Surfaces and interstices: On water, in the sonority of a line

Surfaces are the world's skin, just as skin itself is a surface: through it each thing –any thing– lends itself to contact, to others, to all, comprehending and making itself on the way. Everything has a surface that shows itself, turning into figure among the limits that it imposes on itself. From it, it both cares and exposes itself, offering contacts and apprehensions. Surfaces are exteriority, what is exhibited, what gets wounded or deteriorated, what is grazed or touched. We live and draw on surfaces, we read or write, we dance, and sometimes we simply lie down on them to witness, to wait, to listen.

Magdalena Fernández's surfaces are, apart from a skin, a project, a tour where we are shown her way of understanding and making «oeuvres». It is a reflective mood that questions itself about art and its media, about the forms through which it makes itself present, about nature and existence, the world of meanings that constitute us and that we elaborate. Just as a skin, these surfaces cover and give contours to a body of problems and to plastic questions –constantly becoming and changing– that have to do with looking and space, and with the ways in which both –looking and space– transform our apprehension and comprehension of what surround us, and what we are in that which surrounds us.

In this sense, Surfaces concretizes a symbolic universe that is, simultaneously, discourse and construction (for the viewing). Discourse (in the viewing) and construction (in space) are the two axis of this skin which in saying itself transforms itself continuously. On one hand, they constitute a discourse of the eyesight in which that which presents itself is not an image but its remains: that which the gaze withdraws and which is, at the same time, its withdrawal (its absence and fissure, its protection). A discourse that speaks of the foundation of the image, of its folds and requests. Its sayings are the inversion of the image in the factual experience that fissures it, and which makes of it a being-ness and not a figure. On the other hand these axes construct an event in space. Thanks to it we recognize how our tours and our experiences are the place, form and ‘open space' for any possible image: the discourse and construction. They are the discourse and construction of a sort of place of ignorance which compasses the excess of interpretations and affirmations to which we are accustomed, weaving them in a rhythmic time- sensual and discontinuous- which diminishes its intensity, modifying its timbres, silencing them, dissimulating them. A place of ignorance in which something different than the piece happens; a potency that gathers other looks, which become figures only in their breakings, in the modulations of its tours, in its silence: a blinking.

In effect, the weaving of the pieces that make up the surface –this symbolic skin– articulates a dwelling –a place to be, to tour, to project– in which the sight impregnates itself of body and sound, dissembling distances. The pieces also articulate themselves, questioning themselves, probing each other, happening between white and black, between the solidity of the square and the mutability of water, in uncontainable presences, rapid, which disappear continually, un-saying themselves to say what nestles behind, before and after everything we have witnessed: that which is left suspended, an instant of unknowing and expectation.

As a project and tour, Surfaces makes us transit through moments that install themselves between sight and construction. Instants in which both, gazing and construction, expand and exceed themselves, building themselves beyond their own frontiers, transcending. As a project and a tour, Surfaces is a celebration of existence in its elemental modes: its infinite movements, its unpredictable transformations, and it's also a game in which we become for some moments participants in its construction, the game of dissembling our distances. A celebration and a game conceived for showing space in its becoming, to make patent the becoming of space. Precisely because each of these pieces transform the physical space where they happen, making it different from itself, giving it unexpected qualities and determinations, in Surfaces Magdalena allows us to tour various ways of occupying and engaging space.

Of water

Venice is the starting point: a conjecture that turns into revelation and Magdalena glimpses the elemental display of the world –of what surrounds us– in the incessant movement of water, in the forms that are rhythmically born, that open and get lost entwined to others –the succeeding ones– different and similar at the same time. Circles that grow breaking, cracking; sinuous lines, disquieting stains, reflections and contours of an ungraspable movement that with its presence summons a genesic condition –previous to any history, impossible among narratives, lost.

A genesic condition (place of ignorance) thanks to which, –as Merleau Ponty would say– bodies are their movements, eyes their vision, ears their sounds, appearing as the significant moment in which all of these pieces encounter themselves and get into rhythm, building in space a discourse in which the gaze ponders its silences, its occultations: the invisibility of vision (the sound of the lines and their affect: the display of the forms and its impossible permanence).

