Press Release of the Exhibition
curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler
Artists: Philippe Decrauzat | Norma Jeane | Dave Allen | Loris Greaud | Tony Matelli | Gianni Motti | Luca Francesconi | Pierre Vadi | Joachim Koester
Nov 17th 2006 > Jan 6th 2007
“Have you heard about the illness hysteria siberiana? it affects farmers staying in Siberia. Try to imagine this. You're a farmer, living all alone on the Siberian tundra. Day after day you plough your fields. As far as the eye can see, nothing. To the north, the horizon, to the east, the horizon, to the south, to the west, more of the same. Every morning, when the sun rises in the east, you go out to work in your fields. When its directly over head, you take a break for lunch. When it sinks in the west, you go home to sleep. (..) Day after day you watch the sun rise in the east, pass across the sky, then sink in the west, and something breaks inside you and dies. You throw your plough aside and, your head completely empty of thought, you begin walking toward the west. Heading toward a land that lies west of the sun. Like someone possessed, you walk on, day after day, not eating or drinking, until you collapse on the ground and die. That's hysteria siberiana.'
(Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun)
The curator and artists Pierre Vadi and Phillipe Decrauzat will be present during the opening reception.
Press Release of the Exhibition
'NOSES & EARS, ETC.'
a new series of works by John Baldessari
Jun 7th > Sep 9th 2006
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to announce that John Baldessari, one of the most important and influential American artists to emerge since the 1960s, will be showing NOSES & EARS, ETC., an entirely new series of works, comprised of framed three-dimensional digital photographic prints with acrylic paint. This one-man show is one of the artist’s first in a commercial gallery in the city of Lisbon.
Born in National City, California in1931, John Baldessari was influenced by Dada and Surrealist literary and visual ideas. He rose to prominence in the late1960s when he began combining mass media imagery with language, Pop vigour with Conceptual density. Baldessari, early in his long and much celebrated career, began incorporating layers of found materials (billboard posters, photographs, film stills, bits of conversations) on his plain white canvases. These montages, which result from the juxtaposition, edition and cropping of image and text, served to thwart narrative coherence and play off chance relationships between otherwise discreet elements. His photo-based work was also a means of introducing photography into galleries, in an ongoing attempt to undermine certain taboos.
In 1970, Baldessari cremated most of his pre-1966 paintings. This marked his turn from painting to embrace contemporary strategies of cross-over and collisions between mediums. His subsequent work, nonetheless, remained steeped in the issues of painting. During the 1970s, Baldessari, who had been using snapshots of his hometown, discovered a wealth of images in photo shops. He began “dumpster diving”, gathering B-movie film stills, publicity shots and press material. “At a certain point I had these huge folders, each one classified according to a subject matter or genre: people with guns, people kissing, Indians and cowboys falling off horses, getting shot, getting shot with arrows –almost every plot device. Then I cropped the cheap, recycled imagery to give exhausted images new meaning, or at least something other than the original meaning” [John Baldessari in conversation with Jeremy Blake, Artforum, March 2004, p. 163]. This was achieved by gathering these readily available images in grids or freely arranged, multi-panel combinations that could elicit a range of meanings, rather than a single, fixed definition.
By the 1980s, he had abandoned text, turning to found pictures alone as a sufficient means of expounding his composites. Later, he adopted coloured sticker-like dots, painted in acrylic, as a means of erasing the identity of people and flattening the image. Like these previous works, NOSES & EARS, ETC. is a continuation of the artist’s interest in the idea of editing and censoring, questioning and foregrounding “what we leave in and what we leave out” [expression taken from a conversation with Christian Boltanski, entitled “What is Erased”, see:
Like the title itself denotes, this new series focuses ears and noses by excising the rest of the face. These over-paintings are a continuation of the artist’s wry game of omission, which has marked his work in an overall sense. Baldessari blocks out the lips, eyes, wrinkles and spots, any telltale features of a person, by over-painting. In doing so, he obscures the face, shattering instant identification or interpretation of these images.
“What I leave out is more important. I want that absence, which creates a kind of anxiety” [Artforum, March 2004].
As Baldessari himself points out, the eye or lips in isolation have extensively been focused in art history, for instance, Man Ray’s much reproduced ‘Lips’ from 1966 or the infamous eye-slicing in ‘Un Chien Andalou’. The nose and ears, inversely, do not readily catch the observer and look strange and uncanny in isolation, somewhat phallic when enlarged.
