Press Release of the Exhibition
Press Release of the Exhibition
Opening 6th November 2003 at 10pm
7th November to 6th December 2003
The work of João Tabarra (b. 1966, Lisbon, Portugal) has been characterised by the attempt of returning an ethic dimension to artistic production. Having begun his professional activity as a photojournalist and image editor for a big-selling journal, he soon abandoned this practice for the uncertainties of artistic production, in a choice that was strengthened by the suspicion towards the reality and the supposedly neutral and objective character of documental photography. Sharing this distrust towards reality with the distrust towards creative 'will', his work has bent to a critical practice of artistic activity, especially on the broader context of Portuguese society that was integrated on a social and economical plan that was beginning to be designed abroad.
The profound knowledge of the journalistic system has informed him of every image's possibility of being manipulated and of the necessity of a critical and responsible practice in their production. By using an image, either moving or static, as a means for producing significations through stagings that are characterised by an economy of resources in their production, the artist is represented in his work as a 'militant for moral fables', which brings him closer to Jeff Wall's ventriloquism than to an narcissistic or introspective exercise. his images are not self-portraits but rather self-representations, articulated by a scrupulous work of composition together with the attention to detail where every element is taken into account for the global significance of the image, this way coming closer to a critical perspective of 'cinematographic vision' that has been characterising a lot of the contemporary photographic production.
Being a believer in the determinant role of art in transforming the perception of the social field and being opposed to the personal subjectivity present in much of the 90s production, João Tabarra's work indicates the need of always keeping a spirit of critical distrust towards the images that are produced. With strong outlines imported from the neo-conceptualist criticism and from activist art -without ever being mistaken by an 'engagé' posture in an affirmative way - the author pragmatically questions the dominating logics of the information and consumer's society of today. A critical conscience and rigour in the approach, irony and appearance mark his work filmed according to a critical creative strategy and expanded in the photographic field.
For someone who has been choosing the photographic medium as a privileged support for his work, the current exhibition, opening the 6th November at Cristina Guerra - Contemporary Art gallery, confirms the importance that image, in its broader sense, (and also the mediating vision) occupies in its creative process and permanently reminds us how we cannot rely on our vision as a means of mediation with the world and how much technology threatens our belief in reality.
In 'Second Chance' (2003) two identical and simultaneous video screenings, recorded with the resource to two different technological devices (a professional video camera and a state of the art mobile phone equipped with a camera) he presents in a single shot the image of a boat in the horizon, whose content is both stressed out and paradoxically hidden. The difference in registry (in a time when mobility and the video phone connectivity is brought forth an informative device) together with the weight of image permanently reminds us of the possibilities of the common citizen's empowerment by the means of technological democratisation and of the perverse and persecutory effects of that power.
This feeling is magnified in another video where the violent performance that is presented is disrupted by the presence of the 'chroma-green' trace - the older and most basic special effect in audiovisuals - substituting the blood-red, which alerts us to the dangerous neutralisation and unlikeness of the images broadcasted by our mediatic horizon.
Finally, in the last work to be presented, Tabarra is recorded on video handling an embalmed animal, that, very slowly, quotes and ironically re-enacts one of the most famous scenes of the 90s cinematography.
Thus, the central work of the exhibition, 'Officer and Gentleman' (2003), a vertically projected video, portraits the author as a performer (and agent) of a minimal disturbance capable of a maximum changing in the reading of the projected image.
The second work, 'The Carrot Quest' (2003) - a fake loop created by the synchronised projection of five slide projectors - recalls an already posed question: the reification and artificiality in the materialisation of nature, a parable for a life filled with uncertainties and fears.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art
Presents '4 passos, 7 X', a one-man show by Graça Pereira Coutinho
2 to 25 October 2003
Opening 2nd October 2003, at 6pm (Sala do Veado- Museu Nacional de História Natural da Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa) and at 10pm (Galeria Cristina Guerra - Contemporary Art).
Graça Pereira Coutinho (b. 1949, Lisbon, Portugal) began her academic journey in the mid 60s in the Sculpture course of what was then called the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes de Lisboa. Being disappointed with the extreme academism of that institution and with the political situation of the country, she sailed off to England, where she would later on proceed her studies at the Saint Martin’s School of Arts in London, the city where she has been living and working since the 70s.
