Saragossa

Jordi Colomer

Museo Pablo Gargallo

The title of the exhibit “Como en casa” (Like home) resounds with the echo of the bourgeois value of hominess, expressing a certain contemporary nostalgia for a “safe” place. “Como en casa,” in effect, parodies the familiar advertising slogan “todo en cast: sabe mejor” (everything tastes better at home). Indeed, it immediately becomes apparent that Jordi Colomer’s work is situated light-years away from that order of values. It deplores that hypocrisy of comfort, of a supposed wellbeing; Colomer builds, on the contrary, houses that, viewed through such a nostalgia, return nothing but a feeling of estrangement, of uninhabitability.

At the same time, however, there is an affirmation of private space before the obscene transparency and surface intensities that contemporary mass communications impose. In the face of this transparency, Colomer’s casas generate an opaque, reserved space of impenetrable intimacy. “Como en casa” is an exercise of resistance to be absorbed by the public reception of the work, which inevitably subjects everything to the despotism of transparency. Colomer’s entire oeuvre is charged with a mysterious poetry that runs beneath the work’s discreet appearance.

Innocent eyes cannot perceive the episodes of which the work may be a trace; but they can recognize them in the presence of an unsubmissive, affective, emotional intensity. Thus, the work speaks to those who feel, and reminds us of the need to retain our self-possession—to resist the alienation toward which the public management of identities within contemporary culture pushes us. The work Frase (Sentence, 1991) is paradigmatic of this opaque and indecipherable speech. The eye reads in it a rhythm, a form, a melody—but not so much a meaning, a signified. Colomer’s oeuvre constitutes a private wink that promises the spectator or accomplice that he will share a secret—which is ultimately never imparted: it suffices to know that there is an intensity at stake—or a blind inability to penetrate an opacity that offers no concessions. With this reserved affirmation of familiarity, the work initiates a questioning of the space of art as distinct from that of life. In fact, “Como en casa” negates the “other” space, the museum as the place of “autonomous art” (in this case, even on a material level; in order to install this work, they have had to cover some frescoes in the museum). This negation, however, is neither utopian or ingenuous. On the contrary, what Colomer’s pieces show to be false is the interpenetration of the sites of representation and of life, the density of that tie, and the effect of difficulty that, concerning the expectations of inhabiting its spirit, they impose.

In his previous work a self-reflexive game of staging the space of representation was already in evidence (the pieces evoked stage scenery). Those sculpture-stages were prepared on walls, proving the difficulty of inhabiting such a space of representation. Now the pieces rise vertically and become walls in themselves, with a bare minimum of “floor” that is inhabitable only for remembrances, memory details. . . . Colomer’s work is concerned, above all, with the difficulty of finding a home. This nostalgia is coupled with a consciousness of the impossibility of attaining one, since there is no other home for us but the “interpreted world.” And, as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, the House of Man is not inhabited without great difficulty.

—Jose Luis Brea

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.