IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS
These are the last things, she wrote. One day they will disappear and never come back.
AUSTER, Paul "In the Country of Last Things", Pág.1
In the Country of Last Things, like Paul Auster’s novel, presents a world where architecture and space constantly vanish, preventing individuals from building their own identity relative to the space they inhabit. The Watchwomen series consists of four images reproducing different spaces and times of the same action, it captures an instant where all times cross, a meeting point of all spaces. Although the starting point are the lead mines in Linares, which shut down in the 80s, the final photograph does not correspond to any actual place. We stand before a fictional place in the manner of Piranesi’s Carceri d’invenzione. The great theatricality of the position of its dwellers (an army of women in black) makes us doubt whether they are on the guard against a threatening danger or performing a tragedy using the architectural ruin as a backdrop.
LINAREJOS MORENO, 15-05-06
THE MUSIC OF CHANCE
First encounter with Linarejos Moreno
She enters the sixth edition of the ABC Competition for Painting and Photography and wins with a piece entitled “A House with Corners”. I recall that prize as being one of the most adventurous and committed to the cause of contemporary art that this competition - which in recent years I have organized - has awarded. Adventurous because the more conservative spirits in the art world, with their love of everything in its particular box, had trouble accepting her work. But since the point was not to agree with them but to reach out to those discourses that were genuinely striving to achieve a contemporary vision, we viewed positively the ability of Linarejos Moreno to condense into the same work each and every creative language: from photography to painting, without forgetting digital treatment and even architecture. That said, however, it was only possible to reach this opinion after cold and hard reflection, for her work itself is, at first sight –its visual impact – also cold and even distant. We were not even capable of going beyond the linear intersections of the image to discover its true essence. We remained stuck at the theoretical handbook level, but with the subsequent development of her work we have had to grapple with the real questions posed by Linarejos Moreno. In fact, we now also know that she refuses to be categorized according to this or that discipline or label, such as photographer, video artist, etc. Instead, she prefers to see herself as a narrator of stories or planner of enigmas.
She returned from Paris with the following baggage: a photograph of her house, on whose walls she had drawn some helicoid forms and formulas, as well as different parts and layers of the wall itself which she had extracted, exactly as in the double sequence. This was not the image of a memory, nor was it a longed-for space; it was rather a type of time capsule, where even breathing was difficult. “A House with Corners” also involved combining digitally different images. In fact, that airless and almost soulless space did not actually even exist, the point being that given the way it was presented to us, it could have belonged to all the people who had lived there, or none of them at all. It was in a later exhibition that Linarejos Moreno presented a montage or scenography with the layers extracted from the wall, and, as in the trees of life and science, each section represented a world, a destiny, a place, a story: hers and those of all the people who had passed through that room with corners, and no views. Nothing more simple and logical, but at the same time nothing more complicated. As in life itself, our destinies are separated like branches snapped from a tree: those of the people who had lived in this fictitious room, and mine with that work and with Linarejos Moreno herself.
Second encounter with Linarejos Moreno
We are in the latest ARCO contemporary art fair. In the first few hours of the first day, rushing round the corridors and stands. I have to reach conclusions quickly, establish which way the market is moving, and, if possible, discover new artists. In fact, I need to extract five artists from this morass to feature in the newspaper who I work for. In the space occupied by the Llùcia Homs gallery, I am met by the work of Linarejos Moreno. It immediately has my attention because, amongst other reasons, it is always good to find that a prize which has been awarded to an artist may in some way have helped them on their way. Of course, she is definitely hard to forget, not just because of her unusual name but also because of her work, which involves the viewer in a mysterious game of visual seduction: it traps you and even drowns you. These feelings are confirmed when, at home that night, I discover that on the midnight news on television, in one of those sweeping shots that takes in the whole fair, the camera focuses for several seconds - which for television is an eternity - on the work of Linarejos Moreno. Either the world or television is going mad because this work has none of the usual requirements needed – it is not scandalous, striking, or eccentric – to attract a crowd of people. Or a camera, which, in this case, amounts to the same thing. That image of hers had to transmit something different, and I find myself with her for the second time in the same day; I had not been the only one to rescue her from the ocean of art on view. Finally, I wrote about the photography which is the first chapter of the work entitled “In the Country of Last Things”. That was all. At that time, I knew nothing at all about the different pieces that belonged to this series, of the scenography used or their narrative discourse. Quite simply, I was surprised to discover Linarejos Moreno amongst the chaos of an art fair, and that I hadn’t been the only person to do so. Our paths had crossed again, twice now in less than a year, and, in between, other stories and other looks had intertwined us, because I would have liked to ask the person operating the camera what it was about her “Minervas” that had drawn the camera’s lens towards them. Something seemed clear to me: that “House with Corners”, lived-in in the past but uninhabitable in the present, had become an open-air scene, invaded by mysterious ladies dressed in black, wearing masks and carrying guns. A scene lived-in in the present of that image, but uninhabitable due to the rarified air of a tragedy that was about to take place or that had already happened.
