Fermín Jiménez Landa. Night shift

From: Friday, 30 January 2015

To: Sunday, 07 June 2015

Place: North Gallery

In the actions, public interventions, videos, installations and drawings he produces, Fermín Jiménez Landa explores processes of equivalence, inversion or exchange.

In the actions, public interventions, videos, installations and drawings he produces, Fermín Jiménez Landa explores processes of equivalence, inversion or exchange, contemplating the world from a point midway between the absurd and the sensible, the familiar and the iconoclastic, the empirical and the unverifiable.

See exhibition video at Vimeo

Night Shift features a collection of works brought together without a prior script, a group of pieces made expressly for the rooms in Artium and created or recreated according to free will but which gradually acquired a shared spirit almost by accident. They are connected by an immanent presence of the anthropomorphic, of the part that refers to the whole, a constant search for friction between worlds far apart; they are united by fever, nocturnality, commonplace illegality, a sense of humour, an interest in processes with a doubtful outcome, the invisible, the impossible attempt, the immaterial, a curiosity about the forms of social consensus, about the economy taken to its smallest extreme, the empiric and the poetic, the micro and the macro. The works have distant or close connections with traditional narrative, medicine, botany, classical dance, political violence, and they always on the point of losing their bearings, falling between euphoria and order.

Turno de noche (Night Shift) is precisely the work we will not be seeing. The white ceiling in the room is covered with stars that are also white and shine in the darkness, charged up by the light of the lighting that makes it possible to view the rest of the works in the daytime. The night shift is also the result of the mechanised capitalist economy, of the metaphysical opposite of that world in which machines were expected to work for humankind; that aberration whereby machines do not let humans sleep rather than vice versa. The night—a relative state in a globalised and spinning world—is associated with fear, the unknown, febrile states, in a literal and figurative sense, with inebriation and wiliness.

Fever is a defence mechanism against alien organisms that is regulated by the hypothalamus, the human body's thermostat. Fiebre (Fever) is also the title of an installation that runs, with varying degrees of density, throughout the entire space, a circuit of copper pipes through which water flows at 40 °C, a very precise temperature chosen somewhat at random since fever is not a precise degree of heat, as it depends on gender, age and weight and on the time of day and the way it is measured. The work seeks to compel people to think of fever and the body, the measure of our world and our architecture, using a structure that is not in the least bit anthropomorphic. When all is said and done, the body is the way we measure the space and understand our surroundings. This would be a body that is slightly sick or somewhat passionate. Think of the public touching the pipes—a kind of architectural arterial system—like someone feeling a complaining child's fever by placing the palm of their hand on his forehead.

Lined up on the floor are eight rolled-up dirty rugs entitled Cul de Sac. They spent some time buried at various indeterminate places around Spain. Fermín read the Spanish edition of The Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith as his light summer reading. The protagonist of this detective novel is himself a crime novelist. For various reasons, among them simple empirical testing, he rolls up a rug and buries it in the countryside. This leads to a series of real complications that stem from an imaginary action involving an all too anthropomorphic object. This kind of unhealthy curiosity leads Fermín to create another type of real fiction that might have caused problems for him as well. By experiencing this first hand, solving minor inconveniences like the interaction with people selling spades and rugs, and choosing discreet burial sites, he often thinks of the practices of Land Art and sculptural matters. There is a ninth rug that will remain buried indefinitely.

El lago de los cisnes (Swan Lake) consists of a large volume of dirty water. The only difference between it and any other water is that this water has been on an arduous and costly journey to get here from the lake at Novodevichy in Russia. This was a difficult undertaking at a logistical, financial and bureaucratic level and was hard to explain at customs. The public has to believe that this water comes from the lake that inspired Tchaikovsky to write Swan Lake, an act of faith just as if it were holy water, and fetishism over a liquid object that is without meaning on its own, separated from the rest. El lago de los cisnes is a landscape, a series of elements that depends on the observer's viewpoint. A lake is an accumulation of water but not of any particular water, since the water is engaged in a cycle. Yet after all this indefensible fetishism, we are left with the satisfaction of the truth. This room is full of swan lake.