Water expresses that original condition, the mystery that holds us and destines us as nature: on one hand, its endless mobility indicates the unending transformation that determines our body, our history and our relationship to the world; on the other hand, its invisible density talks of a memory and allow us to understand ourselves in and as something that gets modified, that grows weakening, changing.

The start: both the tour proposed by Surfaces and of the «meat» that makes us into world gets established there, between those waters, changed into strokes of light, in that original condition that shows itself as pure expression, ungraspable, and to which we can only have access when we loose our delimitations, our frontiers, when our senses expand turning in what they feel, and are recognized by an other. Then we occupy the place of an image –in constant movement– and the floor gets undone in lights that are also waves and lines. The floor is a lake and our body water, and between them it appears –agitated– a moment in which the gaze looses its firmness: the place we are standing in turns abyssal, our skin is the support of a rambling, our walking gets dressed in the rhythm of nature.

But this Venice is also a record. A disfigured record –thus the presence of a paradox– where that which is recorded –the water– is not seen, and what it is seen –the happening, the event of the movable– is something without presence, a framework of strokes and lights that weave among them without a beginning, without an end. What is recorded is precisely what breaks the presences, what creases them: the act of an encounter, the being of an occupation, in the body, in space, for a gaze that submerges itself, that detains itself and gets settled.

In the tour that builds these Surfaces, these undulating light-traces of Venice's waters go outside their support, the video-graphic record, in the form of mobile lines that freely reconstruct themselves in different forms and materials, proposing simultaneously two entwined questions, that are also two games, two celebrations. The first has to do with

doing, the second with saying, they both inseparably open that place of ignorance which allows us to celebrate, playing with the unspeakable certitude –without words– reaffirming the fact that with each touch and each act we put the world and history into movement, without knowledge, with closeness.

Starting from a square

Modern art appears in history as a way of concretizing and giving a body to human principles, ends and necessities in objects: images, words, things; as a way of making visible and exterior the subjective mechanisms –eminently human– of comprehension and apprehension of the world, of making present his ways of behaving and suffering, as well as his media to build reality and be built in it. An art of utopias thanks to which men see each other and meet among things, reflecting, questioning and recognizing themselves.

Among the different paths through which modern art has exercised these pretensions, these desires, there are two that seem specially significant: on one hand, the one that takes hold of geometry –ideality and purity– to make it structure –foundation– of reality, summoning it as appearance itself; on the other, the one that attempts to get hold of time and movement: implementing itself as a design of transformation, of change. Both paths are a way of exhibiting –of making image and presence– the essentiality of the world, of the existent, of things and of bodies. In both, nevertheless, this essentiality is shown in structural terms, in the way of a skeleton or an ideal support.

In these Surfaces Magdalena Fernández reflects, visually and sensibly, about both ways, she collects their elements and mechanisms, their intuitions and ways of making themselves present. But she does not get ascribed to them as someone who continues an exercise, but instead contains them within a separation, as someone who, taking distance, observes reflectively and is capable of re-elaborating other meanings and senses. In effect, in these «oeuvres» geometry is materialized in bodies and movement, it's «temporalized», it abandons its ideality, its certitude or fixity, to expose its sensual condition. They get out of the place of fundaments and structures to the place of contours and skins, becoming not what supports but what marks and determines appearance, the presence of things itself.

The luminous traces of Venice turn into lines and intersect in a square: that fundamental shape that Magdalena transforms, vivifies and remakes infinitely until its negation in a circle. The square is a fundamental form: the perfect instant in geometry in which everything is correspondence and balance, it is the germ of all ideal comprehension of space and of forms because, in those proportions that reiterate themselves in their finding of each other, a pure potency gets installed. Nevertheless, this square retrieved from the waters describes its form in some sort of dance in which both its correspondence and its balance are dissembled, and what remains is the square in its excess, its boundaries, at its own peril. And it risks itself, unforeseeable, uncertain, disseminating itself, being always another, new, different, as a physical form that we can manipulate, as an image that dissolves before our eyes turning into something else, as the place where horizons get lost, absolved.