This series also tells us something of what Baldessari terms “the return of the repressed. The more you try to blot it out, the more it is going to be there” [Artforum, March 2004]. In fact, some of the works in the series are reminiscent of hoods, which heighten the dimension of phantasmagoria, or raising of the spectres, that underpins photography and is extensive to these works.
Born the son of an Austrian coal miner and Danish nurse who arrived in America during the Depression, John Baldessari has been living in Santa Monica, California, since 1970. He attended San Diego State University and did post-graduate work at Otis Art Institute and Chouinard Art Institute and U.C. Berkeley. He has received honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland, San Diego State University and Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design.
His remarkable tenure as a teacher at the California Institute of the Arts has influenced generations of artists, such as Matt Mullican, Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley. John Baldessari’s work has been featured in more than 120 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe and in over 300 group exhibitions. In 2007 he will collaborate with the Kunst Museum Bonn and Bonner Kunstverein, Germany, for an exhibition celebrating musical connections with his work. In 2005, a two-part retrospective of his work was held at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stifting Ludwig Wien and the Kunsthaus Graz in Austria and the Museé d’Art Contemporain, Nimes. ‘Somewhere Between Almost Right and Not Quite (with Orange)’ took place at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin in 2004/5. Other recent major solo exhibitions were held at the Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik (2001), the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (1999); the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Trento, Italy (2000/1); and the Museum für Gegenwartkunst, Zurich and Witte de With, Rotterdam (1998).
Press Release of the Exhibition
'Room Number 4'
a continuation of works by Matt Mullican
May 3rd > Jun 3rd 2006
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to announce that Matt Mullican will be showing ROOM NUMBER 4, one of the chambers from his installation ‘Learning from That Person’s Work’, initially conceived for the Ludwig Museum in Cologne. In his introduction to the Ludwig catalogue, Kaspar König describes the exhibition as a “locus of emergence” with “hundreds of drawings and collages via a multi-layered complex”. Made with numerous bed sheets that function as supports for the works on paper, this fragile, labyrinthine architecture, designed by Mullican, replaces the gallery with “that person’s” world.
Viewers who immerse in the room, who climb under the covers, discover a rich world of everyday experiences and visual information that describes “that person”, an experimental framework of otherness. The drawings do not outline the beliefs and daily rituals of a specific individual or fictitious character, but rather a situation or place which the artist picks up on in his unconsciousness and expounds. This vague person emerges with hypnosis, a free-forming state of reception, where the artist looks for ways of being, rather than individuals. “When I am in the trance, it’s like you’re a radio, an AM radio. I’m receiving different kinds of information”.
Matt Mullican, in conversation with Ulrich Wilmes, explains “it’s like trying to create connections after the person has died. So it was a biography before it is a person (…) Usually, what happens is that the biography is written after the person has died, in this case, however, we try to create a person from his biography or from the beginning”. Mullican patches this symbolic character together on the sheets: the things he does, the things he likes to do, the songs he loves… in order to create a context that becomes the biography of an anonymous, ageless, genderless person.
In addition to the installation, a video of Mullican under hypnosis and a selection of photographs of the artist’s default atmospheres, dream-like skies and artificial seas of down that suggest flight, will be on view.
Now living in New York, Matt Mullican was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1951. He received a bachelor of fine arts degree at the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, where he studied with John Baldessari. He has exhibited his work widely in the US and abroad since the mid-1970s.
Press Release of the Exhibition
JOÃO PAULO FELICIANO
'The Blues Quartet'
Mar 30th > Apr 29th 2006
new and recent work featuring objects, video, light, sound and music.
This spring Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents new work by Portuguese artist João Paulo Feliciano. Drawing on themes of encoding and breakdown, this exhibition explores the artist’s instrumentalization of objects, colour, light, sound and music. Feliciano’s light-sculptures use sound – melody and the spoken work - and its breakdown, often into kaleidoscopic, sensuous, giddy, colourful products.
João Paulo Feliciano is interested in random systems that open up the possibility for infinite combinations. His multi-disciplinary installations can be seen as starting points, triggers to a series of variations. The structure of the 4 works on display in this show marry high and low tech; designer objects and found, discarded, everyday pieces; sculpture, light and sound in mesmerizing performative compositions.
