MAGAZINE // ARTISTS
FILLING EMPTY SPACES...
Alfonso Batalla’s work strikes a chord with the viewer, vibrating quite deep within. Gracefully simple in both motif and execution, its equipoise in composition and collected calmness soon give way to an underlying provocation and confusion addressing each of us where it might hurt emotionally.
Faced with void space, emptiness, decay, a sense of waiting and a lingering presence of something missing, the viewer is forced to explore within themselves and confront the intimate feeling of loneliness which we all carry with us.
We feel Pink Floyd said it best:
"What shall we use To fill the empty spaces Where we used to talk? How shall I fill The final places? How should I complete the wall...
What shall we use to fill the empty spaces where waves of hunger roam. Shall we set out across this sea of faces in search of more and more applause?"
We applaud Alfonso Batalla for both his creative talent and photographic skill, for making art reminiscent of music and for striking this very chord!
The name of this work borrows the French term "Solitude" from Georges Moustaky song "Ma solitude" where loneliness is said to become our best friend.
Even not being a particularly cheerful song, "Ma solitude" reminds me of my youth, days of vine and roses, night, joy and disco, surrounded always with people. Nowadays I assume that a certain degree of loneliness (being physical solitude or a form of mental isolation) is a need to think, conceive new projects, face our pains and fears, know ourselves and create.
This is the kind of constructive loneliness that fills the pages of this book. Empty spaces, mostly cold and inhuman, invite us to come in and fill them with our feelings while we discover our true nature.
"Rooms of Solitude" consist on two chapters.
In the first of them, this one, "No People Places", that universal law that states that every empty space tends to be filled is met. There is "something" in those empty rooms, there is anon-presence, an absence there, a short of "no-people". It seems that everithing is ready for an human being to inhabite within those walls. And that presence could only be the obvserver himself.
Thus, the spectator becomes a true being-in-the-world taking his true nature as soon as he cares by accepting the invitation/need of the empty room to be filled. At the same time, that heartless and inexpressive space becomes distressing and creates anxiety and shows that being is always falling, being towards death, following Heidegger and existentialism theories.
In the second chapter "Shout out to loneliness" the behaviour of these rooms and spaces becomes more proactive. The formulation of light, perspective, scene, foreground, background, abstract textures or lack of detail, speaks to the viewer. They no longer invite him but want to chat with him, shouting their own messages and forwarding an answer. They prevent us from looking at the space itself as we centre our attention to details.
The bodies, the concrete matter, rise above hide the being in itself to wallow in an insane existence. Existentialist interpretation perfectly portraits what our day to day life is when rhythm of existence precludes our being. Distress is the only force capable of turning us over and into ourselves to have a glance of our true nature.
These lone voids are intriguing but they prove that beauty resides in the true being, and it has more to do with decay that with order, maybe precisely because the "falling" nature of being.
Finally, the images in this book, just a part of an endless and open work as usual, share some features. First of all: in all of them the time factor doesnt exist. These places seem to be frozen in time. Secondly: there is a kind of connection as if any kind of quantic dimension or superstring links them. The rooms in this book are of the most various nature: homes, offices, clinics, hotels, classrooms... they have been shot in different coutries around the world and with architectural syles that are diverse. However, one thing unites them, something that can only be their own true being. When some of them are shown as a diptych though the pages of the book, the relation betwen them is so intense that suprises the author who knows how far and how different to each other are.
Maybe that is a statement implying the timeless and the universality of being in constant decline and mutation.