Fifteen minutes to midnight I enter La Llotja in Palma de Mallorca. It hosts the art fair “Zeno Brains and Oracle Stones” of Jan Fabre -curated by himself, Maurio Mauroner and Joan Carles Gomis– until December. Both the dreaming and awakening energy of the wide interior space keeps pace with what the versatile Belgian artist does, in relation to the spectrum of the modern philosophical thought. La Llotja, seen as a constellation of antiquity and modernity through Jan Fabre’s artwork, recaptures my thinking in between time after an exciting night stroll. And suddenly by pure serendipity from a mere stroller I become the so called flâneur. It is time the negative stereotype of the ordinary huge and unclassified past was subverted by being transformed into a positive archetype of rethinking and reviving time. Fabre’s modern and at once mythical snapshots made mostly by pure marble –de Carrara- but also, in a more complex way, by silicon, pigment and metal, call upon the Sisyphus myth, inhabit the past of mythologies and at once shape new dialectical relations with the present in terms of poetics and politics.
The world of art, shaped by fragmentary words or fragments that come from gestures of spoken expression, resets the proper simplicity in order to replace it in a code of symbols; in a code of ex natural units from time in a sequence. From now and on, we move ourselves into a multi disciplinary time of participatory dimensions. As a result, the performer that exposes the artwork, attempts to play with a unifying effort of demystification between art and nature, avant-garde and life patterns. If this attempt succeeds, the symbols of the functional reaction are delivered to the spectators or spectactors, as the performance wants its followers to be. In the chain of Fabre’s art, consequently, we become aware of this symbolical and intimate link between the human mind –the cranium- and the burden a turtle is obliged to carry day by day silently and slowly.
Thus, if the name of Sisyphus is a cultural byword for human and body compliance, the image of the turtle Fabre proposes before our eyes is the natural equivalent that best describes the same problem as emblem in the same way the latin “nomen” has been reviewed by its component “omen”. Every modern man has a burden to carry daily and this is not but the mind, that is, stereotyped deductions and conjectures. Jan Fabre transcribes Sisyphus myth to make the historical meaning of human compliance visible and so even stronger. In a cultural background, work and pain are considered all over the world as the public object of collective memory. And they are inseparable from emotion and gesture. Furthermore, the name of Sisyphus develops a parallel story between the Sacred and the profane; as the former sin -delivered by the myth of antiquity to us- has the modern absurd pinpoint for counterbalance according to the latter modern man lives to work and does not work to live. So, this chapter of the absurd has been examined by Fabre’s eye in order that the visitors of the exhibition in Palma de Mallorca extract a personal message emerging from the artist’s political-poetical material.
As Fabre’s artwork is at once material and ideational, but stays at a sober distance from the pop modern contours by keeping a solid discrete line, I leave the place satisfied. I am recaptured by Albert Camus writings on Sisyphus myth and possessed by a strong reconstructive feeling only art can provoke to its lovers: the modesty with which every modern man complies with the rules of repetition while being on duty, in various working environments, is at once his victory and forms part of his history. In this conclusive sense, every worker has been already a winner, each time the “martyrdom” is in process. As Albert Camus pointed out, “any destiny can be defeated with contempt”…In conclusion, past myths are valued through art in new living social circuits, shaping present experiences, whereas memory acts as the factor of intersecting information and feelings coming out of this material transaction and its following integration. Fabre gives back to us the earthy smell of art refined; blood in White.