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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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