Press Release of the Exhibition
In a text about the atmosphere, Leonardo da Vinci brings together the line, the dot and the surface, which, for him, are names without
substance. The surface is contact: it is the name given to that which separates the bodies from the air around them; it is the border
between the things and the atmosphere; it has a name but it is bodiless. Diogo Pimentão’s oeuvre seems to stand in this dynamic
place of passage, using the language of the line, the dot and the surface. Therefore, and despite the understandable inclination to
do so, Pimentão’s works cannot be distributed into the two categories of sculpture or drawing: everything is drawing (line, dot and
surface) and body in his work. In fact, what determines each piece’s identity is the way drawing operates and “lives” in the space.
The artist’s modus operandi hinges on the way he deals with the physical space of the gallery, its walls, its perspectives
- its floor. It is possible to say, without taking the discipline of choreography beyond its limits, that there is a conscious training of
the fragile body of drawing, by suspending it over the floor or making it lean against the wall and find its own strength. That is why it
is not unusual for Diogo Pimentão to start making the work in his studio only to complete it during the exhibition set up. The studio
becomes a space for rehearsal whereas the gallery turns into a stage. His material is often paper, a medium whose fate is usually to
symbolically loose its material status to become a surface. The two works Participle #1 (2015) and Participle #2 (2015) are made
of thick paper covered with graphite lines akin to a metallic skin, that the artist folds or bends in order to shape them, in the present
case, into modular fine and long cuboid shapes. Just like a choreographer with his group of dancers, the limitations and surprising
outcomes of these bodies produce unexpected shapes. And like the performer’s body the paper is also a space in itself, and intense
concentration of experiences and happenings. Disclosure (2015) is thus a shape that folds onto itself, without beginning or end.
In (visible) #1 and #2 (2015) are a more radical development of an ensemble of works that Diogo Pimentão has been
creating for a decade. These stem from an understanding of the studio floor as an inverted drawing, a space accumulating residue
from the movements and the materials of the drawings. Following this line of thought, the artist has removed, fragment by fragment,
the plastic layer that protected the floor and had collected the graphite, the gesso, the dust and the footprints. He then proceeded
to transfer each fragment onto the paper sheet. The inverted floor of the drawing was absorbed by the paper’s bonding material thus
becoming one with it. It now reveals its hitherto hidden side, that had been compressed between the air and the object - a revealed
Press Release of the Exhibition
DREAMCATCHER is the third exhibition by Christian Andersson at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, in Lisbon.
The language of dreams—as well as the temptation of utopia—is present in this exhibition: it is as if an aura of
freedom and reflection upon the world was being seen in absolute parallax. The video Dreamcatcher can be seen
as the index of the show, in the sense that some of its pieces refer to visual and mental images that a seemingly
broken narrative sequence gradually builds within a physical space, a house, or a compartmentalized basement
where we are confronted with a painting by Giorgio de Chirico [The Child’s Brain (1914)]. If, on the one hand,
the feeling of seeing images within images, like paintings inside other paintings, is plausible, on the other hand,
we feel as if suspended in a perspective of mise en abyme that surprises us as the camera progresses to the last
room, where we have a quick glimpse of images on a wall that comprise the surreal atlas of the spaces through
which we traveled in the first half of this piece. The path is asymmetric, leading us through modernist interiors and
other spaces that can either be part of some oneiric universe or an amalgam of loose pages that once belonged
to an encyclopedia of the history of humankind—not forgetting to include the unpredictable field of science fiction,
as in it resides the imagination that is anchored in the surpassing of the utopic projection of reality.
