Manuel Sáiz. Bitterless destruction, 1992

Curator: Rosa Martínez
Konsthallen, Goteborg, Sweden. 6 Jan - 10 Mar, 1996

Ana Laura Alaez
Juan Luis Moraza
Manuel Saiz
Paloma Navares
Joan Brossa
Eulalia Valldosera
Pepe Espaliu
Paco Cao Antunez

The other's desire creates a fiction around me. And there is always a way of building a new reality.

In the climate of confusion and uncertainty marking the close of this century and after the long parenthesis of the eighties - during which artists appeared to be concerned solely with generating images recognizable to the market - a new generation of creators has emer-ged which, in some instances, coexisted half-concealed with media stars of the past decade but retained the flux of their individual poet-ics. Shunning all absolutist pretensions to conceiving an artwork as a specific object, they realise that art is a medium with its own laws but likewise capable of and necessary for linking up with other spheres of experience. These artists proactively search for new ways of articula-ting reality and representation and generate visions that help us to glean the meaning of our being in this world. Starting from their own experiences and reflections and, lacking any trace of cynicism or opportunism, they seek out the languages appropriate to them, while likewise expecting the viewer to flesh out the meaning of the work with his or her own interpretation.

We now know that aesthetics is not an aloof experience for, as Fromm says, aesthetic pleasure covers a series of psychological needs which partly assuage the suffering implicit in the civilizing process. And, as Benjamin Buchloch puts it, ideological interests also lurk behind the defence of the work's autonomy. The aesthetic experience thus fills the void of that subjectivity whose basic structures rest on the social milieu and reflections on representation have to contribute to its forms of symbolic articulation.

Thus, when touring the works of the eleven creators featured at this exhibition, we see how the desire to unite nature and culture from the present, to question the relationship between sexuality and ideolo-gy, to deconstruct the linear illusion of progress and reinterpret history, to ironise about the servitude and perils of power, to play with fantasi-es of seduction, to confront disease and death or to question the very flux of representation, takes on a myriad of forms. Performance, sculp-ture, photography, video and installation serve these artists who, in this instance, hail from Spain, but who move within a global context of existential and ideological concerns as they explore with critical passion some of the ethical and aesthetic issues of contemporary life.

With the zenithal projection of his delicately poised tightrope walker, Antoni Abad sets out a vivid, disturbing metaphor of the perpetual return of all the existential and creative insecurity we live in.

Ana Laura Alaez deals in the language of affection and the rhetoric of appearance. She draws an enticing iconography that delights in stimulating what Octavio Zoya calls the 'psycho fantasy of desire' in her sculptures in which the body, at times elliptical, is defin-ed and enhanced by a lavish excess of adornment, raising it to a plane on which the stratagems of seduction attain their full power, while simultaneously relaxing on the plush cushion of pleasure and irony.

The work of Juan Luis Moraza, likewise concerned with the rhetoric of ecstasy and its clash with the law, enables us to grasp how postmodernism has revived the use of extravagance and superfluous-ness as a means of opposing the heroic, messianic purity of moder-nism. The sequence of high-heels in Extasis, status, estatua ('Ecstasy, Status, Statue') is an allegoric play on the intensities of seduction and the linear progression of women's curves of erotic ecstasy.

Perejaume's intimate relationship with landscape and with the codes and strategies of its portrayal has led him to maintain various courses of approach, analysis and reflection on the art/nature binomi-al with rare poetic delicacy. The process involved in Restauracio de dues pedres en el Port del Comte ('Restoring two stones in the Port del Comte') reveals a desire to heal the wounds inflicted on nature which, in the light of late-capitalist, tourist consumer culture adopts the guise of merely picturesque recourse, whereas in El pessebrisme del Quadrat negre ('The Manger-like Black Square') he questions the value of all essences through a sculptural configuration in which the cracks in Malevitch's oil turn into a gigantic metaphor of breakdown.

Obsessed with the possibilities of scientific knowledge of the world, in his Archipielago Logico (escala humana) ('Logical Archipelago - Human Scale') Manuel Saiz stresses the indifference inherent in an element of a series which contains all the information required to reproduce other, similar elements. The idea of difference and repetition and, above all, the friction between implicit mathematical structure and applied natural materials confront the viewer with the apparent opposition between programmed order and the disorder of growth, thus highlighting the complexity of theories on the potential for uncertainly we still perceive to be inherent in nature's workings.

Paloma Navares has long been interested in the deconstruction involved in portrayals of the female body in traditional painting. Her depictions of Venus, nymphs and Eve are set in a world of dreams and silences that call into question the role of woman as an
object of contemplation by the male viewer. Her joint endeavour with another female artist - Paloma Muñoz - in the work, El nacimiento de dos luciernagas ('Birth of Two Glowworms') expresses a desire to find new forms of relationship and the power of illumination emanating from the gaze of woman.

Joan Brossa's Les codenes de Damocles ('Damocles' Chains') is an ironical structure which, relying on a significant interplay of associations between words and images, alludes, among other things, to the need to sanitate power - all powers. He continues with renewed vigour along the path of political critique which, in an intelligent con densation of surrealist and conceptual poetics, has characterised many of his poem-objects.

With her series of photographs entitled H Vocente ('Recumbent') and her installation, Esfanteria para un lavabo de hospital ('Shelf for a hospital bathroom'), Eulalia Valldosera presents disturbing reflections on the body, its relationship to objects and the inversion between interiority and exteriority, all conveyed through an interplay of light
and shadow with changes of intensity that set up an energy circuit which admits viewer interference but loses all meaning once the light has gone out.

The last performance of Pepe Espaliu's El Nido ('The Nest') in which, over a period of eight days, the artist gradually stripped off while founding a circular platform set around a tree, is an allusion to the physical attrition of the roundabout as a metaphor of life and the dynamics of plunder and dispossession as they approach the empty, menacing silence of death. His sculpture, £; poseo de/ am/go ('The Friend's Walk') focuses on the need to help others in their struggle against AIDS, while Luisa talks of the multiple emotional, ideological and social prisons we find ourselves locked in.

The work-in-progress entitled Rent-a-Body, by Paco Cao and the performance, Epizoo ('Epizoon'), by Antunez resort to the artist's actual body as the basic framework of the artwork and require direct, active involvement by the audience.

Paco Coo rents out his body for a modest sum, depending on the use and functions required of it, in an ironical send-up of the growing tendency in our society to hypostasize the human body In Ep/zoo, Antunez's body is seen hooked-up to a computer by pneumatic cables. Spectators are invited to use the computer and play with the animated pictures of the artist. Such interaction actually impinges on Antunez's body, providing a broad reflection on virtual violence and real violence, while billing the audience as the authentic creator of the work.

All these works are presented as phantasmic reflections of our status quo - they are truths only in that they stand for something other than themselves and, like all language, are an artifice capable of generating unintelligibility and fiction, but reality and meaning, too. The life of metaphors these artists offer us raises human relationships to a poetic level and is yet another way of narrating desire which, as
Lacan would have it, generates pleasure precisely because there exists a phantasm which, by setting up a dialogic interaction, enables new possibilities for reality to be generated. Hence, these metaphors create new worlds of experience, transmute our awareness with warmth and, by eliciting our involvement in creating a language, beckon us to create poetic emotion, reality and life.

Rosa Martínez