Un cierto dominio
2 November, 2018 - 8 December, 2018
Ubay talks to me about the Avant-Garde, about the search of constructivist, cubist, even futurist artists, who define their personal revolutions through art: the autonomy of the work of art, the dissolution of art in life, the proclamation of the artist as a producer or the crisis of representation. He talks to me about the dehumanised and technified body, about the return to the natural man, about dismantling the image and decomposing the truth, about the laws of the abstract, which does not respond to words. He talks to me about the propaganda that art brought along at the time, whether encapsulated or in evident display. Then he talks to me about fashion.
Fashion does something similar, but better. Fashion takes control of everything, cyclically, no matter what the original intentions of its inspirations might have been. It also flattens everything and packages it as a product of our dreams, universally shared yet customised to the infinity. Consumers, as producers of themselves who want to want, only exist within the logic of fashion. As was said at the inception of the analysis of mass culture and advertising, it means coercion of sign innovation, an apparently arbitrary impulse of the senses, with a mysterious cyclical logic. Having been extended to the functioning of consumption, it conceals an inertia of the impossibility of social mobility under the democratic delusion of access. Fashion is built around the cult of the ephemeral: it appropriates changing signs in order to propose identity disguises to then oust them. Only from privilege can the temporary be embraced—the new and the old are permanently replaced in a fluctuation of ascribed values, from the authentic to the artificial, proposing impossible tandems such as chic poverty, post-apocalyptic boho, urban-natural life or technological sumptuousness.
Ubay recreates these sign-of-status objects: precious materials, appropriate forms or unique experiences that project luxury on us—not only on the one who acquires them as products, but on anyone who lives under the same system where its reign is supreme. The capacity of emptying and filling all the things within our reach as receptacles makes each one of our decisions shroud us in the brand of ourselves. Individuals stand as psychological subjects while their material reality disappears. Broken and decomposed, their only objective is to recompose themselves, identify their traumas and their vocations and eventually find themselves in their self-realisation. The greatest form of reconstruction that the logic of fashion permits them is that of productive consumption. As in all ideological programmes, its manifestations are self-evident: thus mobility and access as markers of privilege or the economy of attention act as tangible values. On an unstoppable trajectory towards the immaterial, subjects recompose themselves in their acts of consumption while their flesh and bones become ethereal.
In his scenarios, as in window designs or in the layout of a new catalogue of season furniture, the artist borrows the forms and compositions, ruptures and tears of several avant-gardes. The satiny, the bright, the reflective, the dramatic and the voluptuous of some of them coexist with the flat, the cut, the cold and the calculated of the other. The forms, colours and abstract lines, whether minimal or overflowing, detach themselves from their programmatic past to surrender to the evidence that there isn't any con, revolution, alternative or protection, that everything that was, is now 'up for grabs'. Just as in magazines, scenarios become a 'background' where the body gives shape to materials and objects (fabrics, armchairs and tea cups are made to their measure), but where it is already absent. Repetitions, déjà-vus, games of mirages and deformities point to the capacity to mould the image (of that body that is missing in the work of art): the skin, as a surface made up of digits, is now adapted to the bony structure of a system that requires bodies to be as transparent and available as possible.
 Jean Baudrillard describes fashion as a phenomenon inseparable from consumption, and them both as factors of social inertia in the chapter "Sign-Function and Class Logic" of his For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. Telos Press Publishing, U.S., 1st edition (June 1, 1981)