Press Release of the Exhibition
'La Silla Del Diablo'
Nov 25th 2010 > Jan 15th 2011
Only Anthropophagy brings us together. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. The only law in the world. A masked expression of all individualisms, of all collectivisms. (….) Tupi, or not Tupi that is the question. (…) Before the Portuguese discovered Brazil, Brazil had discovered happiness. (…) Joy is the acid test .1
Oswald de Andrade, Anthropophagic Manifesto (Excerpt), 1928
The Tropical Place where the Devil sits
The images by Juan Araújo (Caracas, 1971) are a deep reflection on the painting-architecture relationship that is often expressed through the binomials of fiction/reality; the two-dimensional /three-dimensional and non-materiality /materialisation. Yet his game of associations does not end here. Araújo uses records that function as intermediaries between the two artistic forms as his working material, such as reproductions of books and digital or printed photographs, among other things, forming an archive of fundamental works from the History of Art, just like a veritable Imaginary Museum going from works by major architects (particularly South-American ones like Niemeyer, Acayaba and Barragan) to visual artists (Alejandro Otero, Geraldo de Barros, Kandinsky, Calder, among others). We may thus state that each of his works is a sort of hypertext.
Besides a reflection on the art system in its many variants, it is a meditation on reproducibility and, in the final instance, on the aspect of the simulacra and the current status of the image. In this aspect Araújo is close to Marcel Duchamp in his concept of the ready-made, but, however, he goes beyond this with re-creation in painting.
Despite the external references, at first sight the (less than cautious) observer may find an almost personal register in Araújo’s images, in an attitude like a graphic journal of places visited that have a certain “literary” resonance. This mysterious quality places him close to an almost fantastic realism in the sense of leaving the possible interpretations open, setting up doubt about what one is seeing.
Juan Araújo’s paintings are also a homage to the way that globalisation, as a universal movement, is being less of a uniforming factor than was ideally intended. His works are a song to Latin American architecture and to the way that it simply interprets that which was a truly international movement Laden with humanist Utopia: Modernism. The title of this exhibition clearly gives us some clues about this question. La Silla del Diablo [The Devil’s Seat] is a chair designed by Alexander Calder that pays homage to Carlos Villanueva, a Venezuelan architect who planned the Caracas University City in 1954, then proposing a synthesis of the arts, a Gesamtkunstwerk, convoking for this purpose artists ranging from Calder, Arp and Vasarely, among other names from the modern international art scene. This reference is a metaphor for Araújo’s work, which is also an attempt through painting to construct a total work, and is simultaneously a reflection on the failed Utopia of a modernism that invaded rural Venezuela to be used by the dictatorship of the time. Finally, this work is also the introduction of a geometric shape within a bio-diverse and apparently antagonistic natural context, bringing to the surface the specificities of the art of the South-American continent: hot, exuberant, emotive, intuitive and thus going against the rationality of the discipline of modernist and above all Western design. Nevertheless, the functional aspect of this chair is doubtful in itself, given the feeling of some discomfort or even the danger of falling, diverting attention from its desirable ergonomics to its clearly aesthetic quality or, if we wish, to its failings as a functional object.
The concept of Tropicalism might be poorly applied in Araújo’s work, but it becomes fundamental for understanding the spirit of his images. As a cultural movement that developed in Brazil, Tropicalism was a cry of revolt against outside influence, although it appropriated it. This question was clearly expressed in what Oswald Andrade called the Anthropophagic Movement, which swallowed everything that came from the culture exported by powers such as Europe and the USA and regurgitated it after it had been mixed with Brazilian popular culture and identity, which helped to define the latter as heterogeneous, diverse, mestizo and hybrid. In this movement, in the small or alter modernisms (Borriaud), the forms divulged by the supposed United States and European universality are appropriated in a particular manner by the countries that receive them and conjugates them. It is perhaps due to this factor that Araújo brings works by Kandinsky into a dialogue with Marx’s gardens, among other examples in this exhibition. The tropical and exotic side of the world thus currently stops looking at the previously colonizing countries with a lack of trust, and it is the latter who instead lose their strength and long for a renewal that might bring them life, in the same way that Araújo brings new life to architecture (or its reproduction) through painting, humanising it.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1 Andrade, Oswald de, “Piratininga Ano 374 da Deglutição do Bispo Sardinha”, Revista de Antropofagia, Ano 1, Nº. 1, May 1928.