Having initially enrolled in the Sculpture course (department by which the institution was most well known), she would later switch it by a post-graduation on Painting, which allowed her a greater freedom to experiment and develop her first conceptual researches on what would later become the body of all of her future artistic practice.
About this practice, she would later refer, using the first person: 'The landscape relates to my body, my body relates to places, experiences and feelings.' This sentence, taken from the 1987 John Moores Exhibition (a then prestigious painting exhibition) catalogue, seems to synthesise all of the recurring productive influences in the author’s work: the relation to landscape, the human marks on it, the metaphysical meaning of the performance act, the travels, the personal narrative... However, her approach to landscape has nothing to do with idilios pastoris - a structuring reference for the English landscape tradition - marked by notions of national identity and nostalgia; in the work of Graça Pereira Coutinho, the landscape is revealed by the means of an intimate, particular vision: in the fulfilment of the relationship with her own body and with the natural world, in the attention focused on the genius loci, the spirit of the place (whence the importance of the journeys, which she often does), in the revelation of 'other paths, other worlds' - an inter-textual road that challenges any pragmatic or rational explanation, where the act of consciousness can be founded.
In extending and amplifying these concerns built over an almost thirty year international career, Graça Pereira Coutinho is currently preparing her next one-man show opening the 2nd October at Cristina Guerra - Contemporary Art gallery. Titled '4 passos, 7 X', the planning of the exhibition is set after a selection of the material recorded at the Yellowstone Park (the greater and oldest public park in the USA, being extended over the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho). Far from being a naïve option, the election of this National Park for the video shootings confirms the artist’s modus operandi: on one side in the direct connection to nature, on the other by the park’s own symbolic weight, being the result of a vulcan’s activity, the remainings of another time and solemn witness to the Earth’s history (humankind included), that will, eventually, return to its activity after long centuries of sleep. This expectation for a foreshown catastrophe carries in itself the symbolic mark of a near end, of a natural ‘Armaggedon’ meeting the human-made corruption of the environment.
Starting from the triad Body (the author’s)/ Landscape/ Death as a reflection on the fragility of human condition, opposite to the natural environment and to the anxiety of a foreshown catastrophe, Graça Pereira Coutinho will present, in the extension of this show planned for the Sala do Veado of the Museu Nacional de História Natural da Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa (that is related, in its theme, to the Yellowstone park), 12 new untitled videos, set in a video installation, screened on TV monitors (a simulation of the expositive devices of this kind of museum). Formally, an Earth (the planet) profile is delineated as opposing the subject’s presential localisation, set at the scale of the landscape. A visual poem by the author, qualifying the Earth, completes the installation.
In the gallery, still on video now presented on plasma screen, the work 'Deserto' (2003) formally extends the same editing process, overlayering several characters and notes on the ecosystem over the deserted landscape that is presented. In the work after which the exhibition is titled, '4 passos, 7 X' (2003), 7 colour medium format photographs (produced according to the process mentioned in the title: 4 steps, 1 photograph, 7 times) reveal a 'living' lake through a performative process (the action of walking). A photo-print with the work’s title joins them.
Another installation is built after a large-size photograph, divided and set into 10 light boxes, organised as in to simulate a flower bouquet, whose cables (the ‘stems’ of the bouquet) are tied by a rag, in a direct reference to the recurring natural materials in the artist’s work. In the opposite wall, functioning both as mirror (defence) and as confrontation (antagonism), a graphical installation introduces notes written on the landscape that is presented to the spectator, confirming the author’s interest on opposites.
Following the same typology, another colour large size photograph again reveals the Park´s landscape, here accompanied by a personal reflection by the author on landscape as a biographic metaphor.
Finally, in this new series of photographs, Graça Pereira Coutinho presents one last set of 6 photographs to which she overlays the emotion of the words that are directly connected with the driving concept of the exhibition project (i. e. Anxiety, Desire, Longing).
It will also be possible to see a new series of drawings (composed by 13 boards) dating from 2003 that continues to explore the content and the process of previous exhibitions such as The Walk or Regresso a Lisboa. Thus, the drawings, mixed media on paper, produced on different scales lead once more - as one of their titles(Delicate Paths) indicates - to the performing act of walking, the transverse axis of the whole exhibition, both at the object (documental) and at the conceptual level that works as a metaphor for a walk towards redemption or as a personal narrative of the process of growth and of the construction of memory, an ephemeral act always under reconstruction.