In his approach to techonology Feliciano eschews modernity’s child, the productive mechanism, awakening it from monotony to a dream of creativity and wonder.
Feliciano’s current exhibition not only reveals the artist as an engineer, but a musician in absence.
THE BLUES QUARTET, 2005
Wood, plexiglas, aluminium, various types of bulbs, tripods, sound-to-light modulators
190 x 190 x 220 cm
The Blues Quartet, a sound and light sculpture-installation and centerpiece of this exhibition, explores the crossover between aural and visual art. Four different lamps stand upright on the corners of a table-stage. On top of the table-stage, two planes of dark blue transparent perspex intersect to divide the space in four. The four lights blink in response to the sound of music playing, creating reflections, transparencies and juxtapositions; a bewildering choreography of light, colour and sound.
Designed to evolve in directions the artist may not have anticipated, Feliciano’s Quartet is a spellbinding experience.
In 2007, THE BLUES QUARTET will tour the US on a co-production between
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art & the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinatti
DA DISCUSSÃO NASCE A LUZ (Discussion Brings Enlightenment), 2005
CD audio, stereo, 10 min., in loop.
2 table lamps, 2 sound-to-light modulators, table
variable dimensions (according to table size)
edition of 3 - the table and one of the lamps (B) are different in each of the copies.
soundtrack: Rafael Toral; text: Octávio Nunes; voices: Bruno Nogueira, Manuel Marques.
Quite often Feliciano make use of simple technology to shape sound and light into sensuous, funny happenings, such as the nonsensical, jabbering lamps in ‘Da Discussão Nasce a Luz’ (discussion brings enlightenment), where the artist anthropomorphizes these otherwise unthinking, unresponsive table lamps. Staging them on opposite sides of a table, Feliciano sets up a conversing pair: a Modernist and a Romantic, who engage in a dialogue of common-places expressions with their modified voices loosely representing the paradigms. Two idiots who offhandedly beat about the bush.
PEQUENO POEMA ELÉCTRICO, 2005
Wood (plywood), plexiglas, electrolitic condensers, copper wire
40 x 30 x 40 cm
Edition of 3
The sculpture Pequeno Poema Eléctrico is one of the show’s most discrete pieces. A small optical trick is performed by two electrolytic condensers positioned on each side of a sheet of dark blue transparent perspex. Connected by a pair of electrical wires, the poles seem to cross the perspex sheet. According to Brazilian-based art critic Claudia Laudanno, “Feliciano introduces us to a field of aesthetic chemistry where transgression and desire enhance the shifted order”. The sculpture also harks back to the work of Portuguese artist Noronha da Costa and his explorations of reality and illusion, light and shadow, presence and absence.
NO SOUND IS INNOCENT, 2006
MPEG-4 video file, i-Pod player. foam, pencil on wall
80 x 60 x 5 cm
‘No Sound is Innocent’ was designed by the artist as an affective sculptural-piece evoking the power of music and its ability to remove us from presence, taking us back to important moments in our lives and preventing us from loosing their season, their atmosphere, their taste. This rapport is also simultaneously associated and prompted by the technology we use to play our favourite songs: for more than a century, advances in technology have shaped our intimacy with music. Whereas the physical size of LPs and record players was best suited for the experience of communal listening at home, the I-Pod gives us individuality, portability and unpredictability, providing us with a more pervasive and immersive relationship with music. The imagery associated with music has evolved accordingly: if the colourful printed cover of the LP was static yet large enough to imprint an affective image, the MPEG video file gives us a much smaller and less glamorous picture, yet it allows us to easily record and playback moments of our own lives, opening new dimensions to how we deal with our memories.
credits: all images © 2006 João Paulo Feliciano
courtesy: Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art
Press Release of the Exhibition
LUÍS PAULO COSTA
Feb 25th > Mar 25th 2006
Out in the open, laid bare – this could be a slogan for pornography. When speaking of pornography, this reference isn’t exclusively about a specific subgenre of the film industry. Porn also pertains to a particular notion of the right to look, the provision of the need to expose, which this industry holds as its paradigm. Its expansion into other pictorial regimes instills the gaze as an absolute examination of a clear, perceptible image. Sight, or the ability to see, means putting everything, with the exception of parade, inventory and the close-up gaze, aside.