Juan Araújo’s works are present in several different public and private collections, of note among which are the Tate Modern, London; the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art, Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago de Compostela (CGAC); Inhotim, Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Belo Horizonte; Teixeira de Freitas Collection, Lisbon; Carlos Rosón Collection, Pontevedra; Eskandar & Fátima Malekl Collection, London; and Adriana Cisneros Collection, Miami.
Press Release of the Exhibition
curated by Pedro Gadanho
Artists: Filipa César, João Paulo Feliciano, Fernando Guerra, Daniel Malhão, Edgar Martins
Oct 15 > Nov 20 2010
Interiores: notes on an exhibition
Pedro Gadanho is the author of the projects shown in the exhibition that he is curating within the scope of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial 2010, under the heading Falemos de Casas [Let’s Talk about Houses]. The photographs and videos on show confront us with the working process of four visual artists, and a photographer who specializes in architecture.
The authors and the projects: Filipa César, with the video Stereo, featuring Galeria Presença, 1998/2002; João Paulo Feliciano, on his apartment in Lisbon, 2001/2010, photographic collage; Daniel Malhão, on the Ellipse Foundation, 2006, photography; Edgar Martins on Casa GMG, 2010, photography; and Fernando Guerra, on Casa Baltasar, 2007, photography.
Interiores should be seen as an author’s conception unfurling from within. Like a spiral that has its epicentre in Pedro Gadanho’s architectural production, and its ramifications in the work of the artists and photographers that form the documented and exhibited corpus. The breadth of this project also includes the publishing of a book with a limited print run. It is important to state that Pedro Gadanho’s activity attempts to speak of an architecture beyond the projects he creates, disseminating through areas such as curating, editing and fictional writing.
Pedro Gadanho’s architecture operates on the idea of difference, intimacy and desire, without losing sight of the connection to the cultural and urban context of the spaces upon which he reflects and works. This practice of architecture, which is more closely dedicated to the entrails and inner life of secluded spaces, has existed alongside the virtuoso practice of interior decoration and the potentialities of interior design, which Gadanho knows but resists. This act of resistance exposes his thinking on the construction and the experience of place, conflating the use of the prop, or of objects created according to functional and aesthetic standards, to the creation of a system of interactions that relates the dynamic use of liveable space and its required utensils to a contamination by references from the external world which ultimately unfold from architecture, art and the everyday objects that surround us. Between a language that is erudite and one that is popular.
The interiors that are shown to us through film, photography or video are independent from the descriptions of each project’s intentions. They should be observed as openings into the process through which the authors have experienced the spaces, beyond the proximity or the truth that we seek in each image.
João Silvério, October 2010
Press Release of the Exhibition
'NEVE R O DD O R EVEN'
Sep 16th > Out 13th 2010
'Seeing is harder than it looks.'
What do the Baghdad Batteries, The Barcelona Pavilion, the Rorschach test and the Sistine Chapel all have in common? Not much, actually. Except for the fact that they all are points of departure for works featured in Christian Andersson's second solo exhibition at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art. Any common ground, however, they might share is less a result of being referenced in the same exhibition than of being deployed along a similar line of inquiry. Interested in the historical and psychological mechanisms that ensure a given object, idea or phenomenon its accepted place in space and time, Andersson has created a body of work that examines the notion of the anachronism, the revelation that invariably attends it, and its epistemic ramifications and/or hold on reality.
