The Art of Answering (II)*
The heart and the Lungs is the third and last ‘moment’ (the artist prefers this term to any other) of the cycle The Moustache Hidden In The Beard, for which Francisco Tropa has been producing complex exhibition situations that bring together disparate formal elements, techniques and disciplinary fields: drawings, sculptural pieces, graphic and photographic prints, mobile devices, film projections and the most diverse kinds of constructions. Contingent upon the place in which each moment is presented, the installation may also differ slightly. Finally, the cycle is completed by three publications, which prolong and partially echo it and constitute more than mere summarizing or documenting catalogues.
A mix of incongruency and deliberateness, compositive meticulousness and nonchalance, firmly situates Francisco Tropa’s work within the sphere of a Duchampian lineage, particularly one that includes such figures as Georges Perec, René Magritte, Marcel Broodthaers and, broadly speaking, those twentieth century’s...avant-gardist works dedicated to poetically tear apart the narrative dysfunctions pertaining to the word, the image and the relationship between both.
The whole environment that integrates and envelops the cycle is aimed at awakening the detective impulse in the viewer. In the hope that the collection of disperse clues, of a visual and literary nature, might explain motivations and procedures, we try to take note of minute evidences and apply a sweeping inquisitive gaze to the ‘crime scene’ that opens itself up to us fragmentarily. The narrative, however, is far from forensic. The closer we examine what seems to have been left untouched, the more we feel like part of some sort of laboratory experiment, interrupted at an advanced stage but nevertheless far from over. Mental images that aspire to be all-encompassing prove disconnected, inconsistent and inconclusive. Here, ‘to investigate’ means accepting the difference between solving a crime and facing an enigma. While in the first case a retrospective sequencing of pertinent facts is crucial, in the second, the narrative is a power unto itself – a continuous unfolding of language in itself, which draws and projects us onto a superficial abyss, which simultaneously constitutes its depth.
Francisco Tropa is fully aware that today art is an ambiguous, somewhat suspicious category. However, that does not prevent it (particularly for its most committed practitioners) from being an area where answers take shape that, in their peculiarity, are a ‘matter of life or death’. To be sure, the variety and abundance of answers now at our disposal did not lead us toward the one answer that would save us from a fatal destiny; the devices, apparatuses, pieces and sets in this cycle designate a constant and tentative practice – an art of answering – in which the beautiful, that outcast word, resides in material situations that preserve in themselves an intersection of narratives without any hierarchy or mutual exclusion, and which are as empirically credible as they are open. Clear and obscure, vague and precise, these gestures throw veil after veil over the figures of destiny, causing an entanglement between language and the unanswerable. THE-MOUS-TACHE-HID-DENIN-THEBE-ARD.
Manuel Castro Caldas
*Version two of a text with the same title included in Francisco Tropa’s limited edition of silkscreens The Moustache Hidden In The Beard, published in 2018.
Entrada actualizada el el 22 jul de 2021
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