Never the Chance

SOLO exhibition, RocioSantaCruz Gallery.
From 17th september to 21st of november 2020.


A tour around the different works on display in the RocíoSantaCruz Gallery ultimately reveal the synonymy between an apparently clear term such as chance, and a continuous fixed system that conditions the allocation of fortune. There are dice that always fall the same side up. And there are chance events that do not happen by chance exactly.


The title of the exhibition is inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1897 poem, Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard, where the text is scattered around the page, sliding and receding across the blank space. The typefaces vary. The metaphors of the creative process surface in an unsteady equilibrium. Words play with the multiplicity of their meanings. There is no convention that helps to track the suspended line. Nor is there any punctuation. Breaths are to be taken in step with the muted spaces.

While this poem has a beginning, we can agree that chance has caused the loose pages to suddenly turn and settle in a new succession, as if disturbed by a gust of air. Cast to their fate, the words of the poem form a new heading: Le hasard jamais n’abolira ..., the last expression of which is inscribed in the paper as a watermark.

The watermark is produced by the contrast of materials in the paper’s fibres. It is only really seen against the light. In this way, the end of the poem is a final key word, inscribed in the paper and fused with the material. Rather than obvious, it is implicit. Its complete reading therefore requires the adequate light, and this may hint at a flash of lucidity: a specific moment of the day, the fortune of a sunny day, or invisibility on a cloudy day.

That its reading is conditioned by circumstances might be one key to its interpretation, not only in its need for light, but also for movement. The pages make up a four-sided poem, to be read along its perimeter. Each transited page falls out of step with the univocal face of reality. We return to the start and the meaning has changed.

We could say, then, that the dice is a fixed control structure that collides with chance. There are dice that always fall the same side up. And there are chance events that do not happen by chance exactly. This dice-poem implicitly traces an abrupt journey through the gaps of history – true territories of disappearance – which, like signs of a wasteland, await fertile recuperation.

Being a space of ambiguity and multiple interpretations, Mallarmé’s poem toys with the future. Through the contemporary prism, my reading examines the metaphorical space of collision between emancipation and patriarchy. The urgency of change provokes confrontations by which demeaned groups (which is not to say minority groups) entitle themselves and bring about new social realities; where the acquisition of the demeaned voice is the true foundational shot of the political subject of modernity.

To attribute the recognition of modernity to an aesthetic conquest of a space-filled poem, exclusively individual and masculine in merit, is to ravage part of the harvest all over again. The real modern fracture is the destitution of the centre; the demise of universality at the hands of the part that speaks for the whole. One must raze the ground in order to touch it, not to scar the creative and thinking capacities of all the parts discarded from the generic; qualified as Other, Secondary. Hence the necessary altercation in the order of inherited words; the moral disquiet among the established contributions; the necessary wrangle for the centre and its core agents.

A tour around the different works on display in the RocíoSantaCruz Gallery ultimately reveal the synonymy between an apparently clear term such as chance, and a continuous fixed system that conditions the allocation of fortune. The cards come pre-marked; the paper on which we record our present is pre-marked; and this mark is a structural armour which is so assimilated, it drones almost imperceptibly in the background. The trick is to attribute to chance a systemic problem of inequity that conditions, and keeps conditioning, the outcomes of individuals of various genders, origins and conditions.

Like an acanthus that noisily ejects its seeds far afield, a number of directly related series of works spring up around it that bring nuance and breadth and set the resonances of the poem against each other. These works expose the vertical perspective of the words’ meanings. They show their thorny side and thus ironize, anything but randomly, about the construction of meaning and the simplification of historical account.

One of the meanings of the word SUERTE (Spanish for luck, fortune, chance) refers to the earth. The dictionary says: 11.f. Part of arable land, separated from another part or parts by boundaries. The connexion with land and the fruit it yields invests the word with the potential of work, which was not always rewarded. Suertes thrown to their fate. Hard toil exposed to the elements. In the SUERTES series, we see a concentration of fragments of arable land, cultivated and cultivable spaces. At the end of the page, where a chapter ends with a final suspended sentence, collects the already present space of latent blanks, awaiting resonance.

The blanks on the page were already present in the printed text. The option of expanding them presents itself only to those who exercise freedom. Conversely, people living with restrictions have to make do with found or already present spaces —those that you make your body fit into— are the only spaces permitted for transgression. Patches of arable land that occasionally yield the exceptionality —the chance— of dazzling recognition in the midst of exception. Chances that do not present the measure of the rule by default, but rather the state of exception that accompanies their demarcation.

Punctuation is also a sign of order, of the correct functioning of meaning and separation. In Mallarmé’s poem all punctuation has been dispensed with to allow the freedom to associate meanings thrown up by the fragmented sentences. The blank spaces mark the pauses in the syntactic articulation and the cadence of the reading.

In the LINDES (Boundaries) series the play with punctuation mirrors its opposite. Punctuation multiples. Each full stop and new paragraph leaves suspended a piece of text and a full stop. Each full stop and new paragraph links with the next, building a narrative continuity. They are terms without end; they are ends that branch out, intertwine, become ensnared and entangled in the vision of the end of a limit, without ever reaching it.

Separation into domestic cells has traditionally prevented women from recognising themselves as a collective. New paragraph. Change of subject. Equivalent realities in paragraphs that did not touch. The task of articulating random or isolated points has the value of threading stitches with the same thread: they write a shared story; they come to the rescue of a collective strategy. They point and shoot at history. They underpin a context that explains causes. They signal a destination. To such an extent that, as props, they support a future open to writing.

The watermark conditions the support on which we construct the text. The series ESTADOS TRANSPARENTES (Transparent States) explores the page as material; it buries into its structure of fibres to see if the paper can be separated, the watermark extirpated from its entrails. The medium loses thickness, becomes thinner, almost translucent. And with this search, the aim is to transcend the state of things peculiar to the written page. The poem is an experimental space of transcendence. As Clarice Lispector said, in it the perpetual struggle “between the word and the non-word” is played out, mired, engulfed and sustained.

Mar Arza, September 2020