Of all the works in the exhibition, Paper Clip (The Baghdad Batteries), 2009, most explicitly puts all of these questions into play. Based on the discovery near Baghdad in 1936 of what is purportedly an ancient battery, the installation consists of 49 replicas of the object (clay pots), whose interior compound (copper, iron and vinegar) and combined force supposedly produce enough electricity to magnetize a paper clip to an iron rod. If this is indeed the case, the existence of the battery antedates Alessandro Volta's 1800 invention by more than a millennium. Faced with what to all intents and purposes seems to be an anachronism, the viewer is first of all bound to wonder if this is true or even possible, and secondly and consequently become the site of a minor epistemological breakdown by virtue of the struggle to assimilate such revisionist information. But is this a bona fide anachronism, i.e., a projection of the present into the past? In other words, a historical impossibility? Or does it not rather challenge the self-assured logic of linearity that undergirds the anachronism?
Perhaps it all depends on where you stand, as in another work in the exhibition Sistine Chapel (B.C.) 2009. For this literal and disfigured slice of time, the artist has created a table top out of black glass-- which, for him, represents a piece of time-- broken off the end, and placed it at folded, vault-like angle on top of the table (broken and scrambled time). A reproduction of a B.C. comic strip, which has been placed upside down in the interior of the vault, can be read in the reflection of the table only from a single angle. Not as simple as it may initially seem, the comic strip features two supine cavemen marveling at the shapes they see in the clouds, such as, apparently, The Sistine Chapel. This observation, however, is immediately followed by the revelation of its anachronistic impossibility (represented by a shared stoner-like 'Whoa!'), given that the Sistine Chapel hasn't even been built yet. The flawed logic upon which such a revelation is predicated is hard to hold in the mind, as the only thing more farfetched than these two cavestoners seeing a renaissance masterpiece from an as of yet un-conceived Western canon in a cloud is their realization of such an impossibility, of catching themselves in flagrant délit of an anachronism. Inverting the image and investing it with an anamorphic resolution, Andersson literally reflects the ideal viewing position presupposed by such wistful thinking, while again complicating its assimilation to the point of aporia.
If these works critically exaggerate the inherent instability of the anachronism, are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era (2009) highlights the dubiousness of potential revelation that generally seals the anachronistic deal. For this work, Andersson has surreptitiously inserted certain optical associations into the complex history of Mies van der Rohe's 1929 Barcelona Pavilion, which was destroyed in 1930 and rebuilt in 1986. He has taken a photographic reproduction of the onyx walls of the 1986 remake, whose symmetrical, butterfly patterns are evocative of Rorschach tests, and somehow merged the famous blots into the reproduction, which are rendered visible only for a split second every few instants with the aid of a back lit flash. Germanely, although conceived in 1927, the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach's test was not used until 1931, two years after the original pavilion was built. Andersson's semi-explicit commingling of the two investigates to what extent such a conflation is an intuitive response to its mere possibility. It's as if the generic image of the Rorschach test was so thoroughly imbedded in the collective cultural consciousness that the perception of it in patterns which antedate it is a perceptual knee-jerk reaction. Thus does the work not only explore how revelation (in this case 'assisted')-- that which is implicitly associated with incontestable truth-- become something to be doubted, but also how the past tends to dissolve into the indistinguishable soup of the present. Because time and history as such have a way of undoing themselves without our even noticing it, much like, say, the circular logic of the palindrome of the work's title are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era undoes the progressive logic of beginning and ending.
Press Release of the Exhibition
'Out of a Singularity'
Jul 8th > Sep 11th 2010
According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe started as “singularity”, about 13.7 billion years ago.
Singularities are zones that challenge today’s knowledge of physics. It is thought that exists inside the nuclei of Black Holes, in which gravitational pressure may be so intense that finite matter is compressed into infinite density. These zones of infinite density are called “singularities”. This does not mean that the Big Bang is like a Black Hole; indeed, it is seen as something completely different, as a singularity extending through all space at a single instant, while a Black Hole is seen as a singularity extending through all time at a single point.
Our Universe is supposed to have started from something infinitely small, infinitely hot and infinitely dense – as a singularity.
