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Gold like

Lúa Coderch at Nivell Zero

By Alexandra Laudo 05.02.15

The Fundació Suñol as an institution undertakes its exhibition programme along two main axes: on the one hand works that are connected with the Jospe Suñol collection from which selected pieces are displayed over the two floors of the building on Passeig de Gràcia; while on the other hand the Nivell Zero, located within the city-block courtyard, an annexe to the Foundation building, where the institute aims to promote more avant-garde artistic production and give greater visibility to contemporary works. This programme is undertaken through so called 'acts' consisting mainly of monographic exhibitions featuring young contemporary artists. Since the first Act 0 which took place back in the autumn of 2007 there have been numerous small scale exhibitions and experimental format activities at Nivell Zero up till now with Act 30: Gold, an masterful video-installation created by the artist Lúa Coderch.  

 

The main element featured in Gold is a video-graphic art piece lasting less than thirty minutes in which an off-camera voice recalls anecdotes and reflections of different kinds with analytical comments regarding some of its images, accompanied by a seductive audio commentary that runs parallel to the visual narrative. This in turn, is made up of several visual sequences which, though they operate autonomously establish common references with one other as they progress, triggering linguistic and other formal echoes between them. On a thematic level, the piece is constructed as a speculation on notions to do with appearances (and by extension the concept of image), and how it can form the basis upon which the social value and our sense of things is constructed. Gold addresses, directly or indirectly, issues having that have to do with the relationship between essence and surface, between container and content, and explores how these dichotomies are involved in shaping notions of trust, transparency, credibility and fraud among other things. Thus described, Oro might seem like a dense treatise on the aesthetic-ontological but is in fact quite the opposite: while it addresses such weighty issues, it does so in a warm and even an entertaining manner engaging with the viewer from the beginning. Perhaps part of this magnetism derives from the actions of the artist in narrating the story in the first person, incorporating anecdotes and comments therein that relate to her origins and career path, at least that would appear to be the case. We are not using this word lightly, given that one of the interesting things about Coderch’s video is how the thematic content of the work, the reflection on appearances and the tension between form and substance, is not only developed on a theoretical or discursive level, but in a subtle and intelligent way infiltrates many of the elements of the work: from the imposition of a female voice with a Peruvian accent (when one of the first things that the voice tells us, who we presume to be the artist, is that although born in Peru has no recollection of that stage in her life), to the aesthetic correlation established between many of the video images and the elements of the installation in the exhibition space, and through the formal ambiguity of some of these objects. Along these lines, for example, a rectangular element is featured whose surface is made of mirrored glass and therefore is more informative about its environment which it reflects rather than its own condition; or a panel which from a distance appears to be a piece of embroidered African fabric which is also present in the video but in the exhibition space turns out to be simply a paper reproduction; or a piece of fabric which also has a printed pattern resembling closed chests and half-open empty chests, a motif which reinforces the iconography used by Coderch in her discourse built on the apparent and the fundamental, the aesthetic and the speculative.

  • Gold like

    Oro (still) 2014 (colour, audio)

  • Oro (still) 2014. Video (colour, audio)

     

    Another interesting aspect of Oro is how multiple images that reference previous art pieces by the artist appear within the visual narrative of the work. To illustrate with some examples: a reproduction from the book "Debt" forms the basis of her work El Aspirante (the applicant); an imitation wooden surface over a plastic inflatable references the colossal project which Coderch presented at the Fundació Miró last year; a tubular structure recalls both Mueble-bar (cabinet-bar) as Eco TGWNDOHM, the latter is also referenced with the artificial bird that certain points we see lying prostrate on the floor; a pendulous arm similar to the ones attached to Chinese ‘fortune cats’ remind us of her work Hey Maastricht; an an iridescent wrinkled sheet of film with a picture of a tulip belongs to her work Semper Augustus.

  • Gold like

    Oro (fotograma) 2014. Video (color, audio)

    It is unlikely that Coderch has unfolded this collection of subtle references to her artiste oeuvre for the benefit of the ordinary lay viewer. It seems more reasonable to think that these playful ironic and poetic references are for the artist herself. But in fact it’s also true that this set of references could trace an inverse narrative function to the one that is constructed by the voiceover, talking about the artist but without apparently to do so. A narrative that cannot simply be read on an aesthetic level, through which it’s revealed and on which it’s predicated, but rather like alchemy, its value lies with what is hidden, what it is silent about.

  • Gold like

    Oro (still) 2014. Video (colour, audio)