Javier Arbizu_An elusive reference point_03/16/19_05/04/19_Dossier
“So what if [the poet] is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!”
Illuminations, Arthur Rimbaud
A reference point that is hard to reach. Like trying to get to the horizon, that ever-distant line. Like trying to decipher another’s thoughts, that person who has been at our side for some time, whose unfathomable depth we will surprisingly never come to know. The unknown awaiting to be revealed. How might we decipher the work of a visual artist who expresses and exhibits for us the result of a working process gathering years and experiences? Through its forms, materials and arrangement in space, we enter by means of shared clues into a complex creative universe of the artist’s own, built up over years and condensed into a single gesture, which is now apparently indecipherable. Before us we see objects that function like a time capsule encompassing an experience, a life, many references, overlapping and eclipsing each other. Shared references that make up part of this shared horizon, that same sea we swim and dialogue in, part of an infinite conversation, a sea which will live on long after the end of our existence.
Distances, space and time. The chronological time that presents events to us is a linear stage, upon which we can now find mere remains, empty, inert shells, which speak to us of what will live on when we do not. Perhaps just a shadow of what we once were, as the rest—skin, body, blood, eyes, tongue, heart—has all disappeared. Materials that evolve in constant transformation, which like the bismuth used in the mould for these extremities, fossilized in the moment of action, are as fragile as our very existence. Yet this will not stop them from living on after we are gone, miraculously. This strange material, which irradiates light and seems to shatter as soon as we look at it, will be the last to be extinguished after a life estimated at some twenty trillion years, longer than the age of the universe. What will be left of us when we have died? What will survive if fire and lava scorch our bodies, like they did to the citizens of ancient Pompeii? Arbizu’s practice “puts-into-work and embodies places”, and thus makes it possible to explore notions that speak to us of human habitation and the permanence of things that concern and involve the human species. A gaze into the past that sends questions into the future, once again towards that apparently distant horizon we reach out to every day and step by step, however modestly. In our new contemporary, hyper-technological imaginary realm, it is dominated by the idea of a coming middle ages, a step backward into darkness again, faced with the terror and paralysis of our bodies against the coming financial apocalypse or final environmental disaster or newest volcanic eruption. Everything moves, the tectonic plates we have settled upon, what we call civilization. Everything is always and forever focused towards dusk, to the extinction of everything known.
“Life is horizontal, just one thing after another, a conveyer belt shuffling us toward us toward the horizon. But history, the view from the departing spacecraft, is different… History and the eye have a profound wrangle at the center of this “constant” we call tradition … Indeed, tradition itself, as the spacecraft withdraws, looks like another piece of bric-a-brac on the coffee table—no more than a kinetic assemblage glued together with reproductions, powered by little mythic motors and sporting tiny models of museums. And in its midst, one notices an evenly lighted “cell” that appears crucial to making the thing work: the gallery space.”
Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space
There is always an origin, an immortal, indestructible Apeiron, neither engendered nor perishable, from which all things are engendered. Everything returns, in a vital, vicious circle. All poems, as wise Rimbaud argues in his Illuminations, “would still be Greek poetry”, regardless of their contemporaneity. We shall always return. Always. “All ancient poetry ended in Greek poetry, harmonious life. –From Greece to the Romantic movement—Middle Ages—there are writers and versifiers…It is all rhymed prose, a game, degradation and glory of countless idiotic generations. It has lasted two thousand years! If old imbeciles had not discovered only the false meaning of the Ego, we would not have to sweep away those millions of skeletons which, for time immemorial! have accumulated the results of their one-eyed intellects by claiming to be the authors!”
Around the gallery there are structures which seem like paintings on the wall but do not involve any type of representation whatsoever. Canvases laid over top of metallic frames emit wavelengths, distorted, aberrant visual effects. Hallucinations in moire patters that follow and chase after the viewer’s steps. There it is: can you see it? Perhaps I am just making this up, but I do see something. There is something about the metallic structures that recalls the Modulor, by that other wise man, the bedamned Le Corbusier, despite being just a proportional reference, which is also the golden section. We are moving in front of the same space, framed by the same structure, that of the present. Space and time are two concepts that are inseparably related in the mathematical model. All the physical events of the Universe take place in the space-time continuum, in agreement with the Theory of Relativity and other physical theories. According to them, time cannot be separated from the three spatial dimensions, and like them is dependent upon the degree to which the observer is moving. From this pseudo-Euclidian perspective, the Universe is a four-dimensional space, where there are three spatial dimensions and a fourth dimension of time.
All of this brings us back to the same point, again and again: do you see it now? The poet as artist must be a visionary, dedicated to the vast disarrangement of all senses. The creator has as a primary object of study the entirety of his or her own knowledge, confronting the soul within this domain, where it is inspected, tested and learnt from. The creator must be a medium to be able to transmit it to us, as viewers, keen as we are to hear explanations, to comprehend, to know why. In the end what is necessary is to turn things around, to make the soul monstrous, to make it age and grow foul with no regrets, to let it experience every venom imaginable so as to end up with its quintessence. To turn into something diseased, criminal, damned. “And into the supreme fount of wisdom!”
In this body of work, Arbizu summarises his intense experience after a stage at the Academy of Spain in Roma, where, as he explains, he felt like a character who, in the dark and torch in hand, might explore his own mind and illuminate new connections growing within. The dark, as is said, is the new middle ages to come.
Everything returns, everything fades away. Around us all that is left is empty space.