Matter of Time
By Rodrigo Alonso, 2001
On the video-installations by Silvia Rivas, to be exhibited at the Centro Cultural Recoleta (Recoleta Cultural Center) between July 31st. and August 20th.
“To regard the river made out of time and water, and recall that time is another river”
Jorge Luis Borges
Greek epic has devoted widely to the deeds of heroes that were anxious to die in its stories. In this obscure heroic longing, we can only guess the mandate of a sense of transcendence that differs from our present circumstances, the key of a time that is only acknowledged in the memory of those who continue on the road of life. For those heroes, the final goal is to survive the passage of the years in a story o in the memories, extend their own existence in an historical continuity, which will never be conscious.
The centuries that separate us from those beings, place us in a conception that is radically different from our destiny in the world. Due to different reasons, our relationship with time has turned immediate, almost urgent. The present claims us with so much strength that everything seems to be reduced to the fleeting instant of the event. And, however, even completely beyond the intensity of the heroic existence, our conscience of time is as strange to our daily events as to the daily life of those legendary characters.
Silvia Rivas’s work focuses on the titanic task to recover our relationship with the conscience of the time elapsed. Based upon the intensification of this conscience, her video installations disdain the precisions of history and the uses of the economic measurement of time, to explore the depth of the psychological events, shaped in the continuity of their creation in the electronic image.
In fact, her installations are no other thing than a multiplicity of sceneries of time, theatres that, in their technological complexity, attract us, paradoxically, towards an almost primitive universe, governed by pure sensoriality, by the individual experience and by the presence of nature. The images of water and rain return once and again, emphasizing the fluid temporality of the natural cycles. Its insistent presence, prays as continuity with the world, prays as irruption in the exhibition space, does not cease to remit the powerful metaphor of Heraclitus and his time, which is also the river.
However, Rivas’ universe is only apparently immediate. In reality, it has been created in a tight relationship with contemporaneity and its constitutive dislocation. Far from the homogenous constancy of nature, the images of her video installations are multiple and fragmentary, they arise from clashes and confrontations, they are impregnated with sense in their raw simultaneity. They are a vehicle of other temporary manifestations: instants and moments, permanence and succession, constancy and intermittence, happening and imperceptible mutation, duration and impossibility of repetition.
It is no coincidence that many of these characteristics are also qualities of character and of psychological types. This particularity makes deep sense in the work of the artist, while the only temporary measurement of her installations is freed to the attention and conceptual route of the viewer. The images are slaves of the temporality of the support, but the spectators are not tied to those demands, being able, on the other hand, to perform their own cut-out on the set, highlight an instant above the others, dye the imaginary device of their own subjectivity, activate the duration and the full flow of conscience.
Rivas insistently remarks this intimate relationship of her images with a time that always has to be understood in human scale. The tense image of feet the nervously climb a stair, or the pain shown in the moans of a voice that cannot be recognized, are some of the instants that remit to the subjective events. But she also pulses a subject in the red river that names blood. The metaphor of life and death as horizons, as instants that define individual time, appeal to the identification of the audience in the “here and now” in contact with the work.
In another registry, there are disruptive elements, fragments of emptiness reflected in enigmatic geometric figures, “black holes” that make the insistent coming and going of images relative, imposing their lack of temporality to the inevitable succession thereof. These are instants of bewilderment, and at the same time, a necessary complement for the caption of different time grading, while it is indivisible into discreet units and may only appear in hierarchy if it is shaped into different manifestations.
This diversity extends into the forms in which the installations present the temporal “matter” in space. Some invade it, other modify it by sections. They speak about the limits, but also about the unlimited, of the existence and of its projection. And between both poles, they name the importance of the diffuse outlines of the present in artistic creation itself.