The Platonic myth of the world of ideas has vertebrate to Western thought in its cadences of crisis and debauchery, serenity and conservatism. This tale, which explains our existence, as well as the physical-sensorial and perceptible state of the things that comprise the world, as a hologram of a pristine and sudden universe of total and abstract entities –matrices in the end–, is the livelihood of our faith in absolute truth. Even better, it is the structure that orders the representation of the world we have confirmed and kept inside our identities for thousands of years: the elemental dichotomy between two dimensions, one habitable, another pointless and imaginary. On the other hand, this story of classical Greek thinking has worked as a method for ordering the human experience in its appetite for taking over the sensible world, either from its loyal and strict claim, or from its supposed dismantling. We all agree, just as our ancestors did in very different ways, on the existence of an elemental world that seems to predestinate events in these valleys; a world that governs our behavior, which defines good and evil, that guidelines and orders. For our purposes, at the peak of the poststructuralist thought, at the highest moment of the des-imagination and des-virtualization of the faith, this absolute kingdom of truth is commonly associated with culture. Clifford Geertz defines it as a series of control mechanisms which governs human behavior, a sort of extra-somatic sources of information.
One of the most sophisticated systems of conservation and transmission of information concerning human culture is writing. The word, in its own morphological structure, implies iconicity and drags after it an endless series of content –crossed in references– along with alliterations and paroxysms of phenomena of natural or social order, all of it reduced at once to the intelligible form of superb basic abstractions. The word, without a doubt, is a lethal weapon. Perhaps for these reasons Iván Capote clings to it to tell an alternative story about human race: he inserts in the flow that nurtures its roots, in the spurious appearance of accuracy expended by its uncertain body, the boundless fury of a doubt.
Are words manifestations of the absolute truth, or on the contrary, are they absolutisms of a truth that pretends to be regal and authentic; a truth that manipulates, that adulterates, that does not even exist? Were words at some point in the history of the world, the effective possibility of ubiquity, success, or, at least, trap of things? At what exact moment the absolute truth was not considered an aberration anymore? These questions flow, through the devastated field of more than one sensitivity, before the treatment Capote gives to that very particular issue. This uncertain bait affects everyone. Are we supposed to assume, due to the wildly deconstructive effort, the identity of the individual-victim of his trap, the large size of his gesture, that this creator is an alleged assassin? Anyway, in his hands is the bustling and hot blood of appearances in that dialectic game that threatens the world, in which the truth is dissipated through its own difficulties. In other words, perhaps more accurate, the analysis Capote makes about civilization, more exactly of its physical and social dimensions, from the use of the word as a motif, from an allegedly poststructuralist position, becomes post-post-structuralism. Thus, he threatens the integrity of that school of thought by submitting its methods to doubt, energizing the possibilities of the reason and logic facing the status and the standard that have been established in the representation of the world and the historical present, in a decidedly metatextual gesture.
However, is not only the word, but also the look that encircles it, constricting it in uninterrupted flow of information, the thematic core of Capote’s ideo-aesthetic universe. His objects, built as springs, share two states: the physical one, related to the immediate immanence of its shape, and the intellectual one, concerning the field of knowledge that human perception generates about it. In most of the cases the relationship between these two dimensions in the artistic object will be resolved through the incitement to assume a particular position –no matter which one– in the deconstruction of the artwork, which can be understood as a temptation of intellectual order. In other cases, it is expressed in the formal structure of the artwork, which deserves a real and unspoken position to enable a proper perception of its meaning, thus gaining a relentless physical-vectorial dimension.
In general, his procedure consists of the appropriation of a concept determined by ordinary practice, and moreover, marked by the speed of history and collective use, and even by the discourse emanating from power; by carving it in stone in its written form, he highlights it as a body impregnated by the wisdom of ambiguity: a kind of poetry of the cognitive flexibility. Marked by this guideline, ruined neologisms cling to the sheet of paper, to the cardboard, even to the severity of bronze. It is true that at the beginning his procedure could be summarized as the implementation of mechanisms of rigorous review, capable of making implode of all kinds of images in the word and, therefore, in its concept; but in the immediate present he weights up his performing possibilities concerning description, a procedure that is influenced by the linguistic side of conceptualism.
