Magic Things Could Happen 

— Text by Mónica Álvarez Careaga, 2013

A disrupted chronology, broken identities and numerous aesthetic and poetic allusions are some of the factors arising in the work of the multidisciplinary artist Bubi Canal (b. Santander, 1980). The photographs, videos, objects and installations created by this artist have in common a strong visual impact, but what interests me most about this work is the expressive potential of its encrypted images. What are their codes, their sources, their systems of cultural representation? 

New cosmogony 

The protagonist of the video Crystelle, 2012, contemplates the surrounding world –a valley opening onto a mountainous landscape– through a toy periscope. The attractive character is a generic, primal, woman who seems to begin a founding story, a new cosmogony, immersed in a moment of preexistences. 
The clothing and jewellery that she wears, full of decorate details that pay tribute to the traditional attire of Masai or Padaung women, appear before my eyes not as derivatives but as aesthetic precedents. 

These and other elements, like the woman’s ritualised movements and actions, have to be gathered together and organised so they begin to make sense, to form a meaning associated with the ideas of generation, of beginning, of genesis, that underlie the film. 

Optimistic Retro-futurism 

Even so, the origins are not always univocal in Bubi Canal’s films, in which many things are not understood and lead to situations of ambiguity, contradiction or simply suggestion. 

I want to know whether these pieces are positioned in the past or the future, if they should be interpreted in a current, albeit eccentric context. Take, for example, the photograph Rainbow Children, 2013, featuring a group of people wearing a sort of retro-futuristic uniform: some kind of team of “good kids” or disciplined superheroes about to go out to take on the most dangerous of enterprises equipped with a large dose of confidence and optimism. 

Bubi Canal builds simplified stories, infantilised to a certain degree, which suggest to us the mentality of a characteristically naive and positive per- son. His glossy photographs, the coloured objects that he includes in his installations or the amateur choreographies of his videos, reveal the in- fluences from popular culture that have surrounded his development as a person and artist: pop or disco music, the fantasy of Japanese animation, the Disney world... Bubi is in his work through its very nature, though not only. He likes to do self portraits, either as the protagonist of the scene, or masked or in disguise, adopting a new identity. 

Iconic identities 

These broken identities typify the creator’s work, drawing on the power of surprise. In the photographic series Chándal, 2006, the artist identifies himself with the horse he is riding, through the parallel between the human hair and the mane. It is an early piece by the artist, in which a movement, a tension, appears, one that disappears in later works. Is it a hybrid, a centaur fighting a Lapita? 

I tend to interpret Bubi Canal’s work as an examination of the classic mythological scenes. The characters that he imagines for his photographs and videos transmit an iconic condition; we can decipher their meaning by analysing their attributes or reading the texts that accompany them. 

The portrait entitled Supercolor, 2009, could be a contemporary interpretation of a missing statue of Pallas Athena; the vegetation that surrounds the head of the goddess like a halo acts as the classic laurel; the helmet is a symbol of her power as a warrior, like a shield or lance. 

With its oblique or new meanings, in the work of Bubi Canal there is a large space for the unexplained, for what he himself describes as the magical things that can happen, a great fluidity between the strategies of representation and the emotions that are aroused in the spectator, captivated.