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Joan Brossa

La clau de la clau (The Key of the Key), 1989

Object poem
8 x 20 x 20 cm
JB.0001-


In his last years, Brossa received a considerable number of awards and commissions, also in the visual field, which encouraged him to design new poem-objects. A number of the poet’s ideas that had been left visually unresolved were materialized, together with new flights of imagination, and were presented on the art circuit, especially through the Miguel Marcos gallery.

 
Although not all of these late objects are easy to connect with Brossa’s earlier work, this is not the case with The Key to the Key, a piece that takes us back to some of the metalinguistic games in which so many of the poet’s literary, theatrical, visual and objectual pieces engage. In this instance the game consists in the disparity between the linguistic register and the visual register. The title of the work is no more — and no less — than a combination of alliteration and homonymy: the statement is alliterated, repeating the same words, but to emphasize that the word and its equivalents in most Western languages have different meanings​​: a key opens a door, and a key can also open other things. We might say that the physical key affords access to the knowledge needed to understand something.


Brossa had played with the meanings of the word ‘key’ in a well-known visual poem, conceived in 1971 and materialized in 1982, in which the teeth or bitings of the key are replaced by letters of the alphabet. In this case, then, the poet is suggesting that these primary particles of signification give access — open the door — to language and thus to knowledge. There seems to be a reference here to Wittgenstein and the famous phrase in the Tractatus, ‘The limits of language mean the limits of my world,’ (5.62). We should not forget that Brossa had absolute faith in the possibilities (and also the impossibilities) of verbal language.


In the 1989 piece Brossa returns to the play of meanings allowed by the word ‘key’. The object itself is a demonstration of the double articulation of language: in this case, of objectual language: a key to unlock is needed another key and so on in infinite regress. It is not absurd to suggest that the piece would have worked without a title: the image is explicit enough for the viewer to capture the visual homophony of a key that opens the lock of another key, which in turn opens another lock… But in common with other artists — Joseph Kosuth, for example — Brossa is so attached to the expressive possibilities of language — in this case, to the expressive possibilities of verbal punning — that he ends up overdetermining the image with a title that precludes any kind of distraction: the key to the key.

Joan M. Minguet


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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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