Txomin Badiola

Galería Soledad Lorenzo

In Txomin Badiola’s new show, he abandons the formalist spirit of his earlier pieces, which were created in a constructive orbit close to Minimalism (and even to Jorge Oteiza), and throws his work smack into a critical deconstruction of contemporary narratives. Here, in addition to three large-scale photographs, he presented three installations that combine all sorts of things—video monitors, chairs, photographs, movie posters, books, sculptural-constructive elements, found objects—in an entropic mixture of materials and themes. In LM & SP (Un Hombre de Poca Moral y Algo de Persuasión) (LM & SP [A man of little morality and a bit of persuasion]), 1998, for example, a large wooden construction dominated on one side by a blown-up stock photograph holds an assortment of objects, among them three monitors playing three different videos (each made by the artist), whose characters include a soccer player and a hooded terrorist.

In these installations, two principal themes reveal themselves: The construction of representation in present-day society, and the question of identity within that frame. For Badiola, the work of art is a screen onto which the flow of representation is projected, like an antenna receiving a flow of electromagnetic waves. The artwork intercepts the various discourses, stereotypes, and references that construct our private and collective imagination.

It is worth imagining each piece as a kind of short film that records a specific “cut” of time-space. There is a certain distancing of the artist—a certain coldness—in the choice of the cut, and that is what gives Txomin Badiola’s work its analytical character, moving it beyond the strictly expressive or merely self-referential. At the same time, the artist unveils more and more secret worlds, as if he had very discreetly undertaken a process of communicating private memories. This allows us to understand a little better his obsessions and worries, but obviously the work’s interest transcends that personal dimension, and in that sense the antenna metaphor is particularly apt. For central to Badiola’s work is his ability to insert himself in the very middle of the flow of modern communication, in the midst of the constant bombardment of images, the multiplicity of sensory stimuli, to which we find ourselves subject in today’s world. At times, referents that appear foreign to the artist’s own personal sphere—hooded terrorists, soccer players—are intimately mixed with the subtle yet obvious revelations of his desire. The discharge of intensity produced in this collision between the unknown and the intimate is doubtless what makes these “accumulation pieces” something other than small moments of organized chaos: Thanks to him, they become precise, revealing readings of ourselves.

José Luis Brea

Translated from Spanish by Vincent Martin.