A square is plane and surface, support and figure, substratum or element; in our visual history it has always meant a moment of completion, that which determines order and makes structures possible. In these Surfaces it s a visual metaphor of the place where becoming happens, where senses are articulated. The geometry is then articulated with its own difference, with that which it is not, abandoning the modes of ideality to surrender and understand itself as trace, incision, of that which affects us in and with the world. It is a geometry in which the universality of its constructive condition presents itself as growth-force and nonstop development, a plexus of tension in constant re-composition. And the circle, its completion, is the form that concentrates and contains, a moon, a song of light.


Paintings and drawings, installations or sculptures, elaborated from traces and planes of light, the various places that compose Surfaces are not «things» or «oeuvres», they are on the contrary interstitial experiences because they are elaborated as the constant movement and transformation of a figure, of a color or a form in the multiplicity contained by it, which at the same time occults and displays. Devices that are weaved in time to express that which seems un-appropriable: the uncontainable density of sensations, the inscription of something for the looking, something in the body. A system of remissions, where vision doesn't apprehend just the presence but also its evocation. It gets done «between» what its shown and what gets ciphered, a possibility of being brought back and given to something that without being visible in them, installs itself as resonance, as mute eloquence.

Interstices: suspended squares or lines that dance at the rhythm of familiar sounds, and which infiltrate their own order, displacing it, taking it beyond their extremes, delivering in their presence not only a distribution of lines and points, but an experience that, paradoxically, makes itself visible from its occultation. Interstices because the line is also a sea, a plane that mutates turning into sound, points that dance building uncontainable images, un-appropriable, dense like the ones we see when seeing is something impossible.

This interstitial character is what makes of this tour, these Surfaces, a weaving, because that uncertain and medial locus creates the schemes that enable space to be more than a relation: to be the density of its emptiness itself. They weave, entwine, marking and pointing to meetings, connections, displacements, incorporating to things, to the world and bodies, a transparent dimension, a looking through, a looking through the in-side. In the interstice images like bodies and dances slip through: lines like contours, planes like skins and dances: space is a fact, a «dwelling in it», observation is a tactile understanding, contact. A looking-through where sound happens before vision and drawing dissolves in its own temporality, a seeing-through from behind in which color is rhythm or cadence and in it figures run away along their own display.

Locus: the sonority of a line, a plane

The image here is then an expanded and amplified text that exhibits its density, its physical condition. The lines, the square, the jumping «frogs», make themselves present to the eyes, but they do it with the density and the texture of a scene, with a sonorous rhetoric, even in silence. The image is displaced from the environment of vision to the one of sound, that is, from distance to proximity, from the horizon to the encounter.

In effect, such as the skin is an ever-awake membrane, attentive to the changes in the surroundings, these oeuvres –places of ignorance– are inscribed in the ways of sound: a recognition that happens through affect and memory, which addresses body and experience, obliging to playfulness and to nearness, always provisional. This is why, for example, the squares of the paintings are seen expatriated from their formal condition, from their rigidity, to become the place where potency works, where forms are infinitely and unforeseeably constructed. «Oeuvres», installations and videos that speak in a «foreign dialect»: the one of space and bodies, of constructed materiality, of memory. In the modes of sound, color dwells in planes that are more rhythm than forms, cadences of the language of birds: the «macaws» sing in the movements of their own tonalities the melody of that body which is forged between flight and scream, resonance and rumor of the early mornings, the moment when the world begins again.

The image, then, turns abyssal, it's light and sound, it turns into an image that in its absence appears as place, sound, space, and image that expands to its exteriority –to its context. An image that is its own record and that gives itself singing the sounds of the world, in some small frogs, at sunset, in our homes. It is thus that in Surfaces the pieces are that place –that inter-locution– that happens between an exiled image and a revealed scene, forcing us to a suspect seeing –suspicious–, a look that oscillates as blinking does, between the seen and seeing, and that as in blinking stops perception to be able to maintain its precision, diaphanous. A blink, a wink, movements of the eye in seeing, occupations of the body in space. A look of suspicion, suspicious, that constructs, conjectures and speaks in the occlusion of figurations, from the expansion of its own skin, as a caesura that opens –and opens.

Sandra Pinardi
'Superficies' catalog
spanish version