In his more recent personal exhibition at Galería Habana he presented in unison objects of accused three-dimensionality, drawings, projects; all and each one of them were installations of a cluster of ideas in the space. On this matter, one of the most remarkable artworks was No More Words (Lies), a glass filled with water inside which lie, cast in bronze, each one of the letters that compound the phrase “no more words.” Intolerance is the label that seems to be outlined in the almost overflowing surface of this delicate container; on the other hand, discourse, speech and manipulation are in the bend of its depths, settled in the nether world of the glass. A letter, perhaps only one more sound, and the overflowing is imminent: fatal balance that shows stress, intransigence, anger. The textual condition of reality, the symbolic character that each one of the parts of social life has, and therefore its submission to the rules of an indoctrination sometimes cross-dressed as ideology, pragmatism or even religion; the subtly programmed nature of human existence; they are all possible causes of crisis for the conflict unlinked inside this artwork. It could be also the unveiling of all those structures of management and control that organize nowadays the logic of the globalized world and which are supposedly out of the human capacity of apprehension and representation, of the insidious applicable speeches and their traps and, eventually, of the justified practice of a new kind of nihilism, settled in an unstoppable capsize, a stinging that hurts the back with the coldness of a saline burn.
This artwork made by Capote works as a possibility of representation of what for some time was supposed to be non-representable: the world that exceeds the project capacity of our neurons spreads over the skin in a feeling of vastness that, paradoxically, reflects the human vulnerability to the immeasurable. The certainty that we are lambs guided by the word of others is expressed in a confusing cramp, futile electrification of the weak mass, of earth and blow.
In this artwork, Capote has made a sort of closed universe in which tolerance is related to the capacity of the vessel, the liquid means swallowing, assimilation and understanding; letters allude to the guidelines of a game in which culture controls, determines, limits, while the tension on the surface of the water alludes to skepticism and the vastness to self-consciousness. The interpellation of this scenario to several conflicts of everyday life is valid. Anyway, this is a possible metaphor of the immediate present, of the attitude that the civilization assumes before the risks of present times, of power and current status; of the fallible human belief in their absolute freedom; and even of the deficiency and impudence of a particular speech about the thought, the logic and the world that, in its unflattering and, paradoxically, revolutionary contractions, has intended to order human experience, and establish as reason.
Another remarkable artwork of that exhibition was Mantra Occidental (Western Mantra). It consists of the letters of the Anglo-Saxon word own cast in bronze and stuck in the wall due to the force of a bunch of sticks of incense. If we look at the history, we will find that the first appearance of the word mantra appears at the Rig-veda, one of the early texts of the Hindu tradition. This book, of oral composition until the Middle Age, was dedicated to the gods when it was written on the legendary Sanskrit. Mantra meant in its narrative framework, instrument of thought, hymn of adoration, overwhelming Word, request. In Eastern philosophies such a tool of knowledge about the outside world is essential and takes part in a sort of elemental faith. On the other hand, for the cognitive world of the Western civilization this is not more than an unseemly object of exalted exoticism. Meanwhile, Capote generates a displacement of senses by associating the concept of mantra with egocentrism, a cultural behavior that based on selfishness and the segregationist component that follows it, nourishes the hegemonic policies which are imposed on the rest of the world in quality of law, order and dignity from Western Europe. He uses for it the word of Anglo-Saxon origin that means at the same time possession, award, recognition, access to the truth, sameness and keeping of their own interests. The word own carries the shared meaning of having, granting, acknowledging, admitting, and selfness. The key word that governs the Western diligence is hallmark of false civilization and dignity. It is, at the same time, image in which protocol appearances, policies of faith, respect, even hypocrisy blur.
However, a symbolic phrase has been also inserted in this mantra: mortality. Incense, although it could work as an act of unwillingness of the world of senses from which the construction operating in the artwork has been extracted –Orientalism has raised the appetite for more than one stereotype–, here it declares the expiry of those high egos that consume, with the collapse of the policies structured in its style, the true nature of the world and man. Mantra Occidental is an apology to the finite nature of the ideal of life, moral values and culture that characterize the well-paid civilization in its disbelief regarding the supreme idea of transcendence.