Working as a hinge between the previous work and the new production, connecting them both in formal (material, pigment, sand and gauze) and in symbolic terms (the connection to earth, the record of the body’s passage and the mark of the gesture), the new set of drawings functions as a palimpsest of the accumulation of experience and as a breviary of the natural elements collected in the artist’s travels. Formally, that which we are allowed to observe is, one one hand, the opposition between the strict present record in its support (technical architecture drawings) and the informality/symbolism of drawing and calligraphy that are inscribed on it.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Press Release of the Exhibition
Cristina Guerra- Contemporary Art presents “Recent works”, a one man show by Matt Mullican.
Opening May 23 2003, by 10pm
May 23 to June 28 2003
“Everything I do has to do with the interpretative world. It is, really, a very constructed world. I am very interested not in what we see but in what we think we see, in how we feel what we think we see, in what it is”, said Matt Mullican (b. 1951, Santa Monica, California, USA) in an interview with Michael Tarantino (see the catalogue for the one man show at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art - MACS, 2000).
Like some of the 60s’ and 70s’ most innovating artists, Matt Mullican has chosen, as the starting point for his work, an area of research to which the traditional aesthetic criteria were clearly no longer being applied. His work has been developed in an undefined area placed between aesthetic opposite fields, between subjectivity and objectivity, between sign and meaning and, especially, between the culturally demarcated spheres of art and architecture. In this sense, his production - from performance art to digitally produced images - is, in fact, a function that connects the material sign (the significant) to ideas and facts. Mullican thus neglects the connection between signs and the exterior reality, circumscribing them to the meanings’ abstract level of sense. For him, reality is always something you perceive, a construction of the imagination, and the world is an experience alienated by symbols. Because of that, objects are, for Mullican, ideas, in a clearly conceptual perspective.
The traditional separation between idea and object is eliminated in his productions, stimulating the experience of private, intimate objects - which form the basis of all his performances, wether or not they’re conducted under hypnosis - and of public objects, revealed by digital means, produced by works with an architectural basis that permanently force the spectator to critically question his or her position towards the work and the world.
In this sense, the “Recent works” exhibition, opening May the 23rd 2003 at the Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art gallery, presents the most recent developments in the investigation of this personal ‘cosmology’, bringing together works from the past two years.
Being so, what is now being brought to exhibition is this confrontation between the interpretative and the digital worlds, between the experience (World) and the reading (information) - the relation between the representation of a space in relation to the interpretative emotion of “reading” that same space -, between the artificial logic of the mathematical codification of digital software and the reading of its data.
In this way, the two digitally produced animations - one of them being presented in a projection of minimal graphical appearance that is related to the previous one, developed around geographical charts, and the second consisting of a digital representation of a landscape presented on a loop in a plasma screen, evoking some of the previous production in the experienced relation between a character and the surrounding environment as well as in the attention to detail and in reducing the special effects, favouring its graphical and reality-mediating aspect - he brings forward the mistakes of a language of the signs in evaluating artificiality.
These two animations are directly connected with the two three-dimensional glass-made models presented as a “three-dimensional formatting” of language, the first one operating as a linguistic three-dimensional model of the projected image, and the second one working as a metaphor for a religious epiphany , introduced as an operating model for the author’s 'cosmology' by the means of conventional representation codes for space and structure.
The landscape extent of this 'cosmology' is shown in twelve light boxes that present digitally created images of landscapes, oriented towards natural concepts such as sky/water or landscape, as opposed to the artificiality of their means of support and production, showing in what way and how much our reality is mediated by interfaces and information simulations.
In another video now being presenting and dating from 2002, we see the record of one of Mullican’s performances, conducted under hypnosis (a therapeutic technique that the author has been applying to his artistic production since 1978), working for the revelation of a simulation experience and the demonstration of that same experience in a character in an altered state of conscience who is confronted with an architectural space and with the world.
Finally, some of Mullican’s graphic and pictorial production (drawing and painting) will be shown: a painting and some enlargements from his notebook as extensions of the problematics that build the axis of production within the representation of his ‘cosmology’, in here through a more basic and less technologically sophisticated media, whose constituent elements are reduced to pictorial forms that later on find their places in a holistic chart.
Besides that, in store you can see works by the artist dating from the 70s and 80s, from where much of his more recent production picks its vitality and the strength for legitimating the signification for the (highly codified by signs) mapping of a world were the individual walks. H.M.
Press Release of the Exhibition