This overture was prompted by Luís Paulo Costa’s eye level, one of the pieces on display (which also lends its title to the exhibition), an ordinary wooden shelf placed on one of the walls at about 1.72m from the ground. Each porn image, scattered on the surface of the shelf, explicitly discloses a variation of the sexual act. The question lies in how the shelf has been placed, how it stops us from seeing, how the images have been stuck to the table in layers, how they are rendered inaccessible behind their successive layers.
It is my contention that the relationship between the spectator and this piece synthesizes the issues that have guided the artist throughout his course. The shelf, initially regarded by the spectator as an everyday, industrially produced object, seems somewhat sterile, devoid of anything worth notice. Although it is has been placed here for all to see, it seems to disappear amongst the standard objects that amass during our lives – objects we use without talking notice. This indistinctness, together with the act of being displayed, calls for further inspection as we discover the pornographic images on it. The way the images are revealed is almost sadistic: linked by definition to the promise of laying bare, the images (depending on how tall you are) disclose borders, edges, lifeless zones that photographers ignore on the most part. Further on, as we resume the forensic activity that characterizes our relationship with Luís Paulo Costa’s body of work, it becomes clear that the artist has meticulously painted the wood and photos; objects disappear beneath the artist’s brush as he copies their every detail.
The fact is that the objects presented by this artist – and this exhibition, as we shall see, is no exception – always point towards the juncture between visibility and invisibility, to a point where these categories cannot be mutually excluded. As we have seen, these objects are mostly industrial, standardized by nature, far from unique or exclusive; just because they have been individually and meticulously painted, their status (trivial and generic) isn’t wholly denied, for the time spent painting them suffers an elision (the greater the care and precision taking in the copy, the more the artist’s handwork recedes); lastly, because Luís Paulo Costa frustrates our instituted right to see, to see everything clearly and precisely. Costa does this exceptionally well, without exclusively using what lies out of focus, without obstructing the gaze or employing strategies of effacement. In standing, another of the artist’s pieces on display, a film is projected onto a hanging screen. A conventional bench, used in museums and galleries, has been placed for visitors to watch the video in comfort. We soon realize nothing seems to be taking place – the screen remains blank – as if nothing were being projected. Some of us may be temped to stand up and work our way around the screen. On doing this, the colour of the projected image, its whiteness, confirms a presence: the invariable projection of a film of the wall on the other side, together with the sound of the gallery during a normal day of work. The subtle irony of this installation lies in the fact that it is extremely revealing and clear at the same time that it confronts us with our visual rights (notice that the white bench we use to seat ourselves has also been painted with the exact original colour, as well as the forlorn paper bag in one of the corners). Our need for unity, clarification and closure has been disregarded: the video begins each time somebody enters the room, incessantly repeating itself. It has no beginning or end, and more so, less of an end to explain a beginning.
The largest installation to this exhibition occupies most of the gallery’s upper space. This piece is also about motion picture. Using strips of VHS, the artist writes the phrase see and see not on one of the walls – which is equivalent to saying that he has ensured we will be unable to see the film as it is used in the installation. The gallery floor on the other hand has been covered with hundreds of films that have been removed from their cassettes. In other words, the element that occupies most space, that which is truly sculptural, which we inevitably stumble upon, is, at the same time, that which expresses the impossibility of seeing, for all of these films have been rendered useless.
In another room, Luís Paulo Costa has erected a second, fake wall that is the exact length of the original behind it. This second wall becomes evident as it doesn’t entirely cover the one behind it, being only 1.70 m tall. This means that lofty visitors are able to see the hollow between the walls and a wad of notes tied together with an elastic band on the ground, both of which have been painted by the artist.
The dollars refer to financial transactions we have all seen in movies. In some, people check if the notes are real, in others, briefcases abound with dollars that hide a stuffing of white paper below – money can be a piece of painted paper or just a thin coat that covers something worthless. Luis Paulo Costa’s wad is potentially both, a painting over a note that covers a sheaf of paper. Most people will never get a clear purview of the piece, for the notes cannot be given the once-over.
