We fly over the coast of Alicante accompanied by sacred music suitable for the exultant light of midday. The bird’s-eye view provides us with a large field of vision of orthogonal forms and perfect symmetries when leaving the sea and the wild landscape behind. From this aerial perspective, the rotundity of the lonely architecture refers us to an archaeological site of uncertain dating, with its bleachers, pillars, amphitheaters and pits.
But it’s just a false impression. When we landed, the “City of Light”, a film studio now abandoned, welcomes us in the floor tiles. Already in the choice of the title of this video creation, The magic screen, Ana Esteve Reig seems to allude to the beginnings of cinema (magic lantern) and the process of perception, memory and collective unconscious (Freudian magic board).
A woman in red will guide us through the ins and outs of the cinema that she says was filmed there. It will mix reality and fiction in a plot in which she herself will be trapped.
With a similar aesthetic to that of a promotional video, but with nods towards other genres, mixing advertising, confessional, didactic, and even philosophical language, it ends up being a sui generis parody that raises questions at various levels: about contemporary ruins (projects developed by megalomaniac minds), about life as a dream (for an actress or as a spectator), the need to scape the reality, and the indivisibility between decadence and glamour.
The script is often interrupted by eccentric observations: the hostess alternates her praises to the installations with personal reflections, for example in relation to the shooting tanks, when she compares the medieval pits with contemporary home insurance. On another occasion, she starts talking about the salmon walls of the dressing rooms to end by advertising the salmon’s nutritional properties.
In previous works, Ana Esteve already showed her ability to introduce elements of humor in appropriate languages of the genre of the documentary, of science fiction … (eg the Oracle). But as regards the scenographic display of disproportionate architectures, The magic screen reminds us of the video that she made with Alejandro Ramírez at the Cidade da Cultura de Santiago. Slide (2013) showed skateboarders gliding in the basements of these mammoth structures, ghostly vestiges of what had never been, ruins with no history like The City of Light.
The teenagers have in Esteve’s works a special ability to escape from reality. Knowing that there is no tomorrow they choose an eternal return of the present: music (Bad Romance), dance (After Never Never Land), digital avatars (Dalila’s documentary) or simply the feeling of belonging to a tribe, provide them that power.
In The magic screen, the hostess also evades herself and evades us with her cute carmine mouth. Throughout the tour of the huge halls, dressing rooms and outdoor locations, she comments on the “magic” of cinema to provide us with parallel lives, to empathize with us, because when “I smile, you do too”.
We can not live without Plato’s caves, she appears to suggest: help us to keep rolling the great machinery of producing dreams, buy it now, it is a good investment.
In one of those situations that should be left off-camera we find out that the presenter is also an actress. This fact pervades her with the same sense of unreality that emanates from the place. Her presence becomes fragile, like the last flash of a sunset that at the end of the video invades the city that wanted to be light.
Ana Esteve Reig, The magic screen
Sala Multiverso, Fundación BBVA, Madrid
Curator: Laura Baigorri
MULTIVERSO Grants to video art
until 10th March 2019