Unwilling Spectator

Carlos Irijalba

Take the most usual spot in our everyday practice, the room, say, that one grew up in over the course of 14 years, observe the sparse experience that has been gleaned from it, and this will graphically reveal how limited our subjective spatial circuit is: from the door to the bed, from the bed to the wardrobe, from the wardrobe to the table… This sparsity becomes yet more evident if we transfer this exercise to the sphere of contemporary public space. The real experience of the Atlantic Ocean on a Madrid-New York flight is 8 hours of pressurised cabin, a long shout from any connotation associated with that huge mass of water.

On an intermediate scale, the circuit of interurban connections and spaces materialises in our everyday practice as a kind of distancing of the real, making adjacent spots ultradistant: like the simultaneous experiencing of the same point on a motorway, between a workman sweeping the hard shoulder and another person passing in a car at 120 Km/h.

Unwilling Spectator details these relative mechanisms of time and experience, with the support of parameters such as inertia or tempo. It takes the shape of an intervention upon one of those small gardened spaces set within a motorway ring road. A space that’s been encircled a thousand times by the circuit that defines it but has never been approached. A location whose experience is residual or null.

The first part of the intervention consisted of journeying every day over a number of weeks to the Laiguangying intersection on the 5th Ring Highway of Beijing in order to reconnoitre these spaces between roads and study how they are constructed so as not to be experienced. The incongruity of their scale in relation with one’s own, their layout, their tempo, etc. Having situated the subject dimensionally in relation to the place, it was decided as a second step to produce some spatial permutation by establishing a small bonsai forest within the isle the ring road encircles. A situation of synecdoche of the spot is thereby generated, where the radically contrasting tempos of both elements are dissolved and their absolute characters become more relative.

Through this presence and the accompanying documentation that took place over the next month, a new sense of the distance between the circumscribed element and its host was set in play.

Negative action over the next year and beyond opens up the object of this intervention to the degree of irrelevance that the place lends it and what happened in a location that is not its own gives way, unattended, to the previous continuum of excluding realities.

(Beijing 2010)

Carlos Irijalba is former resident at the Rijksakademie of Amsterdam 2013/2014, Graduated at the Basque Country University and UDK Berlin en 2004. Awarded with the Guggenheim Bilbao Photography Grant in 2003 and the Marcelino Botín Art Grant in 2007/08 also received the Shifting Foundation Grant and first Prize and the Revelation PhotoEspaña Prize among others.

Irijalba has exhibited at international Art Museums, including the CCCB Barcelona, MUMA Melbourne or LMCC New York.

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