MALATO, Maria Luísa — Text for the handout of the exhibition Ar(a)C(hné)-EN-CIEL   

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Look at your life as if it were a web.

First, it's a place that you don't choose. The angle between two branches. The distance between a pillar and a doorway that you’re left with. The span of a ruin.

Next, it requires a calculation. The leap assisted by the wind that passes through the branches of the tree. The drop you projected between the gravitational force and the resistance to this force. The void you will fill with the construction.

There is also the thread that issues from you, the material that fills the leap, the fall or, in any case, the void.

Your life will be like the web: a reality without order, a desire without reality, and a life whose only raison d'être is your own existence.

The web harbours an undeniable unity between the spider's body and the bodies born from it, or that die because of the web, whether by chance, intent or need. As in life. But equally the web harbours an undeniable chaotic instability, which leads the spider to remake it in many other forms, avoiding that which, for various reasons, was destroyed in the tree, door or in the ruin of either.

Imagine that you are a spider: you make and unmake, but always in a way that we would say is paradoxical, because the spider is simultaneously automated and inventive. In fact, the spider has "genius", in the meaning given to this term by Diderot. Its mode is not mechanical, but it has a machine-like quality: it does what it has to do, enabling 1001 variants of the same plastic structure. The "genius" of each being is not related to whether it is sensitive or insensitive, rational or emotional: genius is simultaneously this and that which is not quite this. Unlike the machine, which operates "mechanically", without considering the where, when, how and why, genius, like the spider (when we say "spider" we might just as well say "author" or "actor"), operates automatically, observing certain laws that imply an element of ingenuity, disciplined energy. In his definition of the project of the Encyclopaedia, Diderot placed the editor between the stable infinite (“When we treat of beings in nature, what better can we do than to list scrupulously all their known properties at the moment when we write?”) and the unstable finite (“observation and experimental physics, constantly multiplying phenomena and facts, and rational philosophy, comparing and combining them, extend or contract constantly the boundaries of our knowledge, and consequently introduce variations in the meanings of our established words, render the definitions we had of them inaccurate, false, and incomplete, and even require us to establish new ones”). Consequently, the spider is classical (purified) in its expression, but baroque (chaotic) in the corpus / body that it targets (dictated by the prior source, or the subsequent function). Concepts such as 'beauty' or 'utility' are meaningless per se. They exist within us, like the thread of the spider which ponders the leap, fall, or void. That which is inherently useful is beautiful. That which is inherently beautiful is useful. Both are measured by their effectiveness, like the almost invisible web that catches flies.

Now imagine Arachne. She has some of the tenacity of Penelope (when we say "Penelope" we might just as well say "spider", or "author", or "actor"). It is no coincidence that the Latin root for the word 'text' is shared in common by the words 'textile', 'texture', or the musical term 'tessitura'. Or that “tela” (port.), “toile” (fr.) or “web” (eng.) all refer to a net, or internet/structure. Ordered, calculated and logarithmic, and yet chaotic, beautiful and uncontrollable. The myth of Arachne (like the story of Penelope) refers, to an inevitable tension, in the text and in the canvas, between creation, which is life, and destruction, which is death. Creation is as natural or necessary as the punishment of the gods is inevitable, inflicted upon every mortal who dares to defy the gods.

You are Arachne. Therefore, dare to know.