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23 June 2022
Layers floating in circles Chronicle of “La flecha que mata el tiempo” [The Arrow that Kills Time] in ABM Confecciones

 We’ve heard it, we’ve all heard all about all the sticks and spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained. ” (K. Le Guin, 1989)[1] Le Guin, U. (1989). The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. In Dancing at the Edge of the World (pp. 149-154). New York: Grove Press.

As soon as we enter, we come across a monumental sculpture, erected from ceiling to floor, rotating on itself. A winged sphinx, as a protective beast of life and death -dualism that will accompany us throughout the visit- guards the space, framed by two columns, one classical and the other more modern brick. A series of icons and speculative messages about the future cover the entire figure, such as the bitcoin logo or a sandwich proposing “come on baby, let’s eat the rich”. This is one of the renderings that make up the project Future Bestiary [Kerameikos] (2020) by the Greek artist Petros Moris, produced from the scanning of different beasts that inhabited the ancient Athenian cemetery of Kerameikos. Projected on a canvas, which acts as a skin to cross to continue the tour, the sphinx remains impassive to our presence. Guardian of a door that does not prevent us from passing through, it is at the same time a welcoming hostess.

Anna Dot, La parábola de los ciegos [The parable of the blind] (2020). Photo: Pablo Bonelli

We cross the entrance and more layers, more strata, more shells appear. Perched on a plastic fabric that seems about to tear, as if frozen, the molt of some insect or some cocoon already emptied; a trace of a body that contained but now, being empty, takes on a materiality of its own. Like the sphinx, guardian of life and death, Vaseline puddle (2022) by Javier Chozas is suspended between both states. We sense that the structures have harbored some kind of life, although we are not sure which one or how long ago, but they appear to us completely inert. As evoked by its title – “Puddle of Vaseline”- Chozas’s piece is only part of a cycle of mutations between the organic and the inorganic. The slow decomposition of plant and animal bodies produces petroleum that, when extracted and refined, becomes petroleum jelly, an artificial compound. However, it behaves like a fat or an oil, depending on the temperature, organic elements par excellence. The boundary between what is natural and what is produced is blurred and the categories themselves begin to lose their defining capacity.

The same dichotomy also appears in Esther Merinero’s pieces Enredo (bloom) y Enredo (blossom) (2022), created by superimposing layers of oil, pigments and epoxy resin. Still, the inside and the outside are confused in a kind of space-time glitch in shades of purple, black, brown, blue, green and yellow. The silhouette offered by each of the Entanglements could well be a section of the terrestrial strata, a magical glimpse of that which remains hopelessly hidden from human vision. In a similar way, the tougher Cherry (2022), also by Merinero, simultaneously conceals and shows. Like a table-cage, built in aluminum, it holds keys, key rings, carabiners and chains of different thicknesses and sizes, which at the same time it protects with a metal mesh, preventing a complete view of them. The title itself refers to an earlier sculpture, Brave blossoming (cherry) (2021), inspired by the fine meshes used to protect some terraces from falling leaves and other detritus. Specifically, it invokes the moment of cherry blossom, when such meshes are filled with intact, hanging blossoms, creating a layer of static matter, neither above nor below, neither living nor dead, similar to Vaseline puddleshells.

Javier Chozas, Vaseline puddle (2022). Photo: Pablo Bonelli.

Equally suspended in time and space, a floating installation occupies the center of the room. Anna Dot’s The Parable of the Blind (2020) is composed of five sticks, collected from different routes through the mountains, alluding to the composition of Pieter Brueghel’s painting of the same name. In the original painting, a group of blind men, each equipped with his stick, follow a guide, also blind, who is falling into a hole. Trusting the first and not stopping to check for themselves whether the path is safe, they are all doomed to the same fate. In Dot’s installation, it seems that the sticks have become autonomous from their bearers, but still without being very clear about their direction. Or perhaps, we are the ones who do not see the men, entering the parable and not knowing which is the stick we should trust. The men are not there, the flowers are not there, the insects are not there….

