Reiteration in the Works of Silvia Rivas

By Horacio Zabala
Catalogue for the exhibition at Fundación Alon, 2012

A picture exists in time, but it has
no “duration” in the sense it has in
a symphony or a film.
A symphony is executed in the space
but it’s not long, wide or tall in the
same sense that it is in a picture.
Luis J. Prieto

Intensity is the only thing
that matters
Georges Bataille

The space is firm, it’s dimensions are measurable. Time, on the other hand, is something that nature has divided into parts throughout the movement of the stars and the sky, the succession of the seasons and the days. Nevertheless, the facts of daily life are imprecise: it is only when urban civilization needs precision in productive work and in the economy that we begin to measure time.

Painting, sculpture, architecture, print, drawing, etc. are objects that remain in a state of repose: they do not change physical qualities with the passing of time, except for causes foreign to themselves. To a concert I can arrive late, and consequently, I will miss the beginning; to a painting, I can’t neither arrive late, nor early, as it will always remain without change before me. The painter does not decide the length of my contemplation to his work of art. I decide by myself. In the case of the musical work, it is the composer that determines the length of the piece, its beginning and its end.

Dance, music, theater, cinema, video, its combinations and variations as well as the performances and installations are ephemeral arts These arts of duration, have invaded plastic arts since 1960 in different ways (although its antecedents were originated inn historical vanguards). Since over half a century ago, mobile images (unstable, temporal), alternate, juxtapose, and tend to alter the aesthetic perception of fixed images (without metamorphosis, without duration).

The human eye, as a consequence of phenomena known as the persistence of the image in the retina does not recognize the successive phases off the movement further than a tenth of a second. By freezing the successive phases of the movement of a horse galloping (Eadweard Muybridge, 1887) revealed imperceptible, and as a consequence unknown forms. These, nevertheless, are radicated in space-time reality which we are part of. If we accept the analysis about the Society of the Spectacle and our unavoidable over-exposure to the bombing of images, we must pay attention to the contemporary art. Specially to those creations that deviate and interrupt the speedy flow of images in mass media, which makes everything, disappear and evaporate instantly. The work of Silvia Rivas displays and tells us about the time that goes by as seen from another point of view, from its slowness and distance.

Buzzing is created from borrowings taken from fiction and reality, from the artificial and the natural. It is a digital or virtual work, that is to say, it does not happen in a specific place, of “real reality”. Nevertheless it links to it in an indirect way such as, for example, language. The virtual (the possible) is converted to a world with “other rules” situated beside the real world.

Buzzing is the result of an exploration in regard to the intensification of some human emotional ties in relation to the simple fact of not being alone in this world. The tranquility understood as the absence of perturbation due to external annoying or risky phenomena is neither lasting nor easy. In the world there are countless insects, especially flies. They barge in when they want and their presence causes us irritation, sometimes unbearable: we consider flies repulsive and dangerous at the same time because of the possibility of infection: they are cosmopolitan and pestilent insects.

The work creates a space and a time where mobile images of human hands (real) with images also mobile flies (virtual) coexist endowed of the same intriguing characteristics as the live ones. To the “reality” of the hands, “intentioned” images of insects that, in some manner, gave place to an “enlarged reality” and a puzzling one were added. The scene, resulting in the interaction between the human and non-human, is meant as a transportation of a direction/sense*, a metaphor: pinpointing a fact that in turn points to another one.  The insects are a visible print of the in-visible (but sensitive) between the human being and some situations of its real context, symbolic and imaginary.

Buzzing is impregnated by time, either because the work displays in duration, like the melodic development structured in a musical piece, or because of its iconography, which evidences the tension provoked by a swarm of flies in movement. In this work, what happens with the passing of time? It is a time in which the present “extends” itself with insistence. The spectator expects (wishes) something definite to happen but nothing happens, he expects the cloud of flies to dissolve as a cloud of dust does, but the cloud comes and goes and its hostile buzz persists, increases, diminishes, annoys without a cause or reason: just because.

Because of the swarm of flies, the agitation of the protagonist is manifested in the spasmodic movements of the hands. They encounter in an uneven battle to chase the threat of the flies and in this way recover and maintain the lost calmness. At the beginning the hands remain quiet on a table: they reflect a moment of the daily life where time passes without any interference, empty and pure. When the flies appear the state of calmness changes. The hands move to scare them away. In the interval marked by the quiet hands (without flies) and the agitated hands (with flies) the notion of time appears completely different to its pure passing.

The work of Silvia Rivas has the rhythm of an agitated breathing. It tends to be the contrary to any appeasement, calmness and reassurance. How do we experiment time? It is the implicit question in this work: the protagonist cannot go back to her pacific “lost paradise” free from perturbation. Its own random vulnerability must be accepted. This means, the bitter discomfort caused by the unexpected repetition. Stupid and evil of the same (again and again the undesired). She must accept her luck of the “eternal return” of the buzz with all its negative attributes. The flies will prey on her light boredom and her distracted daydreaming that “kill time”, or better said, that kill empty time that says nothing.

© Silvia Rivas / 2015