We are experiencing a major movement with street art. It is certainly the reflection of our time: urban, since our lives are more and more centered around city life, and on walls as we spend more and more time in public spaces, meeting out of doors, or using public transport. Fragile and ephemeral too, like so many aspects of our lives, work and objects, sentiments and agreements.
Great artists use walls as a backdrop to express themselves, thus combining into a new art form both wall painting that has always existed since Lascaux and the transience of living art, born with the first dances. And so these walls offer us temporary masterpieces that disappear as day dawns.
The work of Catalan photographer Aleix Plademunt merits a closer look, and he shows here his Nada series that was created in a number of countries including China, Japan, the USA, Turkey, Greece and Mexico. The artist installed huge white canvases with nothing on them but the word Nothing in the local language, in order to denounce the commercialization of public spaces and words.
It is an aesthetical work and also a reflection on one of the major issues to face us in the future: how to preserve and extend a certain freedom, paragon of democracy as opposed to the domination of rarity, or let’s say the market? For, if this market invades everything, including the public spaces, the free spaces, does this mean that they no longer keep any meaning? This brings us to another broader question: is the market devoid of meaning? At the very least it tends to reduce the sense to the value, and the value to a price, as well as, progressively, each object, gesture, feeling or person to a price we consider to be fair. A price expressed in a certain currency, something transferable that has no real meaning.
The significance of this work lies in the fact that we are obliged to reflect on these two fundamental questions: the value of the market and the price of things, meaning and freedom. The meaning of freedom. Including the meaning of art.
Jacques Attali 2010
The Nada (nothing) project is a reflection on the use of words and the invasion of advertising currently taking place around the world.
We live in a world of consumerism generated and fed by ourselves. One of the most recurring invitations to consume is word. We are surrounded by words. Words are always present in our everyday lives. Messages on advertising billboards, on walls and façades, on shopping bags, cars, busses, the underground, lorries, windows, floors, roads, street furniture, plots of land, television, press. This constant invitation and messages’ onslaught brings us to a saturation point where words lose their meaning. The consumption of nothing.
The photography project entailed locating these places invaded by advertising messages. The advertisements were covered in situ with a white canvas and the word nothing written in the local language. Then the installation was photographed.
In order to emphasize the concept of globalization, the project was conducted both in large cities and rural and remote areas in 11 countries on the 5 continents (Spain, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, USA, Japan, China, Russia, Egypt, Turkey and Greece). Studying and comparing the peculiarities of the public space allocated to advertising in each country. Contrasting different cultures, languages and alphabets in one work.
The trivial content of information reaches us through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. We have become immune to receiving empty stimuli, as the praise of consumption has invaded our public spaces. Our space has become a marketplace, causing unprecedented visual contamination where our senses are exposed to endless vehicles carrying empty messages. Words are no longer the vehicles that transport us to the land of reflection, and meanings get lost in the communicative vacuum of advertising.
The project was an immersion in the culture of emptiness as a message. In the context of the nothing. In the globalization of the nothing. With its subtle ways, the nothing creeps into our lives every day disguised in imperative colors. The objective of the project was to clearly and nakedly demonstrate the conceptual emptiness in which we move, and the word nothing was used to create a space that transports emptiness through all channels. The nothing appears repeatedly; a term that expresses emptiness and non-existence, but whose presence nevertheless airs our saturated environment, the horror of the emptiness of our settings, and fills it with existence by placing it in everything. From this emptiness, the nothing opens the door towards reflection; from silence, it becomes a scream towards questioning.