Structures to talk (one and six) 2017. Engraved hand blown pirex glass.
Broma interna, romance & contagion. 2017. Single channel HD video, color and audio, 26’36”
In the last year, Claudia Pagès has developed a body of work focused on the analysis of language and the linguistic processes that define and condition its social use. Thus, writing and the spoken word have become the main tools of her work, two independent and complementary processes that also affect the performative roots characteristic of her artistic practice.
Publishing through different linguistic structures, Talk Trouble is intended to be a full-fledged exhibition, a scenic display by which she shows all the layers and detours of her research into speech. At first, her interest in linguistics points to both epistemology and biography: epistemology because she explores the roots of language, delving into its origins and its translations into other tongues; and biography because she incorporates direct experience, plays with everyday situations and challenges us with an intimate relationship with words.
Despite the temporal intensities called for by each of her approaches to language, here Pagès stresses the importance of an exhibition that can distribute contents falling into two basic categories throughout the Sala Gran of La Capella: those referring to the text (a book, a video and an audio piece) and those that become an object (drinking glasses, paving stones and a plastic false ceiling).
When we enter Talk Trouble, the first thing that strikes us is the false ceiling. It hangs too low, giving it a temporary, ephemeral and transitory character, transforming La Capella into a kind of fair stand, where the coldness of the light and the paving stones raised by modular methacrylate structures grant us an unexpected grammar. The ceiling falls and the ground rises. Rather than objects, the stones, the methacrylate and the plastic plates are linguistic utterances turned into things. And whilst we try to put names to them and recognise them, the texts seem to flee to the far side of the room.
In the back part of the entrance, we find a small published book entitled Rage, Home & Insults. In it, Pagès explores the linguistic tensions that arise from the imprecise use of non-maternal languages. In this case she focuses on English, with dialectical situations in which we do not fully control the meaning of what we say or hear. The book includes one long and slow story and another quick and immediate one that reads like a flipbook.
Next, the first chapel shows the video Bromas internas, Romance & Contagious, a live radio recording in which Pagès tells a story while continuously changing between first, second and third person. Through contagion, her narrative voice speaks as a group, a table, saliva and a person to affect certain alienating uses of language. Inside jokes, catch phrases, the Romance languages and the use of English as a vehicular language works here as contexts of exclusion.
In the second chapel, we find the audio piece Emissions, Fools & Bonding. Here, Pagès speaks as she analyses moments of alienation and uprooting caused by non-verbal communication systems. Some passages that appear in her narrative come from the book Mental Radio (1930) by Upton Sinclair, in which he tells his experiences of telepathy with his wife; the book The Praise of Folly (1511) by Erasmus of Rotterdam, where foolness is the driving force; and Neurolink, Elon Musk’s new company, devoted to designing brain implants that can merge biological and artificial intelligence. Three case studies that place language as a third transobject.
In brief, both the texts and the objects that make up Talk Trouble stress the improbability or difficulty of connecting with them immediately, smoothly and comfortably. We see a good example of this interference in the drinking glasses that accompany the book, video and audio piece as a narrative and objectual accessory. These are simply glasses with small engraving drawings. Everything is recognisable, but at the same time, we cannot help but suspect her presence in the room. And here, in this semantic instability, is where Claudia Pagès’ interest in language lies.
David Armengol, 2017
Photography: Ikram Bouloum and Pep Herrero.
Rage, Home & Insults. 2017, publication 84 pages, 700 copies.
Structures to talk (from glass to bowl) 2017. Engraved hand blown pirex glass.
Emissions, fools & Bonding. 2017. Audio with video subtitles. 27’56’’
Structures as floor. Structures as ceiling. 2017. Montjuic stones, methacrylate, nails, PVC plastic, wood.
During the exhibition, a reading of all the text was performed by Aleix Clavera, Noela Covelo, Ameen Metawa and Claudia Pagès.