and the status of painting, shaped the itinerary of his exhibition at MACBA in 2005, which travelled to the Museo Serralves in Oporto and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. His work will be included in the official selection at the 2007 Venice Biennale.

David G. Torres


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Ignasi Aballí

Llistats (Cine) (Lists (Film)), 1997-2005

Photograph | Digital print on photographic paper

150 x 105 cm

IA.0008-

One of the main lines of work in Ignasi Aballí’s artistic practice has to do with time, with rhythm, with the consumption of images and information to which we are subjected. At times the artist as subject virtually disappears, leaving the accumulation of dust or the corrosive action of the sun on different materials bestow form on the work. At other times he compulsively collects, gathers together and inventories, piling up materials and information from various sources and configuring a gigantic archive. But, almost always, time dilates in the processes, proffering a patient attention that is the antithesis of the haste habitual in contemporary society.

This is the case with the listings, a series of works that Aballí has been making since 1997, when he began cutting out words and numbers from the newspapers he leafs through and reads every day. Starting from a ritual act, which many of us engage in daily when we read the papers, and occupying it as a personal working space, the listings follow different lines of development. On the one hand, in being archived and grouped on the basis of certain common characteristics they offer a different reading, a mental image and a new meaning. On the other, in relocating the information, detaching it from its original context and generating a new possibility of interpreting it, a movement of performative translation is generated.

Numbers and letters; these basic units of information are the raw material of the listings. The words tend to appear in relation to numbers that indicate quantities of things: people, deaths, money, the missing, years, immigrants, drugs… what happens when these enumerations are decontextualized and framed with other similar tallies, grouping them together? If we think of their source — the daily papers — we can think of them as little snippets of reality, tiny sections of social problems and issues ordered by subject, and in so doing generate a new scenario of understanding. Going a little further, if we once again group these lists by topic or interest, we can generate various kinds of genealogy. For example, the three pieces of the Cal Cego collection, which fall within the sphere of creation: artists, works and film; could we make this the basis for an analysis of how the creative field is perceived within a certain time frame?

Engaging with the listings raises questions about the way we assimilate the information, the speed at which this appears and disappears, the different possibilities of reading or even how certain topics are covered in the mass media. What is the relationship between language, numbers, the consumption of images and information, and reality? How is that reality transformed into numbers and letters? Trying to figure out issues like this can help us understand the world around us and, above all, how this world is codified, communicated and assimilated.

Juan Canela

 


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Ignasi Aballí

Llistats (Artistes) ) (Lists (Artists)), 1997-2005

Photograph | Digital print on photographic paper

150 x 105 cm

IA.0006-

One of the main lines of work in Ignasi Aballí’s artistic practice has to do with time, with rhythm, with the consumption of images and information to which we are subjected. At times the artist as subject virtually disappears, leaving the accumulation of dust or the corrosive action of the sun on different materials bestow form on the work. At other times he compulsively collects, gathers together and inventories, piling up materials and information from various sources and configuring a gigantic archive. But, almost always, time dilates in the processes, proffering a patient attention that is the antithesis of the haste habitual in contemporary society.
This is the case with the listings, a series of works that Aballí has been making since 1997, when he began cutting out words and numbers from the newspapers he leafs through and reads every day. Starting from a ritual act, which many of us engage in daily when we read the papers, and occupying it as a personal working space, the listings follow different lines of development. On the one hand, in being archived and grouped on the basis of certain common characteristics they offer a different reading, a mental image and a new meaning. On the other, in relocating the information, detaching it from its original context and generating a new possibility of interpreting it, a movement of performative translation is generated.

Numbers and letters; these basic units of information are the raw material of the listings. The words tend to appear in relation to numbers that indicate quantities of things: people, deaths, money, the missing, years, immigrants, drugs… what happens when these enumerations are decontextualized and framed with other similar tallies, grouping them together? If we think of their source — the daily papers — we can think of them as little snippets of reality, tiny sections of social problems and issues ordered by subject, and in so doing generate a new scenario of understanding. Going a little further, if we once again group these lists by topic or interest, we can generate various kinds of genealogy. For example, the three pieces of the Cal Cego collection, which fall within the sphere of creation: artists, works and film; could we make this the basis for an analysis of how the creative field is perceived within a certain time frame?

Engaging with the listings raises questions about the way we assimilate the information, the speed at which this appears and disappears, the different possibilities of reading or even how certain topics are covered in the mass media. What is the relationship between language, numbers, the consumption of images and information, and reality? How is that reality transformed into numbers and letters? Trying to figure out issues like this can help us understand the world around us and, above all, how this world is codified, communicated and assimilated.