Third encounter with Linarejos Moreno
The artist calls me to see whether I could write the text for this catalogue, which had to cover not only her work to date but also what she will exhibit in Llùcia Homs’ gallery. And we took us our starting point that image rescued from ARCO which will form part of this exhibition entitled “In the Country of the Last Things”, whose name is taken from the novel by Paul Auster. By chance our paths have crossed again; fittingly, it was also Paul Auster who wrote “The music of chance”, and it is effectively as a result of a series of chance encounters that this text has been written. And if Linarejos Moreno names her exhibition after the title of one of Auster’s novels, it is only right that the title of this short piece should also recognize the American novelist, who is one of the artist’s most evocative sources of inspiration. In short, as in the work of Paul Auster, our story is nothing more than a fortuitous crossing of paths.
Now we know and understand much more, such as she extracts or steals lumps of a wall that she later photographs, or tries to rescue from oblivion the scene of an abandoned lead factory, as she does in this series. Once again, this is a montage that mixes different disciplines: photography, digital recreation, performance art, but at the same time, it is nothing of this. It goes beyond the more constrained boundaries of art to configure a new environment, a new scenario, new characters, a story within a story or an enigma within an enigma.
Linarejos Moreno is not interested in portraying uninhabited spaces or places, such as her house in Paris, this factory which belongs to her childhood memories or an abandoned warehouse which can also be related to other moments of her life. This ground has already been well covered; other photographers have documented the abandoned space, which is in itself no mean feat. Instead, Linarejos Moreno aims to reconstruct this abandonment in the scenes recreated in her photographs that, like Russian dolls, hide stories, one within another. At the end, a scene appears, a Greek tragedy. They are spaces lost in space which oppress through their manifest ambiguity of principles, and that also have no end.
The theatricality of this mine would not be completely tragic or classical without the appearance of the choreography of women dressed in black, their faces hidden by animal masks. We imagine that they are women, but they could be men. Nothing is as it seems in terms of sexual or gender roles, but there they are in front of us. Here, Linarejos Moreno cannot overlook the importance for her of Max Ernst’s collage novel, “Une semaine de bonté” and while we are on the subject of her artistic influences here is the list she gives on a scrap of paper setting out her own thoughts: Paul Auster, Giorgio de Chirico, Duchamp, Ernst, Ilya Kabakov, Tracey Moffat, Juan Muñoz, Panamarenko, Tarkovsky. An interesting physical or chemical or even mathematical mixture, since there is also a place in the list for the Japanese mathematician, Johan Maeda, who writes computer programs of equations that draw designs that are later used in graphic design. The music of chance, yes… but not completely, at least in the sense that we imagine mathematical conclusions not being reached by chance, although chance may have a part to play in the long journey that is constructed on the basis of an incomprehensible geography of formulas.
We continue to pull out dolls or scenes in a perfect spiral, I don’t know whether for mathematical reasons or by chance in purest Paul Auster terms: in this exhibition, as in others by Linarejos Moreno, it is not just a question of showing a work or a series of works; they also have to construct their own narrative discourse in the gallery rooms.
For this reason, next to the central installation “Birds of bad omen” and “Family Matters” are presented. The first of these is composed of a series of falconry hoods that are suspended from the roof by lines, like escape wires out of somewhere, gathered together with others from which plaster moulds hang that seem like birds. Perhaps all of these elements could have come out of, escaped from, the photographs, the mine, the scenographies. Linarejos Moreno likes to refer to time capsules, to “Memory Bunkers” (as one of her works is called) and the gallery could well be one of them, because that is the place where all the elements and all the stories that have taken place and that have yet to happen in her life and in her work are mixed. Like her own studio, or the one where she will go and live in the future or in many futures, her own and those of others, in one of whose corners the genesis of Linarejos Moreno can be found. There stands a series of photographs from the 1950s portraying different scenes from a butcher’s shop of the time. That warehouse and those images that she rescued from the later ruin belong to the memory of the artist herself and of those who live in them. And without being conceptual and without being artistic and without being anything else than what they are –photos showing local customs, portraits of an era and of a way of life - they seem to tell so many stories and enigmas as those that Linarejos Moreno has later wanted to stage or rob in “A House with Corners” or in “In the Country of the Last Things”.
Each photo is a time bunker which is continually becoming bigger and more oppressive. It is not for nothing that she is now preparing a series to be called “The Exterminating Angel” and working on the project “Stalker”. Between Buñuel and Tarkovsky.
Fourth encounter with Linarejos Moreno.
Without doubt, the one that has yet to take place. We are now installed in one of her time capsules or space-time bunkers and at any moment we may hit the stage. Our paths have crossed and the contemporary scenario evokes so much abandonment and destruction that Linarejos Moreno will not have too many problems finding locations. We will be waiting there.
FICTIONAL ARCHITECTURE IN LINAREJOS MORENO
JOSÉ LUIS CORAZÓN ARDURA
Since 1998, when Linarejos Moreno begins the project Arqueología Industrial Ficticia (Fictitious Industrial Archaeology), her work has been characterized by the documentation of spaces about to disappear, trying to attain a state of estrangement linked to the memory and the intimacy of that which is barren and sinister (Unheimlicht).
Nevertheless, these projects do not only have a documental function, they are in fact related to the representation of space that Foucault called heterotopic, a place bonded to the intersection of perceptions, where the phantasmagoric, the enchanting, and the passionate can be found reaching a space where a narrative plot is developed that alludes to the alteration of reality.”
José Luis Corazón Ardura.