Karlos Gil: Restaging stories

Benjamin Weil


LABoral Activities Director

Karlos Gil is a collage creator. Juxtaposing elements in space, he constructs narratives from fragments of others. His work often takes on a multidimensional character, mixing sculpture with sound, moving images or drawings. Somehow, in his practice, space becomes a kind of sheet of paper to which those fragments can be attached. And yet, that same exhibition space is also a fictional space through which to physically wander.

The artist’s elaborate constructions always seem to have a starting point. In this case, the beginning is a curious historical detail that could have gone completely unnoticed: in 1969, at a time when humanity was immersed in adoration for the conquest of the Moon, a notable group of artists decided to get involved in what which, but for them, would have been a perfectly rational and impeccably precise expedition to the satellite. The initiative consisted of designing a device small enough to be imperceptible and then figuring out how to incorporate it into the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module). The goal was to send art to the Moon. What triggered the operation was that it had not been contemplated to include any artistic element in a container containing traces of human activity directed at extraterrestrial intelligent life forms.

Would the device stay on the Moon? Would it be interpreted as a kind of performance? Did the device manage to reach the Moon? Was it ever discovered? There do not seem to be conclusive answers to those questions or to the many more that this true story or wonderful hoax could raise.

It would seem that Karlos Gil likes that specific way that humanity has of forgetting history or modifying its perspective; a sum of elements that change all the time, with some aspects coming to light while others disappear only to reappear later. That is also the modus operandi of Art History, in which artists are celebrated and then forgotten, hopefully returning to fame at the end of their lives and even posthumously… to precipitate, once again, into oblivion Facts can be reinterpreted to infinity, making it possible to create different meanings from the same elements, simply altering their objectives, readjusting them, recombining them. Today more than ever, we live in a moment in which Truth has become a very flexible concept, a kind of paradigm.

In some ways, The Moon Museum represents an interesting commentary on the state of culture today. Where once there used to be a consensus narrative to adhere to, today we are faced with multiple realities and truths, making it extraordinarily difficult to function in a world in which everything has become relative. Consider, for example, how the value of each currency was set in relation to the value of gold and the reserves of each country constituted its reference point. Well, starting in 1971 this system was abandoned and exchange rates, once fixed by the same reference, began to float. We could say that this change constitutes a perfect metaphor to describe a globalized world in which, in some way, relativity permeates all aspects of our lives.

It is precisely this mechanism of association of elements that could have something in common that governs Karlos Gil’s creative process. Whether it is music scores or neon signs on the streets, it is the dynamic of associating the fragments that generates this new meaning or calls for the active participation of viewers to establish their own. The installation is a stage in which the viewer is the actor; an actor who would be in charge of establishing his own narrative thread by assembling elements from his own perception.

But this work also reminds us of the existence of people for whom the moon landing is nothing more than a fraud, thus echoing the humorous aspect of the “moon museum” project as it was staged by the group that devised it. In fact, the fact that our experience of what is “real” is becoming increasingly mediated causes reality and fiction to become confused. Therefore, perhaps Karlos Gil’s fictional construct is more real, more truthful, than all those hypothetical facts on which it is based.