Esther Gatón, Ugly Enemies.
Ugly Enemies is a site-specific intervention that makes use of the functional elements of the gallery, including the elevator, the stairs, the window, and the fake marble tiles, as devices that actively conduct the visitor’s movement through the space. The exhibition operates as a type of membrane that overlays the spaces of the gallery; a site that the works inhabit and in which they are transformed. The transformations on the space give off an erratic vitality, to the point that the exhibition begins to function as a set for the video El Que Monta Cargas, which that can be watched here. This video uses the current condition of art, in which most exhibitions are seen online, and pushes it further: the exhibition is deformed, observed, and rearranged by lights or optical distortion, in order to bring Ugly Enemies to the screen, and cast the space and material conditions of of the gallery as central characters in its representation. This video uses the current condition of art, in which most exhibitions are seen online, and pushes it further: the exhibition is deformed, observed, and rearranged by lights or optical distortion, in order to bring Ugly Enemies to the screen, and cast the space and material conditions of of the gallery as central characters in its representation.
The exhibition was planned throughout 2020, while Esther Gatón was writing Sunburns1, an essay about the making of exhibitions as if they were “trap machines”. Benedict Singleton, philosopher, designer, and specialist in strategy, has written a text in response to this essay and to Ugly Enemies, titled Gyropolitics, in which the author reflects on incorporating the condition of “gyre”(spin, vortex, or whirlpool), a political force, to the artistic production. “—Take up this kind of plotting as a subject matter in itself. This seems all the more important, given that the feeling of being trapped is now arguably as close to a universal experience as the planet can host, a veritable zeitgeist. (...) The challenge, therefore, becomes how to work with these complex dynamics as a creative material, how to put them to work in new ways. How to collectively make something of them, rather than personally embody them.” Singleton's text can be read later in this dossier. Cibrián is accessed through a glass door, framed in a window that faces the beach, which allows the changing daylight to inundate the main space. From mid-afternoon, a combination of street and traffic lights pollutes the entry. Ugly Enemies' first installation entitled Garaje Spa, embraces this mutant condition and exaggerates it, adapting the gallery lighting to the different types of light that we see from within. During the day, the installation makes use of a conventional white neon light, and when the sun goes down there is a lower light made with mauve, white, and green spotlights, which dimly illuminate the rooms, letting the orange glow from the street mix with them. The PVC curtains installed in this area increase the presence and materiality of these lighting strategies, fragmenting the way we conduct ourselves through the space, and misleading our eyes. These translucent strips overlay each other and the space, while a sculpture made from bicycle lights and located at the other end of the room casts its small intermittent and uncoordinated phosphorescences on the plastics, multiplying the red appearances and contributing to the lopsidedness of the space. Within these multi-illuminated rooms, the area that is most taken into account is the gap under the curtains; the space between them and the floor. Sculptures made of clay have been made and installed for that specific gap. They sculptures also include hoops, colored faux pearls, glitter, and tangerine leaves. Further back, in the gallery corridor, the ceramic floor has raised itself and welcomes us vertically, or so it seems. Slimy Trampantojo is a visual trick — a sort of “trompe d ́oeil”— made with acrylic paint on chipboards, which makes one think of a movie set, or a fairground attraction. Small glazed porcelain sculptures are distributed through this scenography; they crawl on the ground or cling to walls, almost as if they were precious detritus that has germinated as the ground rose, and moved.
Going down, in the basement of the gallery, we find Lo Crudo y Lo Cocido (title taken from Claude Lévi-Strauss), an iron and steel platform is placed on top of seven silk prints. The silks are superimposed on each other and directly on the floor, revealing the false marble tiles through their transparency. We have to walk on the platform looking down, and in doing so one observes that the printed images are mixed photographs of mudflats, Martian soils or craters; something that one would suppose is still lower, and we would see if our eyes could excavate that territory or if the silks had some sort of Xray, towards the centre of the Earth. If they could gut it a little more.
Another wall of the basement is occupied by Falso, a drawing made with clay and adhesive plastic jewels, which appears to us from the right or from behind, while we were looking down; which gives the drawing a rude and ghostly character. Finally, a background sound is heard throughout the space. It mixes belching, coughing, gargling, gasps and beatbox rhythms. The two sound pieces, titled glottis I and glottis II: were produced by Esther thanks to the Injuve grant in 2019. In this show they work as piped music. The sound invades and deforms he rooms of the gallery, and does so using the internal explosions of the body: a visceral space reverberates and is reproduced as an atmosphere.
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