The exhibition The Skin can be read as a set of independent works which, together, build a very particular scene, acting the works as pieces of a puzzle. One can see that all the works that are part of this exhibition come from the interest I have in the elements that change; or which are subjected of a transformation with the time passing by; or which are able, by themselves, to reflect it some way.
On several occasions in my work I have conducted my research around the “Time” – from different points of view, but understanding it always as an element that causes changes in our physical reality or in our memory. Always fixing my attention on its action on the elements, especially on the overlooked objects, those that are around us without much importance given to them. This time, my research led me to a secondary concept, which is directly related with the “Time” and “Space” – the “Absence”. Concept that, to me, is very important nowadays. Since, currently, after living in abundance, many suffer from the absence of what they no longer have. Now we are well aware that we have lost something and, thus, we can better understand this concept.
I have developed this project from two opposite positions that, I believe, to be the most used today and in all the media – As defined by Michel Foucault in Le Courage de la Vérité, Parrhêsia (Parresia, speaking frankly) and its opposite (Rhetoric) are the starting points for this project: working between these two opposites, to generate a set of uncertainties, and ambiguities. "...In order to have parrhêsia is necessary that, while telling the truth, one face the risk of offending the other, the risk of his anger, of his rage ..." and "... the practice of parrhêsia is the complete opposite of what is, after all, the art of the rhetoric.” Here it is necessary to define the opposite of the honest man that is the rhetorical man, the one that uses the rhetoric: “That man who may say much more than he thinks in order to make others believe it is true”.
From these two positions - disguises, opposite skins – I have found a similar way to compose and to produce the works of this exhibition, such as Stephane Mallarme has defined the two types of words: the “crude word” and the “essential word” – giving to these works, these same essences, in order to find the ambiguity that emerge from all of them.
In conclusion, it can be understood as a representation or a reproduction of moments of absence, reproducing the very moment when one discover the changed skin of a snake, which indicates that it was there, but no longer is. Reproductions of coats on the walls, elements that relay to others, and the certainty of knowing that they are not trying to be "essential" and "crude" and "frank" and "rhetorical" – Demonstrating the absence, here, as a tribute to the overlooked.
The exhibition can be seen, therefore, as an accumulation of skins, of covers, that invite us to think about their events, their circumstances and to live in this moment, which is now a bit longer. As a central piece of this show, exemplifying the demonstration of the practice of the rhetoric of an absence, it is the Pool installation. A large plastic sheet, another skin, placed on the floor, eluding that a hole is there in the ground and, simultaneously, covering a pool that does not exist, aiming to make us believe that it is real and that one could actually swim in it. Presence “present”, past, future or impossible, the reproduction of an element of the memory, which makes no sense at all.
Reflecting on the absence from the "snake skin", in this project, I return to one of the most usual elements in my work and an important part of my creative alphabet, the furniture. I have always kept a fixation on the environment around us, and on the objects that are closer to us, as they represent us perfectly without referring to a direct representation of the human being. In the work Skins and Scales I have dissected a series of armchairs images, transforming them into different objects, and into skins empty of content, of structure, in a certain hollow fetish.
In other photographs, Skins / Absences, I attach a vacuum to the seat of a chair, adjusting to the seat an air diffuser, and exposing a nonexistent interior. This diptych that makes the link between earlier works, and also between the honesty and the deceit.
Lastly, I present the video Mine, produced between 2014 and 15. In it, I also represent another skin, the skin of the landscape that is transformed, without notice but brutally. I recorded the work done in a surface mine where the excavations are filled with water in the course of two years, creating lakes in which the life and the presence are palpable. In the video I also show the process of filling these same excavations, the movement of the earth and the consequent disappearance or transformation of the landscape.
Jaime de la Jara, 2015