However, an animated sequence in which a marine animal—the Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis)— progressively envelops a model of the DNA molecular structure and tips it down, breaks the temporal cycle
marked by the digital clock and sends us back, through a shapeless sequence, to images we recognize as
real filmed objects, until the moment we enter that first room of that indiscriminate basement. Nonetheless, this
relation between fictional, illustrative or documental images and the space where the film is shot is betrayed, or
to be more precise, punctuated by small spheres (magnets) that support the cut out images of the atlas. This
subtle difference between planes establishes an ambiguous relation between what stands out in the image and
the visual plane. Filmed in slow motion, the latter appears to be immense and creates an equilibrium between
the fanciful mirage every image has the power to trigger and the image’s own plastic reality as the model for an
ambulation filmed in close proximity. This allows us to focus on each micro-event inscribed in each image, much
like what we could see in Godard’s Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo (1993), a film in which a single image may contain a
myriad of references that make us doubt the tragedy this document focuses on, but that are overpowered by the
reality described by the voice-over and dissected by the slow camera movements.
Let us go back to de Chirico and to how Christian Andersson implicates us in this duality between the space for
the image and the images he uses to construct the space for the spectator. A kind of colonnade descends from
the gallery ceiling, creating a fragile architecture—as pliable as a paper ruin—where we can recognize a shape
from the work by the Italian painter we saw in the film. In the original painting, is this element the fragment of a
column or a curtain? It is in this sense that the sensation produced by fiction and by the materiality of the works
can induce us in error concerning the different manifestations of what we consider to be real. Much like that hand:
is that really a hand caressing and waking up the young man in the painting? What kind of melancholy can the
reality of an automaton express? How can (in Andersson’s work) the metaphysical universe of de Chirico coexist
with Heinrich von Kleist’s On the Marionette Theatre?
This also happens with the piece Year One, a panel of drawings that, without repeating the “atlas” of images we
can see in the film Dreamcatcher, invites us to a similar process of imaginary construction of yet another chain
of fragmented narratives. This duality I refer to finds in the double clapperboard (a sculpture made of wood
with the title Clapper) the reason to initiate the two takes that define us as humans: the dream (freedom) and
its correspondence with ineffable aspects of the real, which can be obfuscated by everyday experience and its
Press Release of the Exhibition
PICTURES and CREAM,
The confidential report of the life and opinions of
Tristram Shandy & friends, Volume 1
a project curated by Paulo Mendes
for Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art
< opening July 9, 2015 _10pm
This exhibition proposes a wandering narrative through stories and fictional biographies. It is an exhibitive project in process and a speculative study regarding the creation and construction of narratives and personalities. On exhibit are artworks, objects and documentation that suggest births and deaths, philosophy and journeys, marriages and betrayals, frauds and obsessions.
The point of departure for conceptualizing this exhibition, the ‘MacGuffin’ which unleashed this intrigue, is the book The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, written and published by Laurence Sterne, between 1759 and 1768, in 18th century England and which constitutes a satire of the conventions and classical references of literature. Drawing from this (pre)text, we will focus on autofiction – a hybridized notion situated between the autobiography and the novella, on the border between true and false – which may be considered as a form of expression characteristic of contemporary art. Indeed, be it through invented pseudonyms, of alter-egos and imaginary lives, or of fictional self-portraits, masks and prosthetics, many are the artist/creators who experiment by means of mythological personages, the development of new manners of representing/expressing the transformation of their persona.
The creators produce a constant re-reading of the chaos of global culture, annulling distinctions between creating and copying, the ready-made and the original work. The notions of creation and originality fade away in this continual ‘sampling’ of the cultural landscape. Manipulating forms and pre-established formats, contemporary artists make use of them to decode models and produce other currents of reality, namely, alternative narratives. Contemporary narratives are permanently fragmented and de-centered, the present depicts itself in the dimension of an anti-narrative, heirs of Warhol, Debord or Godard. There is no linear story, but various stories which are simultaneously developing. The classic narrative has exploded into a plurality of micro-narratives – we are standing before a shattered reality, an exquisite corpse of multiple writings. Increasingly artists create projects that involve processes of investigation and a critical usage of both documental and visual material. This cartographic practice results here, as in other instances, in a site-specific assembly, involving a performative implication of the participant, activating the spectator, integrating them into this exhibition-installation.
