Glorifying banality and other silences

Text by Amber Kay
First published in Panorama, CENDEAC, Murcia, Spain, June, 2018

It was in 1952 when John Cage introduced the world to the silence of his 4 '33' '. During those four and a half minutes, the composer invites us to discover and give value to those sounds that accompany and surround us on a daily basis and that we yet overlook, trapped in the vortex of our complex lives. Surpassing a musical composition, this work is a declaration of intentions and part of a social critique of the entertainment industry that led artistic creation and appreciation down a path of irreversible commodification. More than half a century later, the excessive saturation of visual and sound elements in our environment, alongside the exceeding bombardment of information to which we are subjected on a daily basis, leads us to be, contradictorily, more disconnected than ever.

It is from our most immediate reality, greatly conditioned by an immoderate digital presence that sometimes exceeds our presence in physical reality, that Gómez Selva studies the concept of "absence" and breaks down the existential concerns of an entire generation. I will allow myself, however, to highlight the discovery in his work of the contrary. As in Cage’s 4 '33 ", absence here serves as a revealing agent of what has always been present but apparently hidden or veiled. Through codes of contemporary documentary and direct humanism, Gomez Selva redirects our attention and confronts us with values and realities no more captivating than unpleasant.

The role of the photographic image in the work of this author may well have failed to please the sensitive viewer’s gaze, while also refusing to capture any kind of beauty in the most sempiternal sense of the word. This is where art goes beyond a mere representation of it’s surrounding society, and becomes a commitment to return the values it lacks. Where in the times of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites, the compulsive beauty of their paintings faced up to the overcrowding excess of metallic structures and cement that plagued the British landscape, Gómez Selva’s work, nothing is further from a glorification of banality, it is an invitation to return the reflective gaze to our most direct contexts through a journey between what is considered alien and universal.