There are various pairs of tables stacked one on top of another with marbles in between them, leaving them in a precarious state of balance. The title Ecuestre (Equestrian) could be because of the four legs of the table, that item of furniture made to suit mankind on which we place objects and elbows. Ecuestre is a knowing wink, a remembrance of defence tactics during demonstrations against charges by mounted police. The entire power of the state was countered by small toys that children play with; the political balance was destabilised thanks to an object that is in principle innocent. These tables are solid, somewhat old and somewhat dark.

Periplanómenos, the artist's favourite Greek word and one used to refer to a wandering being, is a collection of 65 drawings on small pieces of paper: bits of paper seemingly from notebooks, torn off other larger pieces of paper, taken out of pockets; bits of paper that have travelled erratically bearing drawings that are also nomadic, that travel from one idea to another. That is what happens with drawings, the most immediate and fruitful form of expression when you are wandering with your thoughts. In these sketches, we can see the seeds of some of the works in the exhibition, of others yet to come and of others still that will be left unresolved for ever.

There is a metal beam entitled La forma de la tierra (The Shape of the Earth) that runs through three rooms. Though seemingly straight, this beam curves at the same angle as the surface of the Earth. People used to believe that the Earth was flat when really they were standing on something more closely resembling a sphere, though they could not perceive this because of its size. Attempts have always been made to determine the shape and size of the plant, but the data regarding its extremely uneven surface make it impossible to arrive at anything other than a simplified Pythagorean idea that approximates the sphere that Eratosthenes calculated by observing the shadows of gnomons in 235 BC. With this small spatial insertion, the aim is to make visitors think of humankind's tendency to systematise and measure the world, and pay special sculptural and spatial attention to the Earth and the building in which this beam is strangely set.

In the corner, there is a Deshumidificador con semillas de Secuoya gigante escondidas (Dehumidifier with Hidden Giant Sequoia Seeds). An object that is neutral in appearance and which is used to alter indoor humidity is presented with a title that reveals that it contains giant sequoia seeds purchased on the internet. Even though we cannot see anything, we form two mental pictures: one of the nooks and crannies inside containing tiny seeds; and the other of lofty trees contained as an unlikely possibility. The final intangible image is that of the humidity of the room itself, which we ourselves are altering in tiny proportions.

A photograph Sin título (Untitled) comes from a series entitled “Rellenar todos los huecos de nata montada” (2008; Filling all the Gaps with Whipped Cream). This was the odd work out in the series, since no gaps are in fact being filled. Now it has been rescued by being displayed in isolation. Even so, it shares the same spirit as the other pieces in the series, which is that of carrying out an insignificant action in the urban context, a kind of gesture that does not quite change anything but which has a political dimension to it, perhaps because it takes place in the city. The work stemmed from the artist's fascination at that time with the physical reactions between gas and cream, the sculptural, the edible, the dirty and the clean.

Parpadeo (Blinking) is a light on the façade of the museum that blinks on and off ten times a minute. The regularity of human blinking depends on factors such as humidity, level of interest or drugs consumed, but it occurs on average ten times a minute. Once again, the artist takes an empirical measurement, a variable, a remote mathematical datum, to attempt to distance us from the human without quite breaking the bond, continually demanding an effort on the part of the observer's imagination.

Friday, January 30, 7 PM, guided visit with Fermín Jiménez Landa. Exclusive activity for Friends of Artium.
Friday, February 13, 7:30 PM, roundtable with the theatre company Pont Flotant, authors of the play Yo quiero ser Fermín Jiménez Landa. The artist will take part via Skype
End of inaugural week. Saturday, January 31 and Sunday, February 1, the YOU DECIDE entrance fee will be applied (you decide whether you pay and how much) to all visitors. Opening hours: from 11 AM to 8 PM, without interruption.
Free guided visits in February: Sunday 1 (Spanish), Wednesday 4 (Basque) and Sunday 15 (Basque).

Exhibition produced by Artium (Vitoria-Gasteiz)

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