A supernova, like many phenomena in physics, is cyclical. The larger the star, the faster it consumes its energy and so the shorter its lifespan. The biggest and brightest stars will live fast and die young. This is just a fact of the cosmos. However, what follows from a massive star’s death is quite amazing for a number of reasons; a supernova, through the very process of destruction, will create all the heavier elements that are needed to eventually form planets such as Earth and indeed carbon based life-forms. This is the essence of the idea that we are all made from stardust. Of course the explosion and subsequent shockwave from a supernova can also be the trigger for igniting interstellar dust and gas clouds which will go on to form new stars both massive and medium, like our own Sun.
The text at the back of Supernova by Olmo González Moriana is quite revealing – and a welcome change – in that one paragraph (authored by Daniel Mediavilla) explains the potential for supernovae to affect the planet Earth, while the second paragraph authored by Patricia Reguero Ríos, describes the premise for the book itself. It turns out that Patricia is the smiling and sometimes frowning model throughout the book, indeed she is the catalyst for the supernova. But what of the supernova? Quite intriguingly, the stellar explosion is a metaphor for hers and Olmo’s relationship exploding and causing shockwaves through their own space and time.She writes: “Because Supernova is the story of many ruptures. We broke up a relationship. We broke up plans. We broke up a family.” This is a complicated honesty, a messy tale of chain reactions, and once we reach this information at the end of the book the tendency is to start at the beginning again and re-live each picture in a new light.
The series of images which comprise Supernova are varied with pixelated screenshots; sequential gestures; still life arrangements that play with cosmological imagery such as galaxies in the form of saw dust, or fruit that remind us of the planets; soft luxuriant textures in extreme close-up that can represent primordial swamps, interstellar clouds or sexual juices. Interspersed are broken domestic objects that include wires and walls and picture hooks. All of these play off the portraits of Patricia very well, as her humanity is necessary to support the desolation of the cold object-filled landscape.
A recurring visual motif is used throughout Supernova in the form of a mole on the skin – whose skin it does not matter – but it continues a repetition of circular forms and acts as a reminder of the general tone of the book: that it is sensual, dark, insidious, flawed, celebratory, repetitious and above all very human. By layering visual and psychological puns with such contradictory meanings, González has authored a genuine love story for the 21st century.On a final note, it is worth pointing out that this book was made possible through crowdfunding as well as the Blank Paper School of Madrid who are given due credit, and deservedly so, as the production value and design are equally impressive.