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  • Writer's pictureShawn McNulty-Kowal

Paradisal Anonymity in Juan Fabuel's '14/24'

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

Where one comes from might be the most frequented point of inspiration for artwork - in this way the specific is turned ubiquitous. What if an artist chooses not to showcase where they come from, but instead, where we all come from with hopes of turning the ambiguous into something that feels strangely, but intensely familiar? Then you’d find Juan Fabuel standing somewhere in the mountains of Greece taking photographs of the Mediterranean Sea. For his exhibit, 14,24, Spanish photographer Juan Fabuel (b. 1976) reminds us of the ocean’s anchor in genesis and in human migratory capability.

14,24, a collection of photographs of the Mediterranean Sea, subdued mountain bases, and fog-invaded forests, was showcased in Valencia, Spain in April of 2017. The title, 14,24, is symbolic for the distance between Africa and Europe; it is as much political with its roots in passage and immigration as it is romantic in its evocation of memory and introspection. Immediately, the sounds of an indifferent sea filter the air and dip each photograph in moonlight blue. Projected on the wall of a dimly lit alcove, a photograph of the Mediterranean Sea sways and reminds you of the sea’s anonymity.

On the installation, Fabuel says, “Video is essentially dynamic. Photography is born when time and space are sliced up. To combine these two media in the same project allows going through that space-time cut, offering a more holistic interpretation that comes from a look that is sensory amplified.” Juan Fabuel notes that 14,24 is a collection that dismantles the misconception of the Mediterranean Sea being synonymous with paradise. Rather, 14,24 is a collection that disrupts that notion - stripping it down to a nondescript, ominous beach that reminds you that its paradisal disguise is only ever ephemeral.

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