Site-specific installation for the parking level of an abandoned half built business complex in the outskirts of Madrid, consisting of a sound installation in an abandoned car and a set of large-scale graphic works on paper. Presented in the context of the self-organized exhibition Aragon Park, that brought together more than 20 artists.
Excerpt of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1818 Ozymandias sonnet, hand-printed with a cement and plaster-based paint over two 5-meter sheets of Geami WrapPak paper.
«“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”»
Music piece for burned car, based on soundscapes of fire and car engines. 10’ Loop.
Uroboros shed skin paper-sculpture intertwined in a loop, produced with a simplified snakeskin pattern hand-printed with a cement and plaster-based paint over a 10-meter sheet of Geami WrapPak paper.
Ozymandias is a site-specific installation in the parking level of Aragón Park – a huge contemporary ruin in the outskirts of Madrid. The site is a massive unfinished business complex, planned in 2005 with a scandalous budget by an investment group that went bankrupt with the burst of the real estate bubble that followed the 2008 financial crisis, leaving behind a huge debt. This half-built and now half-forgotten construction site thus becomes a perfect model of a particular type of contemporary ruin – the one that becomes a ruin before becoming a building.
The two diptychs presented in this site-specific installation explore the significance of this particular type of ruin, now common in our urban environment. The composed pieces follow themes such as the cycles of construction and destruction, the representation of power through the erection of constructed legacy and the conflict between the romantic idea of ruins with the not-so-romantic reality of contemporary real estate speculation.
The first diptych makes use of the famous “Ozymandias” sonnet written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1818. The sonnet, though critical of the authority structures of its own time, carries a very epic and nostalgic image of past empires and their cycles of power. The quoted excerpt «”My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”», refers to the lost empire of Ramses II to signal the ephemeral character of all power. But it does so while also exalting the supremacy of this once mighty pharaoh, by having him arrogantly declaring his dominance through the many magnificent “works” he has erected. “Works” of such scale and magnificence that all future kings would despair in their sight. The quote, which is already unsettling on its own, becomes then even more estranged when taken out of context and applied to this massive abandoned structure, where the despair is driven not form the architectural achievement, but rather from the unfinished state of the “work”, which now becomes a symbol of the self-destructive character of our economic system.
The quote is printed with a cement-based paint over two long banners that hang from two gaps in the ceiling of the would-be underground parking level of the Aragón Park. The zenith light coming through the roof hits them dramatically, creating a pair of naturally illuminated niches that hint to the cinematographic aura of a forgotten tomb, while the passing breeze flows through them, giving them an airy movement. The paper itself is a product of our globalized economy — a new type of manufactured die-cut wrapping paper, developed for packaging and shipping, that stretches into a fragmented honeycomb form. As the paper stretches and breaks up, the cement-based paint starts to create tensions and cracks. And as the wind, rain and other natural occurrences run through the gaps in the roof, the banners and the cement-based prints get gradually more and more disjointed and fragmented, ultimately disintegrating altogether the powerful “voice” of Ozymandias.
The second diptych is composed of an Uroboros shed skin paper-sculpture intertwined in a loop, and a sound piece that echoes from the open hood of an abandoned burned car.
This diptych follows the cycles of construction and destruction in their accelerated form, where each process gets increasingly inflated, to the point where they start to overlap each other. An accelerated cycle that brings destruction before construction, just like what happened in Aragón Park. This acceleration is portrayed with a made-up shed snakeskin produced with the same wrapping paper and imprinted with a simplified scales pattern using the same cement-based paint. The huge paper shed skin hangs from another illuminated ceiling niche situated in front of the abandoned car carcass. The ouroboros, the symbolized serpent that continuously eats his own tail representing the cycle of life, is here portrayed as a long-gone being that ate himself so swiftly and voraciously that all that is left of him is his empty skin. A void shell of a beastly presence that once inhabited this failed project.
Opposed to this empty snakeskin, lies an abandoned car (itself a symbol of speed, progress and manpower) destroyed by fire – the very same element that once ignited its engine. The sound piece that animates this enigmatic object explores this cycle of opposing ignitions by overlapping soundscapes of fire and working engines, producing a gradual entanglement of both sounds, that grows in complexity and intensity. All the while, a dronie pitch resonates through the empty underground levels, signalling the passage of time. The music piece develops a sound narrative that slowly follows the visitor and leads him to the hollow hood of the car, where the speaker occupies the place where once the engine was embedded, temporarily reanimating this most iconic artefact of the Aragón Park.
July 2020, Aragon Park, a self-organized exhibition by 24 artists in an abandoned building in the outskirts of Madrid.