The Stone Guests
By Carlos Jaime Jiménez
Although we know that, ultimately, virtually all art is political, there is a difference between being so reactively and expressly embracing that purpose. And it is almost impossible to consider a type of creation that discourses on social dynamics, referring the symbolic projection associated with them as well as their physical manifestations, without incorporating the political dimension, either through a rub or a frontal onslaught. In the work of Alejandro Gonzalez (Havana, 1975), even the most subtle pieces retain sufficient strength to cause imbalance, their vocation is that of the silent scream that, nevertheless, retains the ability to deafen temporarily. Only that here the aim is not so much to stun as to draw attention to aspects of reality that claim to be modified, or at least rethought.
The city, as epicenter and reactor of a large part of the cultural and socio-political relations that make up today’s society, is a central element in the work of Alejandro Gonzalez, taking on particular symbolic importance in the works of Proyecto Procesual, carried out with the collaboration of Yeny Casanueva. They operate as a sort of condenser of different ideas, superimposed echoes of the creators’ criteria and of the possible contributions of a public to whom a series of pieces with notable rhetorical economy are presented, which seek to be completed and continued with the inter-subjective collaboration with the receiver.
This is the case of the Broken series, where –with an rigor close to minimal in the expression– reference is made to common concepts and places (in literal and metaphorical sense, in the latter) mostly associated with the urban environment and its imaginaries, that overlap and superimpose, revealing themselves as what they really are: structures that tend to remain static, influencing our perception and acting as social beings. The modification or transgression of said structures in the practice are acts that require a previous reflection to reveal their arbitrary character. In this regard, the works may get to operate as a concave mirror from which to reflect images obeying the logic of a fractured representation, modulated by the pressures and concealments of power incarnated in the diverse systems ruling society.
In the case of series like Pragmatic, the city is once again referred to as both physical and ideal space. It can even be abstracted as a kind of palimpsest in which all kinds of symbolic violence are superimposed, signed by political power and ranging from the selection and validation of what may be considered patrimonial, to the annulment of the critical and transforming capacity of the ordinary citizen with regard to the built environment surrounding him.
So far we are in the presence of a common process in the field of contemporary artistic production, but with the distinctiveness that the works referred to retain a sort of characteristic tone, an edge that forces us to handle them with care. And it is because artists do not passively ascribe themselves to the “anything goes” manipulated and misunderstood by postmodern cultural theory and art. There is a taking of position and a critical consciousness whose operational capacity as well as its limits are identifiable both in the posture of the artists and in the works.
The apparent impossibility of fracturing the system through the simple reproduction of its dynamics and the exhaustion of this resource –explored in depth by creators like Jeff Koons– is recognized by the authors themselves in the catalogue of one of their exhibitions. Nevertheless, neither do they pretend to enunciate a proven alternative or a stable and effective model of political art, in the first place because the very enunciation of this model goes against the paradoxical essence of an art that, following Jacques Ranciere, aims at being based on rupture and dissent while establishing an aesthetic distance that preserves it from being objectified.
Faced with the performance of the media at the service of power, the spectator needs to awaken and take part, since the very logic of contemporary social dynamics turns him, by default, into a participant in a simulacrum on a massive scale and, therefore, into a receiver of an accumulation of information and stimuli that, if not acted upon critically, automate both the gaze and the act. The notion of being judge and party has never been as dangerous and alarming as it is today, and the pieces in the Constitutional series are a metaphor that is extremely apt to illustrate this. These skulls, connected by cables and neon-lighted, illustrate a condition from which it is ever more difficult to escape today: that of mute interlocutors in a conversation that takes place in loops, seduced by a shining but empty discourse. It is necessary to set ourselves out to forget what we have learned and begin to speak without waiting for our turn.