59th Venice Biennale. Ignasi Aballí “Correction” at the Spanish Pavilion

Error theory tells us that imperfection is at the source of everything. Physics confirms this: the universe is based on an error. The quantities of matter and antimatter should have been equal, yet an imbalance between the two was what caused the Big Bang. Nothing would exist had it not been for that infinitesimal malfunction. A small, almost invisible disparity around which almost everything oscillates. Unbalance so as to rebalance, Robert Bresson used to say, proposing another viewpoint. It is this idea on which Ignasi Aballí’s bases his art; his works challenge the spectator’s perception. This is especially true in Correction, the proposal for the Spanish Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia 2022.
The concept in itself is simple: rotate the Spanish Pavilion. Located at one corner of the Giardini, near the entrance to the fair’s venue, the building appears slightly misaligned with the neighboring pavilions of Belgium and the Netherlands. From that corner, the pavilion looks like a blind façade. Ignasi Aballí became absorbed in this apparent error when he looked at the blueprints. First, there was the disturbing proximity to Belgium, where the walls of both pavilions seem to touch. Then, the wasted space at the back of the Spanish pavilion, on Calle Paludo. Under the assumption that the current location was a mistake, what would happen if the Spanish Pavilion were moved, to line up with the rest of the adjacent buildings? And what changes would this correction entail?
Basing your project on an alleged error in the location of the building of the Spanish Pavilion, the space of the country you represent, is a bold move. It is no less daring to act as a corrector in a context such as La Biennale di Venezia. Attempting to rotate it to put it on the same spatial level as the others creates an even larger deviation than the one that already exists, not just physically, but also symbolically. The original exhibition space is blurred, becoming much more confusing and maze-like, full of twists and turns. Doesn’t this happen often when we visit biennales? The rotation proposed by Ignasi Aballí is a minimal yet titanic movement that presents one of the intrinsic contradictions of his work: that everything has been done already, and it is only possible to redo. A sense of wanting to do as little as possible and ending up doing more than you wanted. The correlation of the idea of correction with other related ideas is not trivial. To rectify, straighten, line up . . . These concepts all hover around the meaning of what is proposed here. Why correct a pavilion that has been deemed valid? Why compare yourself with your neighbor? Why make the effort, just to lose space? Why waste the space of the pavilion? In Ignasi Aballí’s eyes, it’s like someone who raises an eyebrow at a can of paint without knowing exactly what to do with it. In his hands, error and correction are working materials, like dust, routine, Tippex or newspaper clippings. In his interest in expanding the traditional limits of the pictorial, he looks closely at how certain materials can become something else, always giving minimal clues, barely making any concessions. Such is the map that locates Aballí’s six books on Venice, the second proposal for the biennale. Little guides that also correct the more touristic image of a city that is, at times, as skewed as the Spanish Pavilion with respect to its neighboring buildings. Ignasi Aballí’s entire project for the Spanish Pavilion poses more questions than it answers. It works both as a meta-exhibition and as a disappearance. Starting with a potential error, it provokes a larger one, a double error. The impossibility for the two spaces to coexist without both making concessions. The attempt to compare oneself to others, knowing that this road leads nowhere. The invitation to leave the Giardini to search for some books, surely stealing time away from seeing the biennale. The curricular expectations of arriving at an event like La Biennale di Venezia and wasting the exhibition space. The visual game of leaving the pavilion apparently empty and, at the same time, extremely full. A pavilion that reveals a disjointed image of Spain which, in turn, is the everyday landscape of Venice.

Bea Espejo

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