On the back of that rainy afternoon, the power of those fragrant smokes aroused the blood and drove it through a gentle cause. The effect it caused in the body was the irritating anointing of an immeasurable universe, to the skin, to the bones, to the temples. It was the world in its essential, volatile and hasty state, crouching against some forgetful bodies. Perhaps it is true what they say about the religious function of this dramatic mechanism. No one, having passed through the nebula that flickered in the jaws of that cavern, would doubt of any possible purification and, suddenly, of a flooded sacrifice. No one will doubt of the significance of this life and, consequently, of its immensity. Would have Plato surely imagined this way the atmosphere of those distant lands inhabited by the Ideas? Anyway, in this mystical space man is disarmed of pride and vanity; he is released to the always confusing and questionable experience of leaving laconicism, changing the perspective, and admiring the existence as a divine non-representable gift.
The presence of incense sticks in Mantra Occidental is not a symbolic imitation; it is rather the precise enunciation of a threat. When they are lit up, in their soft fading, an intended transformation will be set up, as if the ego of thousands of years of predation could still disappear before the uncertain figure of eternity. If only unbelievers could testify in the language of humility: damn sham, this fire of futility.
We must not ignore that, although in a very refined way, that symbolic element is a stylized image of the syntagma incineration and, correspondingly, of the coercive figure of the bonfire. Is it an allusion to the famous “burning of vanities” practiced in the Middle Ages with the intention of purifying more than one elegant and boastful possessed?
At the other end of this room is the artwork Rage, which is perhaps one of the starkest ones of this scene. If we return to the universe that depends on the word and the game of its internal structure with it, Capote puts on a platform of aseptic white, bronze letters which make up the Anglo-Saxon word heritage. He has stablished in its body a basic dichotomy: some letters have been broken, revealing, as a subterfuge, the word rage. Thus, sticking to the ambiguity of this language of universal value, he unifies the concepts heritage or patrimony and rage: one lies half asleep inside the other, as if in the first enunciation, since the beginning of time, the implied accusation that humanity is defined in the dosed use of violence would have been clung to it.
On the other hand, through the use of the word heritage, he displaces the coordinates of time and space and extends the phenomenon to all of human history. Inheritance or patrimony is definitely what has been given to us and on which we must build our own fortune to leave it to those who come after us. The way he uses it emphasizes the sense of eternity, of precondition, of final law, to respect. Thus the excess of anger, the rampant violence in its multiple variants is sketched as natural, genetic, essential and allegedly everlasting condition of human existence.
Now, could we assume that the choleric heritage we human beings share is a precise reference to the power exercised by and from the culture? Does Iván Capote encourage a specific position on the issue? His gesture is far from being affirmative. By itself, the concept of heritage that plants its skirmish after Rage generates an extraordinary link, very close to the concept of responsibility. Broken inheritance what we have received, and fractured will be what we will bequeath. It is necessary an effective transformation of our perspective of life, in short, it is urgent to act in pursuit of a change.
Rage is a clear allegory to the sleepy rhythms of this unhealthy story we call history and, more exactly, to its violent shocks amid barbarism, violence and death; contradictory image for a power that pretends to be worthy, great, just; nourishing foundations of humanity and the state of civility. Rage is the testimony of what has happened to the world in our hands.
If we consider that mankind has justified its dominant nature and its survival as a result of a fundamentally predatory behavior; that we have even conceptualized it as an attitude of biological nature; it would not be restricted to say that Rage is a sort of mirror in which our reflection is showed crude and infallible. Iván Capote’s oeuvre is, more than a bunch of projects, installations, sketches and cards, a cluster of images spanning fiercely the social status of mankind and as a result, the universe recreated after its will. His lexicon is demystifying more than deconstructive and, paradoxically, is full of a new mysticism, only comparable to that one of certain things. In his actions, the variants of a basic eroticism that affects art, thought and rhetoric with its glow of simplicity and pragmatism are scheduled. He is a speaker, eventually a cynic person and a definitive thinker.
In several occasions we have thought of him as a master of the desiccation of the sensorial elements of art, and at the same time, a devotee of the backwardness of conceptual art and its influences. On the contrary, his language is that one of knowledge and his images, a sort of neorealism or, if we prefer it, new figuration. What is sensorial has been refined to reach features of courtesy and sophistication, depending on a taste each time more aimed to delights of cerebral and intellectual nature. In his hands reality is a severe abstraction that displaces the appearances of the world, pure cognitive lubricity.