If #gift n.1 came from Italy, #gift n. 2 is straight out of Spain thanks to our friend Alvaro Velasco-Perez. It is a lovely, lovely book, the catalogue of an exhibition at the University of Navarra in Pamplona (unfortunately this one just closed at the end of July). Madrid-born Manglano-Ovalle is an artist based in Chicago; for The Black Forest he created a suite of works linked by the use of charcoal as key material.
The exhibition was dominated by two 5x5x5m cubes lined with charred beech wood which looks, in turn black, grey, or silvery depending on the light. Manglano-Ovalle says that the cubes are meant to be at the same time sculptures and pieces of architecture. He paired these sculptures (or, as Donald Judd would say, 'specific objects') with a series of photographs that look just like, well, black squares.
The images are in fact carbon impressions taken in different places and at different times - 'indexical impressions of the sky' as Manglano explains. They are all black and yet they are not exactly the same. It is impossible to convey these differences by posting scanned pages f the catalogue, and probably nothing can compare the real experience of seeing these images in person. Carbon becomes not only the theme of this imaginary forest - burned, the artist seems to suggest, by the arrogance of mankind - but its very body, its texture. The idea of a black photo is haunting, like an ultimate, super-dense black square that is supposed to contain a secret image, or perhaps all the possible images one can imagine, collapsed in one frame.
We cannot thank Alvaro enough for this fantastic surprise. It really is a unique addition to our personal collection of black squares.