Tale enclosed in one hand
Notes on Albarrán Cabrera

by Angelica Moschin

Being immersed more in a mood than formal clarity, Albarrán Cabrera’s images speak to us in an amalgam of alluring analogies drawn from in-depth investigations of their medium. Their gesture is subtle, revealing worlds that look like timid encounters of forms and affects or, in other words, like long-kept childhood secrets suddenly unearthed by a greedy hand.

“Kairos”. Albarrán Cabrera

Albarran Cabrera is a Barcelona-based duo who dismiss coordination conjunctions, hyphenation and authorship. Within a logic of possibilism, they tell us that if a great event will ever happen in our lives, no matter what form this may take, we’ll recognize it, first and foremost, by the ever-oozing light we used to be dazed by as children when leafing through the pages of our favorite fairy-tales. Under the guise of alchemists engaged in experiments on salt behaviors, their heightened attention allows for a multitude of overlapping planar facets to suddenly become readable. Where separation and conjunction are conflated in the same ecstatic gesture and deployed as one, a certain acknowledgment must emerge in the process and push us to the conclusion that what separates us from life, it eventually binds us to it. To bring it closer to the point, I asked them to elaborate on what triggers this motion. It is, in their words, a layering experience, as though the separation between gold leaf and platinum, reminiscent of the gaps between our past experiences, could be clearly pronounced, formalized and internalized altogether. The magic of juxtapositions. As for the gold leaf, what is at stake in sliding one at the heart of a photo, where we would least suspect its presence? Such a modus operandi not only provides an immediate echo with medieval extensive use of gilding techniques but moreover crystallizes a mode of expression rooted in the senses, in proximity to the viewer and in association with a dimly-lit space. The idea stems from their long-standing fascination for “In Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki who says that gilded lacquerware is not something that one can see in brilliant light and take in at a single glance but rather something that should be left in the dark, doused in depth and mystery.

“The Mouth of Krishna”. Albarrán Cabrera

From Ancient Egyptian generous use of a gold-silver mixture called Electrum to both Islamic and European intricately refined illuminated manuscripts, from the medieval Christian gilded backgrounds to the long-standing Japanese artistic practice called kintsugi, gold has been invariably invested with a myriad of associations primarily conveying images of piety, holiness and purity. This is not to overindulge on technical details, nor to compress the actual scope of their symbols by uncovering the underlying shamanic processes involved in their weaving. It is rather to hint at the potential inherent when form and content, signifier and signified all collide and coincide in terrific synthesis: as Hoffmansthal would put it, no better hideout for the deepest depth than the surface as-is. And Albarran Cabrera adhered to this, wholly and unconditionally, emphasizing the emotional spectrum that manifest itself when the surface is involved and infused with a profusion of painstaking adjustments. At that, what is so poignantly readmitted there, in their delectable little treasure chests, is a tactile experience where the utterances of cotton paper, Gampi paper and gold leaf are mixed and left free to express a discourse less cutting edge than elegiac. Living in a society where HD imagery has become our haunting and unquestionably vexing neighbor over the past ten years, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves more and more frequently engaged in reflections on the side effects of such a side-to-side proximity.

“This is you here”,  Albarrán Cabrera

To cling to this, how could something so carefully represented, so embedded with extra-refined and high-resolution representation of corporeality dismiss the body and its most basic functions? At its limits, HD seems not only failing in giving a trustworthy account of ourselves but moreover allows for a blissful and not-so temporary oblivion of our senses to take over. Within this context, Albarran Cabrera put forward their plea for a reassuringly familiar gesture, one that would eventually restore our senses and miraculously open up a breach in the center of ourselves. By willingly thrusting aside any high-brow metaphysical ruminations involving hidden meanings and interpretations, their work genuinely elicits Proustian reflections on the expanse of thought and memory. At that, memory can be definitively regarded as the fils rouge that runs through all their works and allows for unique, unprecedented connections to take place. “This is you here”, for example, explores how the reconstitution of a memory as pure fiction might stand for a way to build identities. And the series “Kairos”, self-explanatory from the title, together with “Nyx” aim to dispel any sense of temporal progression while eliciting reflections on humanity’s near-universal quest for meaning and significance in what is, still, a largely incomprehensible Universe.

“Nyx”. Albarrán Cabrera