The banality of evil

By Corinne Sacca Abadi

Sobre la muestra Aquí, Allá y Ahora
Galería Daniel Maman, 2003

The banality of evil
“For the millennia, man was what he was for Aristotle: a living animal and, moreover, capable of a political existence; the modern man is an animal that, in his politics, his life as living being is questioned”

Bizarre times, these are. The globalized world’s feeling of reduction and, simultaneously, its infinite offer make us face a paradox. The society of entertainment about which Guy Débord early warned, is over brimmed by the absurdity denounced by Gianni Vattimo of creating a transparent society crossed by the vertigo of communication. Millions of beings are baffled and immersed in a glittering obscurantism. Within this confusion, the image is preferred to the real thing, reproduction to the original, representation to reality, appearances to the being. Life has become worthless.

Everyday life has been branded with a wandering and helpless experience, whether in cyberspace or in the battle fields for many centuries. Fields in which suicidal armies jeopardize the planet to suffer the biggest of the catastrophes in order to defend a cause as confusing as contradictory. The most dangerous of evils, has turned to be the banality itself; the banality of evil involved us all: it is the indifference with which we accept horror.

The artistic experience is an invitation into knowledge that offers elements to help us think and understand the world, while throwing a cone of light upon our inner side. A work of art plunges into areas of our experience connected to pain but also to joyful experiences of high intensity. It is cohesive when promoting the desire of communicating or sharing it with others. Life and death, the beauty and the sinister, the ordinary and the extraordinary come together in a work of art.

Lévi Strauss described the artist as an anthropologist, or much better as the ethnographer who studies the specific field of culture of his time. We could add that he/she works as a seismologist who registers, moreover, the movements, vibrations and oscillations that take place inside the earth. It is about the intuitive perception of certain matters that hover or underline in society and that artists are able to capture and work on. There is no need to be a prophet, it is enough to catch and recognize what vibrates in each of us and transform it into a work of art.

Since its beginning, Nora Correas works focuses on the recovery of ethics and critical questioning. In the times of the dictatorship in Argentina, she addressed the issue of repression and its effects in society with her soft sculptures devoid of narration, poeticizing that unspeakable text. Nora Correas present work concentrates on topics that are born basically out of her reflections around the abuse of power; the apathy of enslaved majorities that deny their subjugation before the interests of the powerful; the passive acceptance of violence and wars orchestrated by a predating civilization; the longing for honorable beings capable of struggling against the absurdity.

The artist feels that the dispensability of spirituality goes hand in hand with the discredit on humanism. The combination of stupidity and arrogance, so human, dooms us to the political and media manipulation what, in turn, has an effect of infantilization on people who no longer try to defrost their right for freedom of information. Total communication is centrifugal and operates against its own principles. It produces a kind of media substitution of events and the censorship of history replaced by a slanted and fragmented image of the universe.

Man lives within indifference. We seized hold of the same mechanisms of those of the psychotic: it is enough to deny the evident, now we re-deny giving birth to the forclusion. The rejected reality is replaced, then, by a story, delirum?, a discourse that attempts to explain the inexplicable, As Argentines, it is now the time to verify the fact of having being used as guinea pigs by omnipresent economies which we gleefully adopted while looking for a helping hand. A promise to entering an artificial paradise that a few years later would have a bouncing effect that would drag us out of the system. It is clear that corruption and the local connection were essential conditions.

…Or Viceversa
Out from the street, even before entering the exhibition, we can see two apples installed on a structure against the crystal pane of the gallery. A second look allows us to notice the differences. One is made out of terra cotta and has been painted so as to seem real, the other is a real apple. Out of this counterpoint emerges that fact that the more attractive one is useless for its specific purpose: to be eaten. On the contrary, the more coveted fruit turns up to be false, sheer seduction. Nothing is that simple. While the real apple suffers its natural process of decay, the other one irradiates immortality. The artist discloses the typical stupidity that characterizes the human nature and bets that, between reality and fiction, our preference will be the appearance.

La caída
Two ladders leaned against a wall undergo a process of transformation: their first rungs are of iron, then of wood and the last ones are transparent acrylic rungs. As long as the material ascends, it loses its density and become ethereal. Beautiful metaphor to address the risks of power, since it appears to be that the higher we get, the more powerful we are, the closeness to gods let us become Icarus whose wings melt because of the sun.

The armors, the vests and the breast plates turn into an overdeterminated signifier that depicts the lack of the individual. This series, started in 1990, provides new versions today. A gray armor in whose interior a set of iron blades are piled to the infinite. The wounded substance is pierced by wavy metal sheets that are fixed as if they were laid across a body. There are breaks, scars and sutures scattered across the surface of the breast plate. These breast plates are also traces of the disappearance, of the absence; they remain as a reminder in the form of a monument that evokes emptied bodies: emptied of sense, courage and vitality.

1+1=1 is a structure of big dimensions whose interior shelters a lingam, totem that encompasses the masculine and the feminine aspect. Grey on the outside while its interior is covered with aluminum. Other pieces whose transparency connotes absences, can lodge bread, a horn, a brain, or a cerebellum made in black resin. A wire skeleton covered in resin discloses the empty structure while two boxes lack it inside like a Russian box. The vests armors point out to the emptiness of an absent body and play the role of the last dwelling. The artist seems to suggest that beyond the imaginary power that man exercises in his omnipotence, there are other strengths that operate the constant transformation of the universe that, ultimately, grants sense to the existence.