Juan Canela


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Ignasi Aballí

Disparition (Disappearance), 2002

Video | DVD | b/w | subtitles |
160′

 

 

 

The video Disparition (Disappearance) is part of a large project by Ignasi Aballí about Georges Perec, in which the series of posters for the French writer’s film scripts has to be included. In this case, and almost in opposition to the posters that advertise films we shall never see, he has used a screenplay by Perec, Signe particulier: néant, to make a film. As if it were subtitles, the whole script appears on the lower part of the screen, whilst on the rest we see images taken from the press and the other media. They are static images that follow one another mechanically after a fade to black and which Perec’s text seems to accompany. Moreover, these scattered images keep one common quality: the faces of all the people who appear have been erased by Aballí.

The erasing of the faces retrieves the fundamental strategy of the book La Disparition upon which Aballí’s series is based. If in Perec’s book the letter “e” has disappeared, here what has disappeared is the faces. But beyond that, what has also disappeared is the reference of the image. The original caption with which these images appeared in the press is no longer there. Made equal, without faces and without the original captions, these photos remain empty and do not refer to anything. That nothingness (“néant”) is what is indicated by the title of Perec’s screenplay.

Instead of the original captions, the only guide to a reading is the words of Perec’s script. So that in fact there is a hiatus between image and writing. In that hiatus, as with the posters, Aballí offers the spectator a chance to construct the meaning so that he can create new relations for what is happening on screen.

A last element of faithfulness to Perec has to do with what he termed the “infraordinary” (related to Marcel Duchamp’s “infralight”). In short, this succession of images picked out from the press makes up a detailed and, at times, anecdotic description of reality. Like Perec, Aballí tends to collect, classify and order that scattering.

Only that the continuous succession tends to dissolve any particular feature of each image and abandon it to a no man’s land: the succession ends up making them all the same and leaving them stripped of meaning… they mean nothing.

The series Desapariciones has been particularly significant in Aballí’s career. If on the one hand he had already worked on silence, emptiness or nothingness in works which took up the idea of painting as mistake, or had to do with the impossibility of doing anything, in Desapariciones that reflection on the material of painting and the artist’s task takes a turn in order to speculate, through film, on the possibilities of images having meaning in a world saturated with them. A kind of reflection that goes beyond the framework of art and, with quite a few touches of humour, takes on existential tones, especially in the Listados series in which the ordering of numbers of deaths or people who have appeared in the newspapers erases the meaning and their specificity.

David G. Torres  


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Ignasi Aballí

Desapariciones (Disappearances), 2002

Installation | Prolaser digital print on photographic paper and light box
169 x 119 cm (x24)

IA.0001-
 

Desapariciones (Disappearances ) is a series of film posters. The common factor is that they “illustrate” or advertise films based on scripts by the French writer Georges Perec. Screenplays Perec wrote through his life, but which in many cases were never filmed. So these are mostly posters for non-existent films. Lastly, many of the images that appear on the posters and which in theory would lead to a film have been retrieved from earlier works or works in process by Ignasi Aballí.

Perec is one of Aballí’s references and shares quite a few concerns with him. The recourse to absence, which is evident in the novel La Disparition, written without the letter “e”, the most frequent one in French, ever occurring is also persistent in Aballí’s work: pictures corrected with Tipp-Ex, traces of supposed visitors on the walls… In Perec the questioning of narrative, the fact of recounting something, would correspond to a certain impossibility of representing something in Aballí’s case, or the crisis of representation taken to extremes in pictures in which there is nothing to see. And, linked to that, a tendency to self-impose mechanical elements for the production of the work: ordering lists and classifications or writing without one letter, in one case; and lists and more classifications or preparing a painting without ever doing it (leaving pots of dried paint) in the other.

Consistent with that absence, Aballí’s film posters in Desapariciones do not refer to any film, they refer to an absence, to a disappearance. And in that disappearance, following Marcel Duchamp in Le processus créatif to the letter, it is the spectator who finishes the work, the one who, in this case, makes a non-existent film.

But, one peculiarity, the images, in theory open to interpretation, speak: of more disappearances (a blank book, a poster that has fallen down); of the unmade film itself (an empty screen or rolls of film); of mistakes, empty spaces, corrections or classifications of what the title states (La mujer destrozada, The Destroyed Woman) enumerates the parts of the body). For non-existent films, Aballí has prepared posters that speak of that same disappearance.

Lastly, the preparation of the posters also implies the self-imposition of a mechanical task, an element found in Aballí’s and Perec’s work. It is mechanical insofar as he concentrates on illustrating Perec’s scripts, just as he collects newspaper clippings (Listados, Lists). In both cases the mechanical wards off expressive or subjective elements in the work and here exhibits re-representation as a possibility of representation. A strategy in tune with writers like Enrique Vila-Matas for whom writing consists of rewriting and making consists of remaking.

David G. Torres

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