Another piece, entitled nude descending a staircase, immediately evokes absent objects – something that is effectively missing, that cannot be embodied, namely the works of Marcel Duchamp and Gerhard Richter. The piece, placed on top of the staircase which leads down to one of the gallery’s rooms and holding, is basically comprised of a pair of shoes and two garments which have been painted over with their original colour. The shoes and clothes appear at random, discarded by the woman who stripped before descending the stairs. In other words, the title, to start with, points towards something we cannot see, circumscribing a space of absence.
Once again, the objects Luís Paulo Costa appropriates are quite ordinary – black shoes and clothes without any real appeal. Why? Because he is interested in presenting objects as they disappear (without employing tricks). I will try to explain. The artist normally chooses, as we have seen, mass-produced objects. He chooses things that are practically invisible in their natural environment - shelf, bench, telephone, jug, paper bag, cigarette pack – all deserve an award for their design precisely because they present no signs whatsoever of having been designed. This represents one of the artist’s first concerns with disappearance. But Luís Paulo does not employ the ready-made, he does not simply stick to confiscating objects. He usually covers them with paint according to the object’s original palette, attributing them with enough importance to spend meticulous hours working on them, yet simultaneously ensuring that they disappear as he covers them. On displaying these objects, he safeguards the tension between presence and disappearance (some objects can always go unnoticed), instituting the spectator’s activity as a circuit, a forensic circuit, where the artist claims participation from the audience, rather than mere accompaniment. If some of the artist’s pieces are trying, this is because he tweaks our relationship with images. Visitors stand on their tip-toes, peer between walls, inspect the reverse of a canvas. eye level locates us as potential voyeurs, as viewers of fragments, nothings – this effort merely underscores the pointlessness of wanting to see everything, more. Pornography’s slogan has no place here, for what is has been given up to observation is partial, devoid of the real, its saturation and loopholes.
Text by Ricardo Nicolau
Translated by Nancy Dantas
Press Release of the Exhibition
Jan 12th > Feb 18th 2006
Between May 20 and June 18 of 2005, artist Miguel Palma (b. Lisbon, 1964) covered 16 000 km throughout Europe in a Porsche Carrera 911. During this period of less than 30 days, he visited 43 museums and contemporary art venues in a campaign to promote his work. Miguel Palma’s show at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art gallery wraps up “Projecto Ariete” in a summation of the experience: the car, cockpit, uniform, sound track, sponsors, merchandising and documentation, two videos and several photographs taken along the journey.
The race, which expresses the artist’s desire to address, break and overcome geographic and institutional borders, to promote and establish himself beyond a scene of local paralysis, began less than a year ago outside the headquarters of one of Portugal’s biggest banks and exhibition centers, the Caixa Geral de Depósitos. Palma’s upbeat audience waved the team away in an atmosphere touched by a scent of camaraderie…
Palma, together with his colleague, cameraman and road map, João Bonito, traveled with two halves of a transparent missile on top of the car. One half contained a MIG flight helmet produced in the USSR; the other part of the missile carried an F15 helmet. On entering museums, Palma would carry the American half of the missile, a video, a selection of about 50 works on a CD-Rom, a T-shirt and mock-up book, documentation that he would explain and leave to whomever he encountered on his journey. This friendly gesture marks an offering during a time of peace marred by economic interests and deadlocks.
Once concluded, “Projecto Ariete” raises several issues, for instance the complex notion of competition, travel, reception and the much-procured artistic acceptance within the international arena.
With the awareness that the sportsman has ceased to be a man struggling against his physical limitations in order to become a servant of the masses and reaction, Miguel Palma places himself once more in the position of the contestant in his own race. Staging the sports mythology of the belle époque, he focuses mechanical skill and the automobile as the sportsman’s tool. With the machine at his service, Palma challenges the enemy coalition of space (artistic internationalization) and time (how artists careers are made at the tender age of 20 and break shortly after) through speed; he displaces futurist ideology by staging it in late-modern culture, where competitive ideology is at the service of competitive society.
In modern times, travel was undertaken often with an eye to social healing, rather than physical or spiritual wellbeing. Travel was seen as a generative experience, a way to feel edified. What Miguel Palma’s videos reveal is the profound feeling of stagnation, rather than such a productive and fulfilling activity. The sense of familiarity of the museums and cities is negative and far from comforting, repetition not only numbs the artist, but those of us who see these continuous cities and museums. ND
Miguel Palma would like to extent a special word of thanks to the Oeiras Town Council for enabling his work.