Many of Nora Correas works share the same spirit of that of the installations of the polish sculptress Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930). Like her, Correas chose for her first pieces the art of tapestry, a privilege expression in order to accomplish a visceral, organic and committed communication with the ideas. Being an artist of multiple technical and aesthetic resources, it is noticeable the relationship she establishes with the materials she uses. She possesses a unique sensitivity not only when working on recycled materials with her hands but also when very patiently threading fragments of very different origins so as to build a piece of great synthesis. In the same way, she can compound languages and opposite aesthetics, give birth to utterly achromatic pieces of work, somehow minimalist, working with cold materials such as steel or mirror and also with texts that aim at emphasizing the concept. On the other hand, the treatment she gives to the natural pigments, with which she dyes and colors her work, grants her an unmistakable and personal style.

Oropel verde
One of the largest walls in the exhibition hall vanishes behind a set of panels covered with big flies. Beautiful and blended in greens, blues, golden, they become the background on which an old naked doll stands out in her frailty even when locked in a crystal box. Unequivocally, corruption threatens, spreads, dresses in attractive colors. Can any creature resist her?
Nora Correas uses translucent resins to make her flies, then she paints them in fluorescent colors and blends the blues with pearly and metallic greens. The ancient doll represents the lacking and devoid woman, naked before men´s power. Panofsky points out that, in the bible and in Roman literature, the image of nudity was censored due to its indecency. The allegory of truth portrayed by a naked woman emerges in 1350, but not before the Renaissance and during the Baroque, this image becomes the most popular personification of truth during the Baroque, this image becomes the most popular personification of truth. The doll calls upon innocence in the wake of power.

Flies have been linked to the corruption of living bodies and, by extension, allude to the corruption of the social body related to politics and money. Since the times of the Spanish classics, the fly was given the signification of money identical to the sense it has in our “lunfardo”, and even Quevedo gives advice on saving the money/fly, perhaps, because as it happens with money, it comes and goes flying. The word corruption derives from corrompere and it was first applied to the corpses as equivalent to decomposing or rotting. However, it also refers today to perverting and, moreover, to bribing government officials.

In the middle of the room, stands a large recipient filled with oil and water which lies on a reflecting stainless steel structure. Seven skulls with some objects inside, and which are worked in resin, represent violence, greed, speed and emptiness. Violence is the cause of disgrace. Speed prevents the development of thought and consumes the experience of life, greed points at recollecting the consequences of ambitions when they are voracious and unrestrained. Emptiness recalls what still remains once the gods have died, a kind of vacuum that is both ontological and existential. Our ignorance is the sister of speed and its more visible effects are the lost of memory and the shallowness of bonds, the stupidity that goes together with arrogance. Has the oil become the unit of measurement of every simple thing around us, where is the individual?, who are we?, what have we become? Three big glass boxes are filled with sand arranged in different layers, and there are also stones and black pigments in a context of ocres, sands, reds. There are geological cuts that show the very long process of the original organic remains until their transformation into oil and its ulterior exploitation by man. In Correas work the blackness of oil has turned into a dark blood-like red.

Los maderos de San Juan
There is a wooden table with a hole in its center, underneath there is a pile of transparent loaves of bread, basic elements in order to survive; however absent and denied. The presence of salt that covers the table’s surface provides a rich symbology in its ambiguity; the salt of life as the lure and its sense and as alcohol onto wounds, in this case, the hunger.

The title of this piece of work recalls an old song that addresses the lack of pity and the sadism implemented by those who are not taken as fellow men. The “maderos” are not people, they do not belong to the human kind; not even slaves are they, therefore treated with no solidarity and consideration at all. Why are such cruel songs taught to children? And why is it that they adopt them naturally?

Platos nacionales
In Masticando vidrio, we see a platter made out of ground glass protected by a glass bell. Tragando sapos is a platter with “empanadas” (roll overs) which are of transparent resin and are filled with frogs. Subtle irony the one expressed by Nora Correas when describing Argentine idioms of upmost popularity.

An ancient artifact to spray ants, actually found in a flea market becomes very useful to the artist for unchaining her work. The tubular structure of 1.20m has a sign that reads “Argentine ant-killer” and comes originally with the unmistakable American flag on top of it. Utterly black, a small community of tiny little ants exiting the tube haven taken position forming the map of Argentina. Art, as dreams an myths uses polysemic images bringing together contradictions what according to the Aristotelian logic, would be unacceptable. The perennial ants; in their ambiguity, represent the death (besides the corpse) but also their present can symbolize the human aspiration to immortality. The anonymity of the insects as a group is linked to the survival of species, even though the price for losing the freedom is alienation. Since the ancient times, the ants have fascinated men because they exemplify the individual’s ways of alienation within a group and the strong tendency to automatization. The instinctive answers implemented by them with scientific efficiency and with severity are not enough to hide their condition of beings totally deprived of freedom to choosing to disobey.

In an upper space of the gallery, the visitor finds Manipulación, an installation that includes white guinea pigs, two series of pictures and texts. On the walls of the room, the artist transcribes a fragment of 1984 by George Orwell to which she has added question marks.

Is war peace?
Is ignorance strength?
Is slavery liberty?

How many more times will be told that in order to conquer peace, we have to make war? The new ways of slavery get combined with peculiar way of ignoring.

A series of photographs whose images suffered digital interventions help her to stage the topic of the manipulation of information. It is so easy to fall into the lure of the image and the speed of its rhythm that, incapable of thinking, we get caught. The comparison with repulsive animals leads us into a place of humiliation that we would rather avoid. One of the photographs is a close up of a rat standing on its back legs while holding onto the bars of the cage; her eyes denoting a degree of anxiety that is dramatically human-like. “I identify with them”, states Nora Correas. The clarity of the images fades away and they become blurred, ambiguous. We live within a false freedom, within.