Error with pages query


Texts that Happen

Manuel Segade

Text in the exhibition catalog Generación 2013 Proyectos de arte Caja Madrid


The works of Martin Vitaliti (Buenos Aires, 1978) operate as an apparently literal form of representation: using a combination of simple, repeated practices, he appropriates a narrative anecdote exactly as it is told through comic-book graphics and turns it into something real. For example, in one of his pieces Superman pulls on the page that depicts his cartoon body, taking his actions outside the frame of the panel and transferring them on to the paper itself.

The traditional method of rendering representation more realistic is the trompe-l ’oeil, which makes the object painted or sculpted as a representation indistinguishable from reality to the eye, so that it seems like an extension of that which already exists. This Baroque fictional device can be interpreted as something that the human imagination adds to reality, but also as the disconcerting indication of a dilemma: What if the thing that isn’t a trompe-l ’oeil is a deception? What if it is another perverse form of representation? Vitaliti stops just one step short of embracing this conservative, ocularcentric option that regards the imaginary as a devious trap, choosing instead to maintain a strategic autonomy that keeps his radius of action firmly within the textual sphere of comic-book language.

He achieves this by employing a dual strategy: on the one h and, a series of precise analyses provides him with a range of equally specific formal conceptions; and on the other, he applies these to various original materials that conform to a given linguistic code. Analytical processes with
formal repercussions correspond to an artistic technique that involves subtraction— reduction, erasure, disappearance—and addition—juxtaposition, superimposition, concealment. In other words, registers that can be ascribed to what we call collage. When the collage’s repertoire of stylistic possibilities is applied to an original material like the comic strip, with its own welldefined
stylistic code, a dual nexus emerges, a paradoxical bond forged by two opposing forces. The meaning emerges in the tension of that supposed void between two coded frameworks that identify each other, reveal themselves and overlap in a tautological loop, like a mirror hung in the middle of the representation.

# 17 is a surface covered with photocopied comic-book pages from which most of the illustrated panels have been removed, leaving such a meagre scattering of drawings that the eye is immediately drawn to the cells, the rhythmic remnants of the narrative structure. Ever since his series of artist ’s books in which he isolated elements of the comic-book language, Martin Vitaliti’s methodologies
have evidenced the fact that if comics are legible it is precisely thanks to their paratextual elements. Text is the necessary rhetorical frame —what Derrida called the “parergon”— the boundary that gives cause to the elements it encircles.

In addition to the permanence of those frames, a few of the comic panels have been decontextualised, and the ch aracters lost in the midst of narrative voids speak of their own disappearance. These appropriations, these fragments secured inside their frames, give voice to a void th at rebounds like an echo over the missing panels, structures which themselves hang from other frames, confined by their visible page numbers.

The literary theorist Gérard Gennete defined this leap from one narrative to another, from one form of representation to another, as metalepsis. The metaleptic method employed by Vitaliti means that the effects of signification in language become real at the very core. The void in which the characters find themselves simultaneously occurs as a gap in their pages. #17 demonstrates how the fabric of representation, cloaked in a discreet language, includes its own intrinsic reference, with no need to venture out into reality other than for the purpose of conveying it as a message. Vitaliti’s trick reveals a hope that is simultaneously a rebellion at the very heart of language: the realisation that the medium, as a form of communication, is the message, not as a technological reason but as a demonstration of the fundamental and intrinsic power of representation.