An exhibition-installation is an exhibit as a device. It is an exhibit without beginning nor end, an organic transformation of the space, in process. An exhibition-installation is a fragment in time where a cluster of artworks and objects are convoked for a temporary and improbable encounter. A fraction of time wherein all the contributions, visual and documentary, function as an exhibit, a total installation, a unique object that may be visited, walked through, penetrated. Something transitory and immaterial in its grouping, in its reading – which in the moment the exhibition is over, separates and dematerializes, awarding each element, each work, a new found autonomy, individuality, which had been provisionally shared in a total project.
This project proposes a reflection regarding the different possibilities of experimenting with curatorial practice, in its conceptual and spatial dimensions, upon the standard formats, as much imaginary as material. A group of thirty-eight creators, artists, filmmakers and designers are summoned to manipulate their fiction machines, through mediums such as cinema, video, photography, painting, drawing, the poster or the installation. How to transform a book into an object?---------------How to transform a book into an exhibit?-------------And a gallery into a book? How might a book shed its primary vocation of being read to be transformed into a complex spatial object?--------------Would it be possible to three-dimensionalize a book into an exhibition-installation?
# PICTURES and CREAM, The confidential report of the life and opinions of Tristram Shandy & friends, Volume 1, is a project curated by Paulo Mendes for Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art in Lisbon, with the participation of_
A Practice for Everyday Life, Adriano Amaral, André Cepeda, António Júlio Duarte, António Olaio, Carla Filipe, Christian Andersson, Erwin Wurm, Fabrizio Matos, Fernando Calhau, Filipa César, Gilbert & George, Jérémy Pajeanc, Jim Shaw, João Onofre, João Paulo Ferreira / Cineground, João Pedro Trindade, John Baldessari, Jorge Molder, Julião Sarmento, Lawrence Weiner, Mafalda Santos, Maria Trabulo, Matt Mullican, Mike Kelley, Mirka Lugosi, Non-verbal Club, Óscar Alves / Cineground, Paul McCarthy, Pedro Pousada, Pierre Candide, R2, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince, Rosângela Rennó, Rui Toscano, Tatjana Doll and Von Calhau.
The opening of this project will be held on July 9 at 10pm at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, located at 33 Rua Santo António à Estrela, in Lisbon and online at the gallery website www.cristinaguerra.com.
The exhibition will be open to the public between July 9th and September 16th, 2015
Press Release of the Exhibition
After her first show in Portugal, at the Centro de Arte Moderna, Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), in May 2014, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, a Russian-Tunisian artist born 1978 in Tunis, presents her first exhibition at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art Gallery, also in Lisbon.
In “No Frills”, the exhibition now shown at the gallery, the artist presents several series of images, drawings, prints, and one sculpture.
The serial systematization of the works has a strong temporal aspect ─ opposing the singular and the universal ─ and is made under a perspective that is inscribed in her investigation process. Without the intention of inventorying the historicist models she often recovers in abandoned and forgotten (or censored) archives, the artist examines them without loosing track of their political and anthropological meaning at any particular time, but whose historical correlate comprises a time span that includes many issues we face in our daily lives.
In this sense, and concerning the referents she convokes (without being literal) in the visual and plastic expression she employs in her work, this universal dimension of her work is timeless. This procedure opens (to the viewer) a field of possibilities that makes it possible to connect a multiplicity of contemporary realities and meanings with different historical records, associated with human practices that we recognize in the laborious relationship we have with difference, ever present in actions and behaviours based on codes we believe to belong in the past, but that remain present.
