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Chrysalis
Original title: Crisálida
1989
Leather, synthetic leather, metal and sand
Dimensions: 44.5 x 41 x 300 cm
Reference: ACF0527
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In Crisálida, Adrián Alemán use the ideological and stylistic methods of object art, such as irony, the fragment, semantic decontextualisation, the name, odd designation, provocation and museum exhibition. Within this sphere, he brings a symbolic and iconographic component of poetic content. One must also consider what is implied by a chrysalis, the final stage of metamorphosis, to tackle an apparently hermetic work that refers to one of the darkest periods in recent Spanish history. It is impossible to go on discussing the piece without mentioning the moment it alludes to. Each fragment of Crisálida is one of the cases used to carry the old Noticiarios y Documentales, films featuring ‘News and Documentaries’, commonly known as ‘No-Do’, that were shown in Spanish cinemas during the Franco regime. In the early 1950s, modernism began to be interpreted as a break with the past. At the end of the decade, this idea was already entering a crisis, and it was in the period of postmodernism that the very notion of the avant-garde as a movement was questioned in order to defend the idea of transition, of the gaze that focuses on the past and tradition. So Crisálida has a poignant, biting component that places the debate on art in a state of transition, ecstasy and perversion. Beneath a cold, clean repetitive appearance, the twenty-six leather cases contained the propaganda films of the Franco regime. No-Do was the window through which Spanish people looked out onto the reality of the world. The memory of a large part of our recent history serves as a point of departure for a movement towards another social, political, cultural and—why not?—even personal stage. The metamorphosis Alemán alludes to is made to measure for us. The fragments refer us to a whole that has been lost. Inside the cases there is nothing. Absence is the material used to name the past, but it is also the stuff our dreams and perversions are made of. The symbolic dimension of the chrysalis makes the formal simplicity of the execution more complex, and a range of readings open up as the constituent elements are emptied of functional content. The set of cases arranged in this way helps to eliminate the difference between the artwork and the object for use, bringing out a lengthy chain of meanings and associations evoked by the semantic decontextualisation of each fragment and the piece as a whole. The incorporation of mass-produced industrial objects links this work to Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, while the repetitive series composed of a single element brings us close to Minimalist ideas. At the crossroads of languages where the work operates, Alemán takes the value of the word as the origin of thought and the objects themselves from Conceptual Art. The word becomes the stuff of knowledge and takes us back to the origin of things, just as the cases that make up the chrysalis suggest a return journey, not an outward one. Underlying the return is the fundamental essence of the future and of what will happen afterwards. There can be no progress without a past, no future in oblivion, no form without a precedent. In the chrysalis, space and time are condensed—past, present and future—like a seed that germinates when the conditions are right.

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