Lower East Gallery, from 2012/05/04 to 2012/09/02
Aballí at his studio (video) www.ignasiaballi.net
This Is Not the End, the title of this exhibition of work by Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 1958), indicates the short-lived nature of the display, as well as the artist’s wish to avoid any temptation to present a retrospective of his body of work. The exhibition brings together various new pieces by the artist, alongside a selection of other works produced over the last ten years, most of which are part of larger series and address the artist’s main areas of interest (film, literature, colour, etc.). Arranged around the exhibition room as if they were a series of signs pointing the way along a silent underground, labyrinthine route, they constitute a closed and fixed universe. At the same time, however, they refer repeatedly to the conditions of the space in which the exhibition is held: its imperceptible changes in temperature, the dust that inevitably settles and the other minor incidents that reveal the passing of time.
First and foremost, however, This Is Not the End offers the spectator the experience of looking beyond appearances, of reading between the lines, of delving deeper: that which seems empty bears the marks of a presence; that which seems inert proves to be animated; and that which looks to be repeated changes constantly. As a result, Aballí’s work often points to the invisible and that which, amid the things, discourses and images that make up our everyday surroundings, exceeds its use and function, making them visible in all their materiality and in all their intangibility. At this point, that which has always seemed to be transparent becomes cloudy and opaque or reflects its own image. It is this that is responsible for the amazement that is the frequent response to Aballí’s works: the near-at-hand, the ordinary, the ‘infra-ordinary’, to use Georges Perec’s term, is in most cases that which is unable to make itself seen. And consequently, that which appears there, astonishing us anew. When Aballí photographs the space between the lines of a text, or a landscape completely shrouded in thick fog, he deceives our senses. He shows empty, seemingly unintelligible surfaces, while presenting the spectator with something outside the field of vision, a surface onto which the imaginary can be cast, just as John Cage saw “airports for lights, shadows and particles” in Robert Rauschenberg’s white paintings. There is an old saying that when the wise man points to the moon with his finger, the fool looks at the finger. In Aballí’s work, we find the counterpoint to this proverb, since the artist invites us to look in a single movement at both the moon and the finger pointing to it. An example illustrating this is the principle behind one of the films that Aballí has produced for the exhibition, in which the camera turns—during the screening of a film—towards the projector rather than the screen. The experience is both material (the exposing of the mechanics) and perceptive (optical confusion), with neither aspect accorded more importance than the other. Between the eye and the spirit, Aballí’s work does not say which is the finger and which the moon.