On the other hand, and whatever the technique she uses, the works by Nadia Kaabi-Linke are produced with graceful artistry, as is the case of the piece “Stretched Perm” (2014), in which she produces lines introducing her own hair in the printing press. And here we return to how the artist constructs the dialectic relation between the singular and the universal, between what hair means to all humans and her own hair used as a matrix in the printing process. This action is potentially politic in the sense that her body, not being used as the model in a passive and contemplative perspective, is the matter and the register, if we can say so, of the inscription of time in her own existence as a human being ─ and as a woman ─ corporealized in this apparently repeated image, in the succession suggested by the series. However, these images imply another stratification of her work, one that is not limited to a simple action of decontextualization, and chooses to systematize the fragment, extracting it from its unifying context. The piece “Faces” (2014) is a prime example of this practice, revealing the reaffirmation of identity that the individual portrait configures in western tradition. Each image is a portrait ─ almost spectral ─ that preserves a sign of life in the eyes of the depicted South African natives. Belonging to different ethnic groups, such as the Zulu, Basuto, Matabele, or Swasi, these natives were often uniformed in a group image that was later reproduced in some kind of poster, or in propaganda imagery used in newspapers or travel guides in Britain. These individuals were, however, workers in South African mines and participated in this “mise-en-scene” as performers and hoping to achieve some financial gain with these representations. In this perspective, these natives are part of the propaganda construct that supported the fiction that these South Africans, represented as savages, would become more civilized through the contact with Western culture, religion, and education, glorified in the United Kingdom as agents for civilization and salvation. The images in the piece “Faces”, reproduced with contemporary technology and in high resolution, remain faithful to the original pictures and were not subjected to any kind of photographic manipulation, thus establishing a historical correlate with the form and technique used in the representation of difference.
Nonetheless, in her work the fragment is not only used as a device. It is also a metaphor of memory and presence ─ the dynamic chronicle of an absence, whether factual or interpreted as a social deprivation. 'Bicycle' (2015) is a piece that occupies a large area on the gallery wall. Like a vast screen where, in each drawing, graphite signals the shadow of a bicycle ─ a common model of feminine typology ─ parked in a street in Berlin from daybreak to sunset. Also here, the work by Kaabi-Linke reveals a certain uneasiness, a recontextualization of what is factual and inscribed in her work. The bicycle is identifiable, its movement is there, and the fact that it is an urban object, with ecological connotations that today have a strong expression in our culture, is also present in the work. But it is a deferred presence, playing with our relationship with the visual memory of the object that, in this work, is represented by the projection of its shadow, moving under the aegis of the sundial that partitions and conditions our daily lives. The movement of the shadow of this open frame bicycle translates, in the artist’s thought, as a metaphor for change and transience ─ an active memory of her country of origin as this analogy with real time corresponds to another transformation: the political and constitutional transition that now in Tunisia materializes in the women’s struggle for autonomy against an Islamic system.
As we can see in the sculpture “No one harms me unpunished” (2012), these and other issues propose a political dimension of her work that is not shied away from any topic or power structures that somehow, and independently of their historical time, affect and determine our human condition. Because of this, the political dimension of Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s work singles out and identifies symbols and customs that represent acts of resistance or oppression. An ethical stance that reveals the contradictions and inversions of meaning in the historical construction of the world we live in. As we face “No one harms me unpunished” we are confronted with a sculpture in which we apparently recognize a bed made from narrative sediments we can trace back to other eras, but are at the same time symbolically present in their meaning. They are stories of war between Vikings and Scots, but also the thorns of the crown worn by Jesus on the cross. The basic structure of this sculpture, tangled wire supporting a mattress, entails a reflection on the objects we recognize from our first days, such as the bed, place of rest, of love, or of death. This bed can be the space of what is to be, a space that in its formal beauty can be rediscovered as the place for thought, a place where to reflect on the sociocultural transformations in progress in our ever changing and acculturating societies.
In the work by Nadia Kaabi-Linke, history is a precarious and transient membrane that unveils our ways of life, confronting us with them and with their possible use as symbols of submission, repression, or resistance.