e3.

aqui se narra
tres dispositivos

an exhibition Carmen Nogueira
18.MAY.2024 — 20.JUNE.2024
“Patient handcrafted weaving, but also unweaving in order to begin again differently,” Alejandra Riera’s work never stops shifting, connecting one presence with another, showing us that the work is not in the one but in the many and that her lines and gestures, which both create and are the work, emanate from an ethics that any critical commentary cannot avoid. Indeed, she invites us not to write about her practice as such, but to write from and perhaps around it, by understanding and retracing her persistent and formative movement, accepting that the living is the essential element of a poetic work that strives to initiate, to make place, make room. For these gestures and lines produced and co-produced by her and, each time, an ever-expanding constellation of others, do not need to be explained as such, but rather pursued – that is their necessity. Hence, they do not so much require a discourse, which would otherwise hover above them; rather they require being given to speech: to let oneself be caught in the weave, to begin not only to write but to let the work speak, as if this was the only language available, to speak it altogether and, in so doing, to restore its provisional configuration, to let oneself be inhabited by it, without it being any longer a question of one’s own opinion, but rather of experience, as if any text could do no more than indicate the work’s latest iteration to date. Any attempt based on and around Alejandra’s work thus participates in her economy of gestures and lines, but also of affects – appearing like a part of life, an unproductive expenditure, a branching out towards but also for her.
 
The focal point of the exhibition is an image-text work, conceived by Alejandra and culminating in a series of photographs of female workers from the Lumière factories printed in negative on glass plates. Women photographed not leaving the factories, but inside, in the workshops, preparing and processing the emulsions, applying emulsion on glass plates, measuring and cutting the plates, sorting through broken glass for material to be recycled, treating their cut fingers. Showing these historical images of work, of labor, letting us see those moments when workers are less or perhaps more than workers, when they are simply women talking among themselves, holding hands, active, absorbed or looking at the camera, their bodies accentuated or not by the clothes of the time, and by way of a process already employed of inverting the image from positive to negative. To invert the blacks and whites, light becoming dark, black becoming light; to print the images on the very material with which the workers labored, and which damaged their fingers; to render the photograph strange, to add time between the moment when it is seen and the moment when its subjects become visible, to push the images towards film, to temporally amplify the sequence where the subjects seem to fill the entire image, so as to offer, in the first instance, a dense preliminary view where each object, in the shared space of the image, appears to have equal value.

Alejandra writes, “what matters is not ‘being’ but rather ‘being there’. How to give support to the subject so that the subject’s “I” can emerge, there where they are.” Yet this “there” [y] in “being there” [y être], a concept which she uses to connect being to its existence in place and time, is only valid because a given conjuncture can be inhabited by singularities. Hence, the historical and social sequences which she focuses on in her work are themselves only valid through this weaving of time and place, and cannot be evoked without taking into account the points of view and desires of their protagonists. Alejandra’s work resists being entirely identified with these sequences, including the conflicts and struggles which she has supported in the hope of resisting being subjugated, in Walter Benjamin’s words, to the continuum of history. For she will have always filmed, engaged in, and experienced those sequences insofar as she accompanies and is accompanied by “human-non-human” singularities – which themselves draw lines never reduced to a single point. In the language of political and social struggle, it will also be a question of resisting any convention that seeks to fix and present itself without remainder in an un-situated utterance. We will therefore find no value in generic formulas such as “Kurdish resistance,” “the struggle of undocumented immigrants,” “ecology,” “decolonial studies,” etc. Each of these terms, unraveled and rewoven, opened to make room for singular words that can speak and relate, modest words that resonate in one language or another, as if released into the general tumult of the world in order to be grasped collectively, as if for the first time.

Speech has a strong presence in this artistic and no doubt more essentially poetic work, and everything that accompanies it – how can something undeterminate happen in this world? – and therefore how to always inhabit a space prior to any construction, even prior to any projection. In her writing, Alejandra points out that the native language of François Tosquelles, an important figure in institutional psychotherapy who, beginning in 1940, directed the Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole psychiatric hospital in Lozère, was Catalan. He thus spoke French and Spanish “as a foreigner,” with an accent, as if from the outside, thus countering the potential dominance of these two languages in a context of authoritarian regimes: the Franco regime in Spain, the Vichy regime in France. To speak out and, at the same time, immediately subvert what is said with an echo from elsewhere permeating the words; to keep what is said at a distance through the words as they are spoken; to allow what is said to be grasped at another level. Thus Alejandra’s writings, “her lines,” can be literally understood as an exercise in the circumvention of terms fetishized by the dominant ideology, eventually of those currents that inform her own practice, or even of names of authors. Likewise, thinking in themes is dismissed in favor of “trajectile” thinking, one that is worth pursuing and embodying if it is done point by point, moment by moment, taking care, as with poetry, to begin with the material itself, through detours and perseverance, to think in the complexity of time and experience.

The emergence of metaphors of speech, “line-spaces, image-texts, film-documents, lines-fragments, collective garden-paintings,” the gestures and lines, accompanying this artisanal un-doing, which takes place in suspension, between an incomplete ethical imperative – the incomplete as that which insists on a becoming without end – and a dialectic proper to the exchange between mediums, between images – whether photographic or cinematographic – and text: incompleteness as the symptom of a reality that questions the poetic and political polysemy of representation, as a repetition of presence but also as an orchestrated substitution, never believing that the artifact can replace the thing, making this very incompleteness the connection between what will have been, and what could be, the significance of a gesture, with that of the real which we can truly touch. Incompleteness as the dialogue between practices, techniques, and gestures, which will never be sufficient in themselves, but which will, each time, strive for an otherness. There will never be anything other than “partial” views because what follows will only take place with the involvement of those who will reflect on their own intentions and reverberations. 

Text by Annabela Tournon Zubieta


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