Babe, Terror ~ Horizogon

A dazzling view of decomposition. The world melting away into golden, exuberant waste, its alluring outlines suddenly coinciding with the absent form of people long dead, of broken memories peacefully drifting away into nothingness. What is the shape of that detritus? How does it delimit the paths we take throughout the ruins-in-the-making that intermittently flash through the endless lights of our contemporary cities? How many sides does this simultaneously dreadful and wonderful form has?

Horizogon’s composite nature begins with the name: the word “horizon”, as boundary and limit, and the suffix “-gon”, indicating the number of angles of a shape. The creative use of geometric and physics language that Babe, Terror enacts corresponds to the kaleidoscopic collage of musical currents and tones that clash, conjoin, become the same volume and then slowly separate once again. Jazz, film music, classical variations, choral pieces, piano nocturnes, elevator music – everything is warped, everything flows into everything else, not in harmonious unity but in a monstrous lapse of body horror.

When The Caretaker kickstarted haunted ballroom in 1999, the creeping sense of a world in passing had perhaps not yet reached the levels of despair that twenty one years later underlines the bright networks of our infinite interconnections across the globe. While Leyland Kirby has basically remained the foremost artist of the end of times, primarily as individual psychological process, Babe, Terror now joins the funeral in the ancient role of the mourner, pointing at the severing of social relations, at the collective states of exception that allow, even if only for a short while, extreme expressions of grief. Horizogon is accompanied by a series of montage videos of the artist’s home city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, taken with a hand-cam, often at strange hours, and juxtaposed with scenes from carnivals: extreme joy fades, but it does not disappear, it morphs into the shape of loneliness, of cities emptied of their social meanings. Taken at the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, it is significant that the series begins with an airport, that liminal space par-excellence, its horizons both incredibly limited and vast, its collectivities inherently broken down into pieces soon to be in transit.

As a multimedia piece, Horizogon brings an elegiac tone to bear upon the isolation and nostalgia felt across COVID-19 lockdowns in the entire world, showing people happily planning events, walking along the beach, casually going on about their lives, even romantically enjoying an empty street deep at night; as the melancholic musical collage ebbs and flows, it is hard not to see all those connections and interactions as one sees the remnants of a culture gone extinct thousands of years ago. Babe, Terror’s production also contains the harsh traces of psychological breakdown, but unlike The Caretaker’s approach, his ultimate focus is the collective experience of time ending, the estrangement of massive choral pieces – the voices of many turned into one – that act like magma upon the neighboring geography of smooth jazz and classical standards, dissolving everything in its path at an infinite number of angles. Memory is here the memory of belonging, less than the memory of the self, but it is our collective voice what is slowly and surely melting the world away, a beautiful and horrifying process of self-erasure.

Horizogon, as Babe, Terror’s latest entry into haunted ballroom, is the perfect match for our times, in which the future is perhaps nothing but an abandoned arcade, haphazardly turning on so as to show the ruins around it that here once lived joyful creatures addicted to bright lights, and that the shape they emptied out with their passing is now occupied by phantoms made of static. (David Murrieta Flores)

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