Paratext #29 by Laura Benítez

Paratext n#29
September 26th 2018

By Laura Benítez

May Parlar (international residence)
Julia Varela (short-term residence)

When you attend Paratext you get the impression that Rod Serling is waiting for you on the other side, an impression that veers somewhere between fascination, fetishism, and terror; I suppose that’s due, at least in part, to the recreation of a story. Or perhaps it is mere longing, but no less terrifying nonetheless.

No no-work on the discourse

On this occasion, the two presenting artists, Julia Varela and May Parlar, addressed issues related to speech and storytelling. Evidently in a very different context than Rod Serling, or perhaps not so different.

In The Twilight Zone, it was common to use metaphors to explain socio-political issues, using the power of science fiction to address critical approaches to specific and complex issues that are
present in everyday life. Problems that, otherwise, could never have been revealed without going through (other) censorship filters. Problems that sought to generate a story through the
possibilities opened up by the allegorical tool of other speeches.

It is true that in the case of Julia Varela and May Parlar, the proposal focuses on not working on the lecture and the generation of non-linear parts, but there is the materiality of the image that is oppressed by the story of the presentation, by the narrated presentation that names the power and exhausts possibilities.


During the first part of the presentation, Julia Varela guided us through her practice. She opened by quoting Roland Barhes with all his fascist language, a statement of why she does not intend to
work on the discourse but to focus on the materiality of destruction, on the power of the image. Materiality which is present in Hijacked and which highlights the returning to the device, how we cannot ignore the apparatus in the relationship with the media as an intervened image.

Through the presentation, in which twisted screens appeared in an attempt to manifest their feasibility, image played an active agent that led us from image to image. We sensed the power of
converting audiovisual images into another physical dimension through the installation but establishing an abstraction through the representation of physicality in the audiovisual media.

The materiality of destruction was also represented in the narration of Mehr Fantasie, in which particles become devices. A disarticulation of the extractivist logic through the empowerment of
the material dimension of electronic waste, where the destruction of the device allows a subdivision of multiplicity of archaeological layers, forming a complex set of discursive relationships that escape through the cracks of invisibility.

And hand in hand with invisibility we went to the collaboration she conducted with farmers in Ciudad Real, where once again we were confronted with the fact that, as Eric Hobsbawm pointed
out, there is no record of the farmer as told by the farmer. Returning to Hobsbawm, one of the revolutionary powers of the farmers resided in their diversity, something present in Julia’s
collaboration in Ciudad Real, working on the imposition of discourse and the dichotomy of the violence of occupying a space and the power that is given here. From the dichotomy of how the potency of destruction or what we might call the “negative” in Saussurian theory is multiple but can be condensed into one crucial point: the tendency to ontologize and reify structure (Martín-
Barbero, 1978).


In the second part of the presentation, May Parlar projected some of her recent projects.

Starting from a proposal that seeks non-linear composition of video projects, May guided us into a dimension in which what she called traditional aesthetics were mixed in a game full of
connotations and symbols.

In her projects, May works with the power of the nomadic, what she described as a rhizomatic experience insofar as human concerning the multiple layers of the materiality of the image, of this,
intervened image.

She proposed an escape through the generation of performative images that serve as a vanishing point to the imposition of narratives, to the static imposition of normative structures, a kind of
untimely power that through dreamlike recreations were inviting us to delve into multiplicity. In this multiplicity that Rod Serling invited us to enter through science fiction not only as a metaphor
but also as a power populated by figures, as a strategy and counter-strategy. As a possible speech that confronts us with how to stop enjoying feeling ourselves touching ourselves through language, through the narrations that we impose on the desire to explain what already has an explanatory agency.


Categories: Paratext report |

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