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Empty picture frames on a wall

Almudena Lobera and the Interlining of Perception


The world’s legibility looks different in the work of Lobera, who invites us to a place where we have never been as observers.

There, where looks are exchanged, are all the works of Almudena Lobera (Madrid, 1984), in the form of scenes that change the role of image in the spaces of art. The works are an exhaustive study into the relevance of geometric thought to question the multiple perceptions that can be generated by simply intervening in our visual customs, by just, for example, adding a frame to an empty space. The here and there and the space in between (which is in fact the title of one of her exhibitions) are the protagonists of a theater of reality that end up modifying the audience. As a young artist, Lobera brings us a fresh way of continuing to question the roles not only of art but also of the world as perceiver and perceived. But in her work there is a singular intimacy that makes it extraordinary, an intimacy that is manifested in small silences or in empty spaces, and that the spectator must fill in, like their very own secret.

two images, one empty picture frame, one woman using a device to view a picture

The observer is so important in her work that there are pieces in which the image is not complete until somebody is reflected in it, or in which a person is also the carrier of a work in their own flesh. Thus her work comes to life when it is observed, but it always also returns the gaze. Perhaps the best way to exemplify this is in her use of the frame. The artist uses this form as a liminal space between what is in front and what is behind, but always by subverting the spatial roles, demonstrating how what we see is conditioned by the delimitation of space and our learned way of seeing.

picture frames on a shelf

Among her most extraordinary projects is Superficial Reading (2013) in which she converts books, containers of words or ideas, into tautological objects. By framing them and placing them in bookcases, instead of hanging them on the wall, Lobera reduces books to the status of image (an object that cannot be consulted) and elevates the status of images to that of books, to legibility. And she does all of that by simply using a frame. As part of that same exploration, but on a much larger scale, she conceived her A Sight to Behold, and which she presented in Spain in 2011.

In that exhibition she installed a large red curtain parallel to the edge of the sea that separated and framed two opposing landscapes and two distinct groups of viewers. On one side and the other, the usual visitors to the beach become, with their mere presence, occasional “actors” and “spectators” depending on where they are situated. Their roles are confused and they are simultaneously exchanged: those that appear to be “observers” facing the sea become “observed” by those who pass by and vice versa, as the curtain is double-sided and identical on both sides.

With this work, Lobera firstly lets us see how when one goes to the beach one tends to accommodate oneself facing the sea, in a ritual very similar to when we go to the theatre… As if this were a great set and one were the audience of a play that never begins. A Sight to Behold shows this role of observer, the scene and the work, but in a game that is interchangeable and accidental, which was made possible thanks to the simplicity of the enormous frame. The medieval idea that the whole world is a stage, either as a philosophical idea as expressed by Shakespeare, or a theological one, as Calderón de la Barca viewed it, is magnificently resuscitated in this site-specific installation that will once again be deployed for Faena Art, Miami Beach in December 2015.

Each one of the works of Almudena Lobera is the reinforcement of a fascinating argument regarding human perception at a sensitive and philosophical level. It is art that questions and invites the public to a place where they have never been, to the place in between.

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