You are the other I of Greek lore / Ever lying in ambush for me. You track me down in / The smoothness of treacherous water or crystal that lasts / And my blindness is of no use
…it’s a sort of magic that you dare / To multiply the sum of things
Of what we are and that encompass our fate. / When I am dead, you’ll keep creating doubles of another, and then another, other, other
To the mirror, Jorge Luis Borges [Al espejo, Jorge Luis Borges. translated by Juan Ribo Chalmeta and Irina Urumova.]
This first individual exhibition of this female artists was born as a reflection of their own creative process. As a collective, sharing experiences is crucial in their work, and the methods they use every day in the study feed the conceptual content of the projects. Hence, by dealing with universal matters based on personal experiences, caused by the things they want to transmit, the viewer’s empathy increases. Formally, the proposal is materialized through video, photography, and installation, which are means that have become their most common tools.
The installation Return Forever seems to be the centre of the proposal, the axis of a speech articulated in three spaces of the gallery by means of three other pieces, one of them is also consisting in a series of seven more —The old world is burning—. Apparently, this last one, also closes that discursive content, as an epilogue. Although, at the same time, it leaves it open to new vital and creative related proposals. The image of two rivers that flow into one creating a waterfall, which resulted from a trip to Iceland, is projected onto a canvas that hangs above a black crystal, whose reflection is the inverted image of that waterfall. This natural accident serves as a visual metaphor for the whole creative project, and how the egos of every human being, and particularly of every artist, become a new one, the named creative being. But, in addition, that reflection on the glass turns the scene into a continuous cycle, in which water, as ideas, navigate between the individual and the collective in a cycle that never ends.
Water serves as a mirror. Dreams, language, look, thoughts, and art can be reflected in the water, too… The mirror is the inverted image, the symbol of the spirit, and is related to the double concept; metaphor of the unfolding of the personality. Self-contemplation has two aspects: a positive one, one that leads to knowledge of oneself, to the encounter of the true identity; and the other, which implies the destructive power of the vanity of drowning in the water like Narcissus, trapped by the reflection of his image. Art can be the mirror reflection that shows the truth while demonstrating the falsehood shown in the real world. In the end, a labyrinth that implies loss and constant search, as creation implies search and knowledge, life and death.
The short tale Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius talks about an investigation, in which Bioy Casares —who may also be considered co-author of the story— has an important role. In the first line, Borges says: “I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror, and an encyclopaedia”. Both elements are a constant, almost obsessive, in their production. The opportunity to quote Borges is not only justified by the presence of a reflective object as a part of a piece, but by something that goes deeper into the key point of the work of Alba and Eva: the co-creation and the need of communication to make it possible.
Uqbar is a fictional place inside the own fictional world, and its creation is referred to another fictional place, Tlön or Orbis Tertius, a world apart from which Uqbar would be a region. It is created by a collective that not only suggests the dissolution of individuality in favour of the group, but the total anonymity, since no name will be included in the authorship. The artist, or the artistic collective, is usually the creator of a whole, not only of some concrete works, but of the entire particular universe that constitutes its inner world (many of the images from this exhibition come from real places in Iceland, whose landscapes seem to belong to another planet).
The creation is the mirror where the creator looks in, recognizes and gets to know their reality as an individual. Only after this first step will it be possible to transcend and look for (in) other(s) the answers and the solutions. Frankenstein’s monster, creature fathered by Mary Shelley’s terrors of terrible past events, and other future intuitions with success, is the spectral and horrifying reflection of the writer. For Shakespeare, of which more and more theories are found providing that his work was written by a collective, art is the mirror of life. Thus, art can be the vehicle for artists to find communication and understanding in that space that is of both and none: The space in between. The title of this exhibition is formed by three words, and they give name also to the space interstice where the co-work emerges, after renunciations and mutual acceptances. Three words to name only one thing, as in the boreal hemisphere language of that planet Tlön; as their two names, Moreno and Grau, to name the creator of some pieces, once they have left their individual selves aside and have merged into a single one, and yet not identical. “One thing is equality and another identity”, affirmed the thinkers of Tlön. This principle was enunciated by Heraclitus in his “everything flows” and becomes a literary myth in the Paradox of Theseus. The chirality concept could also be applicable: two equal realities but not superimposable.
Likewise, in Tlön, everything is an indefinite succession of mental states in time, as the creative process, as the flow of the water, thoughts, and creative drive. Thanks to communication, to be the same but different, even each of them is different at different times.
The inner room, sculptural installation, arises in an attempt by artists to question the intrinsic need to communicate, and the difficulties that this entails. By using photography and installation, they explore the possibilities that they really have to understand each other, or to be understood. By using a primary code of communication, the Morse code, they create fiction: two beings who, being in different places, try to communicate without taking a break, as a way to get out of their own place (physical/psychological). The project consists of two metallic columns that contain a light inside, symbolizing those beings that from two different points try to establish a contact. The light signals that these columns send encrypted in Morse are extracts from different writings on communication and human relations transformed into a conversation.
The dialogue looks as follows:
—There is no energy without opposites
—Day and night
—Birth and death
—Reason and energy
The old world is burning, is a photographic series formed by four old archival photos and other new ones taken during their trip to Iceland. They have photographed the negatives of the first ones, keeping details such as the spool marks or the numbering of the photographer. However, all of them have been modified and turned into a kind of objects, when printed on a methacrylate sheet which, at the same time, acts as a frame, so that the two-dimensional image is passed onto a three-dimensional object. Conceptually, like the other pieces of the exhibition, they talk about the creative process of the couple of artists and it is a reflection on the photographic medium, questioning their own limits and the current need to reinvent them. But there is another underlying discourse, the discourse of life, which implies death —of which the mirror is also a symbol, while life is on the other side…— and vice versa, in different creeds and in the biological cycle. A world that is extinguished in flames but gives way to another, hence the meaning of the title —how individuality can be transformed into collectivism. Death and resurrection?—. At the end of his story, Borges warns that Tlön is replacing the real world because of its perfection and order, to those who succumb, fascinated, humans. In short, Tlön is another labyrinth, like Theseus’, and the reflection’s multiplied in the mirrors ad infinitum. These female creators and their Works, as mirrors, faced, in an eternal and indiscernible confusion, they are given birth, they die and reborn without solution of continuity.
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