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View from the project Blast Effects at Opening, Arco Madrid 2021





View from the project Blast Effects at Opening section, Arco Madrid 2021



encoder decoder (I), 2021 | 20 inkjet prints on cotton paper



enconder decoder (II), 2021 | 12 inkjet prints on cotton paper



If you get your information here, leave it here, 2021 | 3 inkjet prints on cotton paper


Blast Effects is a project that was presented at the section Opening of Arco Madrid in July 2021 and which started by an invitation made by Celina Brás, the director of the Contemporânea magazine. The proposal was to develop a visual essay that would reflect some of the concerns of Harun Farocki's work. Starting with the artist's critical awareness of control systems and his phrase “it's impossible to either look or film directly into the sun” (affirmation which the artist used to establish a parallel with the idealized products of mass culture and the different modes of manipulation of information), Blast Effects then seeks to follow its own direction. The images presented are stills from a 35mm film (already digitized) that records nuclear bombing trials. These tests were conducted by the U.S. Army in Nevada desert, with military on site and with numerous field simulations. In encoder, decoder (2021) I made a montage with two types of stills existing in the film, all corresponding to an involuntary whitening of visual information, which in turn is directly related to the various messages that are observed during the film, among them: “Talk means trouble don't talk”, “If you wouldn't tell don't tell” or “If you get your information here leave it here”. During this recording, there are stills in which the image completely disappears, leaving only grainy patches of color. The color of the respective frames corresponds to the tones that the film achieves when exposed to radiation. I wanted to relate these stills with views of the desert that record the explosions of the bombs, more specifically the flashes that make the screen image disappear turning it almost all white (“it's impossible to film directly into the sun”), or with the moments when the smoke from the bombs resembles clouds. The three images that originate the series If you get your information here leave it here (2021) represent the limit of this censorship, of this project that takes place in the desert in secret, and also allude to the very end that the entire ongoing nuclear process implies. On the other hand, there was another aspect that I wanted to reflect on. When reading testimonies of citizens who watched the explosions from a distance without knowing what it was, I noticed that there was always a common denominator: everyone described the event as something of an immense and unparalleled beauty. I wanted somehow to ironize with beauty’s limits and its perversity. (AnaMary Bilbao)


Arco Madrid Opening section 2021 was curated by  Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga and Ovul O. Durmusoglu

All photos: Roberto Ruiz

© 2021 AnaMary Bilbao – All Rights Reserved