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Almudena Lobera
stART van 10 april tot 12 juni 2017

And now memory is here, dictating to you, 2017
Almudena Lobera
'And now memory is here, dictating to you', 2017
Print, black curtains, text
45 x 200 x 220 cm

Last summer, the Fotorama laboratory was commissioned to scan the newly restored panels of the altarpiece The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers. At that time, the artist Almudena Lobera (Madrid, 1984) was immersed in the development of her work Epiphany. Mise-en-scéne, that takes this master piece as its starting point and, more specifically, the theft of two of its panels in 1934 and the disappearance, to this day, of one of them.

In And now memory is here, dictating to you (2017) Lobera uses a photograph that documents a specific moment in the scanning process of the Van Eyck's work by Fotorama. In it we can see one of the directors of the laboratory from the back, Johan Delcour, calibrating the light of the equipment on a white panel, in preparation for the subsequent scanning of the panels. The artist confers an anachronistically prophetic sense on this image, as if this action of projecting light on a white surface was not just a test process, but a moment that underlines the impossibility of scanning —and therefore, retaining— the other missing image of Van Eyck's panel.

In Lobera's work the white surface operates as a symbolic object, as a transmitter, capable of invoke from the present an earlier historical fact and of showing the current moment as an anomaly. It is a white that shows a dysfunction, that insinuates an unexpected reverse in the supposed fate of Van Eyck's image. Lobera interprets it in an epiphanic way, as a sort of almost magical filtration of the past in the present. Thence the title of the piece, in which memory assumes the condition of an imperative subject that affects on the present through a mediator. And now memory is here, dictating to you is a phrase extracted from the film Scénario du film Passion (1982), by Jean-Luc Godard, in which at one point the director speaks in front of a blank screen about his ideas for a hypothetical film. This white screen is, in Godard's film, a space of speculation, a surface that —like the white panel of Lobera— invokes from its emptiness, from its absence of image, all the possible images. The white screen of Godard and the white panel of Lobera participate in a certain visual ecology, showing all the images in power without showing any specific image and preventing us from the disappointment that sometimes joins the conversion of an idea or a memory —by nature abstract and impermanent— in an image, fixed and concrete by nature.

Lobera turns the photography with which she works into a cinematographic screen, enlarging it to real scale and placing it inside the showcase, in the glass of which the title of the work is shown in its original condition of cinematographic subtitle. The photo becomes a photogram, a film converted into an instant, and at the same time constructs a trompe l'oeil, as the passerby is shown as a simulation of the interior of the laboratory, offering the false possibility of observing the work that takes place inside. The photo-screen is flanked by curtains that function as mediating element between the space of the passerby (that is the street and daily life) and the space of the image and the representation. Both this curtain as the screen of cinema, the photography and the trompe l'oeil allude to our condition of spectators and to the devices that have been conforming throughout history our way of looking and seeing images. The white panel also refers to this, but in another way. In our hyper-visual contemporaneity, in our world saturated with images, the luminous white of And now memory is here, dictating to you constitutes, paradoxically, a claim of the veiled, of the opaque, of what remains hidden, and invites us to think (and therefore, to imagine) what we cannot see.

Text by Alexandra Laudo