ROBERTO CABOT / E-SCAPES
15. 09. – 12. 12. 2011
THE IDENTITY COMPLEX
Increasing flexibility, a state of permanent transit, the simultaneity of complex processes, linear motion ploughed asunder and undergoing transformation into a synchronous advancing of time, dependence on electric and electronic systems, all have led to a sea-change in the way people picture themselves. Where am I? Often, not yet consciously where I am nonetheless physically present – and then already gone before I have arrived. Awareness has a hard time keeping up and yet, thanks to its innate ability to evolve, has accelerated to the speed of light. Albeit at the expense of the quality of sensing and emotion – or does this merely create a different sensation? More likely the latter, because it is not as if sensing had ever stopped; but if we still sense, the question is, ‘how’. The logical answer of ‘superficially’, in the traditional sense, is inadequate to define this way of sensing with any precision, what with the stimulation of several surfaces at once and this giving rise, in turn, to yet another new quality. Alongside all this degeneration, on the positive side, there is the development of a kind of lightness, suppleness and tolerance.
We read of Immanuel Kant that he never left Königsberg during his lifetime and that he always followed the same paths; two centuries on, two thirds of the world’s population have the quality of regularly combing what there is of the world; worldwide, an average of 4.7 billion people fly every year.
Checking in at the flight desk no longer knowing where one is going, or to wake up in a hotel and not to know where one is, or then again, to be in a completely ‘strange’ place and not to feel fundamentally different from usual, these are the glaring consequences of living in a ‘consciousness between’. The state of ‘not yet there and no longer here’ conditions the conscious such that it either becomes dulled or attempts to take in everything at once, depending on the degree of its degeneration and conditioning.
More than any other, Roberto Cabot’s biography is an apt, not to say, tangible, illustration of the phenomenon of a highly conditioned ‘consciousness between’. As an artist he could even be said to be duty bound to attain the pinnacle of degeneration or of conditioning. He has opted for conditioning – or it for him? He has honed and conditioned his perception and his sensibility not only toward assimilating parallel worlds of images, but also to processing them. Born in Brazil and growing up speaking four languages (he now speaks six fluently), he has not only become a highly talented polyglot, but, not least by dint of that, is also at home in several cultures at once. Whether it be the French culture he nets, or the Brazilian, or the German, in all of which he maintains intensely active bases for his life, they all enter a blend and form layers in his work and there give rise to something utterly new in the fusion. Roberto Cabot’s exhibition at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro in 2005 showed a résumé of his in-depth exploration of concrete painting and its definition in space. Mesh-like landscapes covered floors, ceilings, walls and objects edge-to-edge. The much -noted exhibition, ‘Tropen’, at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin in 2008, was an analysis of parallel pictorial worlds shown on synchronised real-time web-cams scattered all over the world. The various real times met in him and at his exhibition, but still formed something of a documentary line-up, albeit a simultaneous one. But it was the artistic step that followed that would yield the fusion, the set of three dialectical steps, that lies in the merging of the two preceding processes and has something utterly new arise from them. Cabot’s step was his E-Scapes.
They read like the kaleidoscopic time journey of the identity complex that is, by nature, closely knit with his biography. Reminiscent of a snapshot, his photograph of Sugarloaf Mountain is as unreal as the memory itself of that rock. Only on viewing the panorama of London's inner city does anything resembling reality come about, one which the artist has not stumbled upon but which is created by his perception. Cologne Cathedral stands on Copacabana Beach and only then becomes real, for this image is the product of his conditioning, not of his imagination. The favelas are huddled round the Eiffel Tower. The levels of perception and their perspectives have always been a central preoccupation for art and attest to sublimated consciousness and time. From Leonardo da Vinci and linear perspective to the Cubists’ exposition of plan and elevation and to twentieth-century painting and Baselitz’s upside-down, back-to-front painting all the way to the ‘synchronised perspective’ of the twenty-first century, changing a view has been and continues to be grounded in a changed view. Such comes about from an enhancing and renewal of perception and quite naturally induces these effects in turn. Artists as almost none other are predestined to convey this, living as they do from their perception and from reflecting it and upon it, and from putting that in pictures.
The identity complex from which the synchronous layering of images comes about appears to apply to the twenty-first-century individual. Roberto Cabot gives us clues as to what we already perceive. Perhaps we just don’t yet know that we do.