ROBERTO CHABET: Towards One Thousand and One Isthmuses

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The view of heaven from both above and below is cast through the stillness of a lake or the open sea. At the end of the horizon where everything dissolves we get a glimpse of the infinite's meeting point. Two bodies converge at a specific point in time, when the light sets evenly across the scene. The line of the horizon becomes the thin connecting thread, the isthmus that bridges the gap between two surfaces, two regions, head and feet, mind and body, inseparable and one.

The storm, the hundred-year flood, much of it has been happening. News came out about a man who, during the hurricane that hit New York, was able to save six lives trapped in the flood by splicing together twines, plastic ropes, extension cords and cables found in his household. In the succeeding news, he was ready to teach America how to make 'well-tied' knots and share his story on how he was able to fashion a lifeline out of found strings.

In our ordinary waking life the stage is more mundane, preoccupation is more banal, and it demands us to abide quickly and to cut loose from our dreaming state in the instant we open our eyes. We grapple to our surroundings like lost rogues to regain ourselves: the burst of light from the window, the familiar patterns on our bed sheets, the recognizable grip on the pillow's soft fabric—we are introduced again to reality. Further ahead in our routine, there is the mirror, which fastens our place into this world, and reconnects us: I came back.

In the Overture of Marcel Proust's ‘Remembrance of Thing's Past’, the narrator ascribed memory as a “Rope let down from heaven to draw him out of the abyss of non-being,” during the moment of his waking from deep sleep. Each part of his consciousness and identity is slowly regained, by hanging on to this rope, by recalling each object in the room—oil lamps, shirts with turned down collars—as component parts of his ego. And later on in the novel we can discover, that it is through these mundane, everyday objects, that he was able to gather lost memories.

Inside the gallery is a work of a present-day master that deals with the commonplace: There are two sets of objects—nylon ropes and mirrors. The nylon ropes are hung from the ceiling, where each falls freely to a corresponding tile of mirror below, occupying the whole space with more than a hundred pairs of this combination, and are aligned into a grid. Common as they are in our own encounters, their configurations across the space elicit the presence of a new reading. If the objects are themselves read as texts then these constitute a passage, which is written vertically, and the sentence could show a part of Proust's, that these ropes fetch us from the abyss to reconnect.

Although their repetition flows like a mantra that constitutes the whole view as a body of prayer, each pairing holds like a tessera, unique in the way how each thread forms its dive to the bottom, and each mirror becomes a tablet that reflects the different, accidental formations, its own signature.

The grid, the fragments, the interconnection, the way they are woven and the way we weave ourselves through them inside the gallery echoes the way we revere the frail and thin luminosities of life, our own banal narrative thread that starts out from the umbilicus. And across the network of these quotidian, minimal structures we may find our way back to the thought of having once stretched out a red plastic cord for a clothesline or made secure a tattered box loaded with goods and assume: that I too had once held out that lifeline's enigma and wished that it can extend itself up to where I needed to.

In 2011 at Mo Space, Roberto Chabet reconstructed one of his early exhibitions in CCP entitled Bread, where each piece of the said title rests on a mirror on the floor, arranged in a grid-like formation. This year in Towards one thousand and one Isthmuses, he re-applies the same grid. Perhaps as a continued narration? Or the insistence of a cold remove? In Bread the mirror suggests the unveiling of a multiplicand, as in a famous biblical parable. In the present exhibition, the mirror allows us to have a glimpse of the infinite, as the rope is stretched out to connect with itself, looped back to its origin. As we look down, we may find art's hidden order: that everything is connected—and simply in their being, is the connection itself.

Essay by Cocoy Lumbao

Towards one thousand and one Isthmuses opens at Mospace on November 24, Saturday and the exhibition will run until December 30, 2012. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 8pm. For any inquiries please contact us at tel nos 8567915, or mobile no 0917 6683951.

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