“I am one, divided into parts, parts of myself, becoming us “- suddenly a proclamation fills the space. The voice of the Earth speaks to us. It laments for the infinite cycles of production, for the mountains and the oceans, for all creatures; it accuses the overexploitation, the cages, the hyper-rationalization. The Earth awakens, becomes aware and questions us about all the control and damage that is exercised over it, while warning us of the immense power it holds. Just as Moris explains to us how both our knowledge of the past and the construction of a technological future emerge from the underworld, connecting in depth two realities that might seem so disparate, this voice calls us to pay more attention to that which we cannot render because of its magnitude or because it is hidden. “Then spring comes and the children of rationality, reborn on the other side, begin to seek their own voice and that of their environment, because they know that, without it, they are lost”- he concludes.

Adéla Součková, On the Earth awakening from a restless dream (2018). Photo: Pablo Bonelli

The sound piece On the Earth awakening from a restless dream (2018) floods the exhibition recurrently, breaking the static silence that covers everything. Conceived and written by Adéla Součková, the track features music by contemporary gamelan composer Ari Wulu and has been edited by Karina Kottová and narrated by Hope Kinanthi Hoperiette Jatmiko, a Dutch-Indonesian girl. Although we hear only Hoperiette Jatmiko’s voice, underlying it are those of all the people who have been directly involved in the production of the audio, as well as those who influenced Součková to carry out the project. The voice of the Earth could not but be multiple, again a layering, a large-scale co-production.

We enter The Arrow That Kills Time and encounter a non-linear journey – tangled, vaporous, anachronistic, muddy, cyclical – but one that nevertheless neither intimidates nor overwhelms. After passing through the first skin, we encounter everything, in no particular order, as the room leaves are at the other end of the space. We are enveloped by a feeling of emptiness, but loaded with gestures of life, which ends up being very pleasant. Superimposed on the works that make up the exhibition are other devices and traces that bear witness to everything that has passed through ABM Confecciones after six years of history. Just as Součková-along with Wulu, Kottová and Hoperiette Jatmiko-appeals to us to remind us of all that which has no language, but is enormously sentient, we intuit in the bodies that inhabit the space countless memories. Times overlap and accompany each other. This accumulation of objects loaded with experiences reminds us that every exhibition -as a group of artistic manifestations- is an invention; a temporary coincidence of materials and concepts that can be interpreted and reinterpreted by anyone who wants to collect stories. That arrow that wounds, kills, mutilates, intervenes aggressively and conquers time no longer serves us to construct pertinent stories. We are left, now, with the task of exploring all the possible range that opens up outside of it. To try other ways of reasoning matter, to narrate life and death, not as duality but as a tangle; to think the estrangement of life from acceptance and embrace.

Esther Merinero, the tougher Cherry (2022). Photo: Pablo Bonelli


La flecha que mata el tiempo [The Arrow that kills Time] Adéla Součková, Anna Dot, Esther Merinero, Javier Chozas, Petros Moris
Curated by Jorge Van den Eynde. ABM Confecciones (Madrid, Spain) 13-05-22 al 22-05-22


(Featured Image: Moris, Future Bestiary [Kerameikos] (2020). Photo: Pablo Bonelli)


1 Le Guin, U. (1989). The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. In Dancing at the Edge of the World (pp. 149-154). New York: Grove Press.

L. San Gregorio (Aranda de Duero, 1996) is an independent curator and artist. Graduated in Fine Arts by the UCM and with a Master in History of Contemporary Art and Visual Culture by the MNCARS, the UAM and the UCM, she has developed projects in institutions such as the CA2M, Medialab Matadero, the Reina Sofia Museum and the Pradiauto gallery. His research addresses the condition of technology today, its dependence on, as well as its impact on the organic and its formulation from it. He believes in the driving force of art to radically observe matter, living or dead, and to think about its complexities and politics.

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