Following on from research into landscape and perception of the space within the field of cosmology that he had started in The Great Curve (Espaço Chiado 8, Lisbon, 2009), where he presented works in sculpture, video and installation, in Out Of A Singularity the focus of Rui Toscano’s work is centred on drawing and painting.
Rui Toscano (1970) was born in Lisbon, where he lives and works. He studied Painting and Sculpture at AR.CO (Centre for Art and Communication) and at the FBAUL (University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts). He has presented his work in galleries, museums and alternative spaces since 1993, in exhibitions such as Take Off, Galerie Krinzinger, Benger Fabrik, Bregenz, Austria (1997), 1, MACS (Serralves Contemporary Art Museum), Oporto, Portugal (2002) and Metaflux, 9. International Architecture Biennial, Arsenale, Venice, Italy (2004).
His work is represented in several public collections as Fundação de Serralves, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, FLAD (Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento), António Cachola, Madeira Corporate Services, PLMJ, Portugal Telecom, Fundación ARCO (Spain), Fundación Coca-Cola (Spain), MEIAC (Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporneo, Spain) and also in numerous private collections between Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland and USA.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Jun 1st > Jul 3rd 2010
Sabine Hornig’s creative work focuses on the relationship between reality and reproduction, which she communicates using concepts such as image, space and architecture. She reproduces architectural elements, removing them from their context and placing them in the exhibition space. She sometimes incorporates large-format photos that depict identical parts of buildings. Her photographs show windows that reflect whatever is opposite them. Their large formats and precise realization result in the photographs turning into “windows” on the gallery wall themselves.
On an abstract level, these elements correspond to a problem of continuing relevance today. Since the Renaissance, the depiction of the window has been the metaphor for our perception of central perspective. The necessary questioning of this convention is a traditional task of art. Sabine Hornig examines the issue in an extremely disciplined way. While her “sculptures with photography” – probably a safe term for most of her works – define their own space in relation to the viewer, their interlacing and mirroring calls into question conventional notions of space. Their dimensions are always human and yet authoritative as well. The works’ proportions require that they be taken seriously, but never overwhelm the spectator. In the best sense of the word, they provide a counterpart. However, this counterpart acts like a boundary. Both the photographs and the sculptural elements refuse to let the viewer in and thereby call into question the vantage point: Where is the observer – opposite the image or even in it? What images confront the viewer, and how is reality constructed within them? Sabine Hornig poses such important questions with considerable cleverness.
Instead of a didactic approach, she offers powerful and convincing material beauty.
Thomas Eller on Sabine Hornig in Artnet, 2008
The fascination for the shop front is a symptom of a growing economy and of a concern for visibility, that comes with modernity. In her series of windows Hornig tells us of this sort of voyeurism avid for novelty that finds something in the transition process but not a finished product, placing the viewer in a state of reflection. In a certain manner this is an emptying of modernity, a criticism of its initial utopias in both political systems east and west simultaneously.
The fact that these images are presented as still lifes proves this. Any still life is a symbol of a meaningless vanitas, of a sin of lust, and is expressed in elements such as the skull and the mirror, both symbolizing death and vanity, but especially impermanence. An example of this question is the allusion to Berlin, a symbol of the whole process of destruction and later reconstruction, a dystopia that emerges from a political and economic utopia the disappearance of which may even so seem promising. In a time of economic recession, these empty spaces may be the beginning of something and not the end.
In Hornig's work there is a fascination by this power of illusion, which has been present in the plastic arts since the beginning. Due to this capacity to replace the world of essences by appearance, Plato condemned all forms of plastic and visual arts, relegating them all to the world of the simulacrum. The copy, as Benjamin states, makes the
work of art lose its aura.
In Hornig, through the use of trompe l´oeil and through the game of perception played with the spectator, we see that the capacity for illusion, unlike the difficult past that condemned it, is indeed a profound essence of all art, and that the copy is a form of granting new life to the existing world. Indeed, Art does not come from something that has no origin; rather it reinvents the world that surrounds us.
