In the last essay of the book Desnudez (Nudity), Giorgio Agamben raises one of the questions that invite us to think about ourselves from the outside, as if the discourse were observing us. The Italian philosopher says that, although men have reflected over the centuries on how to preserve, improve and consolidate their knowledge, for a science of ignorance we still lack the most elementary principles.
Seen from a philosophical point of view, this argument is so impeccably built that it cannot be questioned, for it warns us against some penchant of thinking for its own solipsisms. However, considered from the domain of aesthetics, it becomes unexpectedly weak, for we could even argue the contrary, that is to say, that over the centuries, art and artists have devoted themselves to explore where knowledge becomes disorganised, which ways we have to free ourselves from that which besieges us, how – stuck between the urgency to conquer that reality pushes us to – we overcome our successive losses.
Disorganise, dispossess, survive, or, in other words, cut short any kind of consensus, flee from the rigours imposed by essentiality, remain in the middle of what is diluted: these are three frameworks, three gestures that may allow us to catch a glimpse of an eventual zone for non-knowledge, an area in which ignorance may develop itself.
If I have mentioned these three hermeneutical cuts it is undoubtedly because the trilogy Fissures by Oriol Vilapuig is based on them. It is a work that, following the example posed by Agamben, also explores how the mechanisms of knowledge are fissured, what impulses define a position from which to look at the world or fight against it.
Therefore, Fissures I (desorganizar) (Fissures I, [Disorganise]) evolves around the idea of fear as a transforming force, a kind of wave that violently crosses that which is visible, changing the substance of things.
The quotation by Emil Cioran that accompanies this polyptych seems to tell us that fear may allow us to imagine other eventual orders of reality, and that this very same fear is not only ours but also that of the very images, the six images that we may see arranged in this exhibition that "look" at us like spectres that get inside and at the same time move back from their own status.
Like an object illuminated by a light that is on the verge of fading away, when things are too intensely observed, they flicker, producing a kind of dance or vivifying choreography. We could say that this agitation bears witness to an impossibility, that of remaining trusting and loyal before objects; however, at least in Fissures I, this lack of fixity that makes us jump from one image to the other also constitutes another order for what has been seen, perhaps a new status for our sight.
Otherwise, Fissures II (despossessió) (Fissures II [Dispossession]) gets into some notions on eroticism related to Georges Bataille's work, and, more particularly, into the idea of dispossession, which the French thinker considered a confusion of bodies moving towards obscenity.
Somehow, giving oneself over to someone else (dispossession), the term to which the title of the work alludes, originates in a divided impulse that struggles between abandonment and prohibition. This is why prudishness, and even Puritanism, not only appears as a reverse for nudity but mostly as the place from which eroticism is invoked.
"There is no being without fissures" asserted Bataille; that is to say, it is not possible to embrace the sacred ecstasy of the body without feeling the anxiety brought about by desire, without the rearguard to which prudishness throws us, without the liberation offered by eroticism.
It is precisely this discontinuity, typical of erotic passions, this ontological fissure that scratches the inner experience, placing it face to face with its not-knowing, with its not-being, is also visible in the way of arranging all the triptych, which stands together, so to say, on the basis of its very cuts, its intervals, its silences and its faults.
In the same way as fear disorganises some logics, interruption destroys any sequential possibility, any sentence or thought. In this regard, all the visions making up Fissures II show bodies that open and close themselves, interiorities that offer and hide themselves: blinkings that provide instant images torn by silences, phantasmagorias harassed by their respective fantasmata, according to Aristotle's definition of the images produced by memory. Finally, Fissures III (supervivències) (Fissures III [Survivals]) explores the idea of loss and the figures of Pier Paolo Pasolini, particularly the destroyed faced of the filmmaker by those who killed him on the beach of Ostia in the early morning of November 2, 1975.
Vilapuig himself has written on this subject: "The images where we can see Pasolini's dead body are especially harsh due to the cruelty of his executioners, as if they had had not enough with his death and wanted to erase his body by disfiguring him, like a gesture of iconoclastic destruction."
Indeed, the "devoured" face is an element that very strongly structures this polyptych, which, furthermore, seems to follow Pasolini's dictum on man's body as a scene for intimate and social rebellion. But cinematographic references do not end here. According to what the artist himself has pointed out, we could also refer to the beginning of the film Persona by Ingmar Bergman, where the sequence of heterogeneous instant images provokes in the audience a very strong visual and psychic shock.
In this sense, the idea of "montage", which the philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman has traced in Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht and Sergei Eisenstein, among others, may allow us to discover an eventual compositional method for the images and texts of Fissures, whose mechanisms of dissociation between general view and detail, entirety and fragment, reconstruction and quotation – the last one being an element that is always present throughout the work – insistently explore in depth disparity and disagreement as a way of giving new meanings, as a way to penetrate that which is undistinguishable, that which is shapeless.
There are moments when the world seems to show the taxonomical structures that order it, offering us this epiphany that we call lucidity; conversely, there are very short moments when the abyss, the successive abysses – just making use of a term that Cioran likes very much –, provides us with a fair measure of our incapabilities and our raison d'être. Nevertheless, in the middle of both, simply because we are afraid, or for reasons of survival or dispossession, we bear witness to the dislocation of reality, something that invites us to regard ourselves differently, something that reminds us that when we commit mistakes we are never completely alone.