Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.
Robert Frost, “Fireflies in the garden” (1928), The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged
The potential flight
Looking up to the sky, Frost contemplates the firmament, and holds before the graceful dance of endless drops that flutter, and draw with light over the dark background of the night. The poet raises the trembling flame of the minuscule firefly to the ardent light of the monumental stars, delighted with the shimmering splendour.
This is a privileged gaze, one that allies the human, the natural and the celestial. Menacing, the human-being, and his technologies of light, affronts the pulsating glare of the firefly. In Survivance des lucioles, Didi-Huberman notes, with melancholy, the annihilation of the fireflies under the blinding light of the “ferocious projectors” that disseminate tyrannic propaganda. However, as he then realises, these other fireflies, human creatures of the survival of thinking, do not disappear. They merely fly to another place, where seeing is not blinded.
The exhibition «The Spot», by Jon Gorospe, appears as one of these places. The artist’s thoughts are triggered by the post-photographic theories concerning the excess of images created and circulating, which shifts the imperative of the documental activity to election and validation. Particularly, the artist focuses on the oppressive invasion of the public space by screens and advertising propaganda.
Excavating a moat between reality and fiction, engendering dangerous emotions, the effect of the advertising image upon the most trivial spheres of human life arouses thoughts concerning the capture of free-will, the illusion of the unfulfilled fantasy, identity according to consumption, the downfall of the satisfied pleasure, or the strike on self-esteem. It is about the alienation and drainage of the human spirit at the hands of the diabolical machine of Guy Débord’s La societé du spectacle. Such gaze of the human being, enchanted yet numb, succumbing to the technological misadventure, is that of Narcisus, as the artist notices, inasmuch as that which follows the course of Icarus.
Beyond a place for survival, «The Spot» is configured as a gesture of resistance and hope. The exhibition stems from Jon Gorospe’s stealth penetration in the gloomy maze of the “ferocious projectors”, collecting advertising images in LED screens. Appropriating their elemental component, as if their luminescent substance, the artist sabotages the existing images resorting to the same seduction expedients of publicity. In drops and strokes of light, in nuances of rhythms and colours, over a nocturnal sky, Jon Gorospe creates original images in photography and video, inducing a contemplative and meditative mood. It is smuggling – even guerrilla –, following Irit Roggoff’s metaphor, in the form of an embodied artistic practice, inhabiting and operating the very object that it problematises, and experiments in its interior, creating something new, something that emerges outwards from within and that reveals itself in the course of the process.
Under the systematic organisation of the LED, hints of fleeting fireflies still remain, in their potential, in this clandestine underground where Jon Gorospe finds them, yet ready to escape, and to fly.
Ricardo Escarduça, May 2022