The Nada project is a reflection on the use of words and the invasion of advertising currently taking place around the world.
We are surrounded by words. Words are always present in our everyday lives. Messages on advertising billboards, on walls and façades, on shopping bags, cars, buses, the underground, lorries, windows, floors, roads, street furniture, plots of land, television, the press… this constant onslaught of messages brings us to a saturation point where words loose their meaning.
The trivial content of information reaches us through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. We have become immune to receiving empty stimuli, as words and advertising invade our public spaces. Our space has become a marketplace, causing unprecedented visual contamination where our senses are exposed to endless vehicles carrying empty messages. Words are no longer the vehicles that transport us to the land of reflection and meanings and get lost in the communicative vacuum of advertising.
While conducting the project we paid more attention than ever to all of these messages, words and symbols laden with content and which normally go unnoticed amongst the chaos of information. We became aware, almost to the point of desperation, of the saturation of our communication channels. We were able to prove that it is impossible to find a space devoid of a message.
Once we have awakened the latent sensitivity to this stimuli which subtly exhausts our senses, going out into the street becomes an almost lysergic and overwhelming experience that submerges us in a confusion of necessities and an untidy drawer of meanings. And yes, this plasticised reality, this globalised nothing is present in diverse corners of the globe. The appropriation of public space by meanings colours our landscapes from Barcelona to Peking and from Mexico City to Cairo. And the conclusion seems to be that, while the forms may vary, the essence or message remains the same. In this global environment, needs have become globalised and stereotyped, despite the –sometimes- abysmal differences between the different settings. The project was an immersion in the emptiness of words, in the context of the nothing, in the globalisation of the nothing. With its subtle ways, the nothing creeps into our lives every day disguised in imperative colours. The objective of the project was to clearly and nakedly demonstrate the conceptual emptiness in which we move, and the word nothing was used to create a space that transports emptiness through all channels. The NOTHING appears repeatedly; a term that expresses emptiness and non-existence, but whose presence nevertheless airs our saturated environment, the horror of the emptiness of our settings, and fills it with existence by placing it in everything. From this emptiness, the NOTHING opens the door towards reflection; from silence, it becomes a scream towards questioning. What is the reaction to the awareness of the NOTHING, to a message that honestly expresses its meaning… and this meaning, while, in principle, empty, aims to prompt a reconsideration of our coexistence with words.
The selected images presented here belong to a vital project dealing with the human behaviour within space. I am trying to analyse the human capacity to destroy and yet mutate its natural context, from the most harsh and aggressive to the most subtle way. The human being creates and adapts; changes and modifies; interferes, transforms, perverts the natural environment according to its needs and interests. The human being harms the space, the context, conveying expiring and ephemeral needs. The humanized landscape becomes a modified landscape. I wonder about the immensity of space and its magnificence. Nature surrounds us and the human being keeps on damaging it constantly. There are no virgin spaces left: it does not matter how far they are, the landscape always has a human trace behind. Humanity keeps on creating new material, impulsively, unconscious that it will becomes obsolete by a never-quenching thirst of own improvement.
I am interested in the immensity of spaces and their magnificence. Nature surrounds us and man does not cease to damage it. There is no more virgin space: as far as we can look, the landscapes still bear a trace of human passage. Man is constantly creating new materials, compulsively, forgetting their almost immediate becoming obsolete in order to satisfy an intangible thirst for progress.
Roads and paths, habitats, cities, communication routes, energy distribution… an endless and constantly growing list of ephemeral elements. Surrender is involved in any process of creation. Most of these objects will be forgotten, although they still surround us, like this van 4000 meters above sea level and without any human traces for 200 km around. The world has become its own cemetery.
The landscape is our mother tongue. Our first means of communication, before the first signs and symbols. The language of the landscape can be read, spoken, heard, even imagined. Everything that we generate in the landscape speaks about us, tells us. The archaeological site of Palenque (Mexico) describes a society that disappeared millennia ago, as our roads, buildings, abandoned power cables, nuclear waste and non-recycled materials will one day describe our generation.
This photographic selection narrates the subtleties, in all their nuances, of human intervention on its environment. All these elements that strike in the simplest, most harmless way.
Iberia is a district in the province of Tahuamanu situated in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru. For centuries it was inhabited by the indigenous peoples who lived on the banks of the Tahuamanu River. In the second half of the 19th century, Bolivian colonizers led by the Suárez brothers expelled the natives and began the exploitation of caucho or shiringa (Hevea brasiliensis) for the extraction of rubber and latex. In 1903, 38-year-old Asturian rubber worker Máximo Rodríguez Gonzales and his brother Baldomero came to the region in search of shiringa.
In the beginning of 2019 Aleix Plademunt travels to Iberia and discovers a natural paradise with endless hectares of Amazon rainforest of incalculable wealth, currently persecuted and attacked by politicians and private companies on duty. It is cyclical story. The book introduces the origin of the name of the town of Iberia, as well as some of the consequences of Maximiliano Rodríguez’s arrival in the region: displacement of native peoples and indiscriminate exploitation of raw material for export.
Today there is a great movement in motion with street art. This is perhaps where the meaning of our time is played out: in the city, because our world is becoming and will become more and more urban; on the walls, because the life of people passes more and more by public places, meeting or transport. Precarious, because everything in our world, from work to objects, from feelings to contracts, becomes fleeting.
Great artists use walls as a backdrop to express themselves, thus combining into a new art form both wall painting that has always existed since Lascaux and the transience of living art, born with the first dances. And so these walls offer us temporary masterpieces that disappear as day dawns.
The work of Catalan photographer Aleix Plademunt merits a closer look, and he shows here his Nada series that was created in a number of countries including China, Japan, the USA, Turkey, Greece and Mexico. The artist installed huge white canvases with nothing on them but the word Nothing in the local language, in order to denounce the commercialization of public spaces and words.
Aesthetic work, at the same time as reflection on one of the biggest subjects of tomorrow: a major stake of the future will indeed be that of the preservation and the extension of the domains of the free, that is to say of democracy, faced with the invasion of the reign of scarcity, that is to say of the market. And if the market invades everything, including public space, free space, does it make sense of it? Which brings us back to another question, even more general: is the market the reign of nonsense? It is at least that of the reduction of meaning to value, and of value to price. And of the progressive reduction of everything, each gesture, each feeling, each being, at the price that can be attached to it. At the price in currency; transferable, objectivizable, meaningless.
It is the importance of this work to make us reflect on these two fundamental questions, that of the market value and the price of things; that of meaning and gratuity. From the sense of free. Including that of art.