Like an illusionist, Hornig is also a player who weaves ironic comments on the scales, on sculpture, on the dysfunctional functionality of spaces and, above all, plays with the spectator’s perception. She plays with the illusion of the interior/exterior, solid/ephemeral, transparent/opaque dichotomies, among others. The opaque and the transparent, in the sense that here the illusion of transparency is an analogy for the fact that despite our living in a world of the everything seen (as exemplified by Foucault in the panoptic system or Lipovetsky in his study on the culture of the screen), we can never really know the totality of the world. However, instead of that vain promise that cannot be fulfilled, we may get to know an infinite world of possibilities. Inspired by the pictorial tradition of the XVII century, Hornig’s attempt to counter the single perspective inherited from the Renaissance, of which the window is a metaphor, has to do with this fact.
In her works there are multiple perspectives of the gaze, infinite possibilities of reconstruction. This is the origin of the meaning of her abstraction, the offer of a multiple terrain of interpretations that enrich and complexify her work. In order to understand it there is a whole process of mobility of the gaze that demands a suspension of disbelief, as Coleridge states. The magic of the virtual plane that she presents us with is that the image and time are in a single moment , here and now, explaining the inspiration for the title of the exhibition.
Just then, just in this one moment, collapsing time and space in an art that is simultaneously current and anachronistic.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Apr 27th > Mai 22nd 2010
“Luísa was wearing a blue woollen dress, wich dragged a little, gratting a melodious undulation to her steps, and her little hands were hidden in a white muffler. (...) They took a few steps outside in the street. A broad sun cast light over the happy genius: the carriages passed by, giving out the cracks of whips: smilling figures went by, in conversation: the street vendors hailed their happy cries: a gentleman in buckskin trousers trotted his rosette-adorned horse; and the street was full, noisy, alive happy and covered in sun.”1
Peculiarities of a Girl Called Painting
Despite the title of this text, anyone expecting to find any narrative other than that of painting itself in José Loureiro’s works will be disappointed. If there is any story here it comes from the vocabulary proper to pictorial language, being woven among circles, squares, lines and rectangles. Programmes of intent, projects and little stories have never been a part of Loureiro’s desire or thought. This exhibition is no exception.
The Bullfinch (Priolo) that provides the title for one of his paintings (something which is rare in Loureiro’s work) is not a reference to the Azores Bullfinch, an endangered species that exists on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. We might think about a vague association with the ideia of painting being itself almost extinct. But if we do so we will be increasingly further away from the truth of the facts. Here the painting is of today and could not be more alive and in keeping with that we call contemporary.
The Azores Bullfinch is a being that is characterized by being known from afar due to is characteristic song. Once again, we can only vaguely associate this with these paintings. José Loureiro’s works possess the strenght of a special vibration that makes us move away and then close in on them, being easily recognised at a distance, and with some meaning being granted to their association with music. His canvases have the character of a vibration screen that wishes to annul the separation that exists between pictorial representation and reality itself, which is shown through the diffuse aspect of the outlines. An invasion of life on the canvas and of the canvas on life, also showing that rigidity might be something light and airy. So things become ghosts within the form itself. This idea of the screen, something which has been a concern of Gilles Lipovetsky’s in order to characterise current society, is not new in Loureiro. Since the nineties many of his series of paintings have directly referred to screens, printings, projections, reproduction and digital effects.
The shimmering quality of the level of the canvas also brings a different type of associations with it. It calls up the new technologies, such as those on the TV screen, or, as in the work Priolo, vaguely a fluorescent lamp. In this sense José Loureiro’s painting lives of a search for tensions, in which the most visible and irreducible one would be that between surface and depth. His work, like life, lives off these oppositions.
The untitled canvases present at this exhibition have another vague similarity with the bullfinch that has a strong, black beak and grey body and black tail. José Loureiro’s rectangles also deal with black and grey. Yet the issue of colours is only a game fitting the dynamics of pictorial representation. The intention should always be that of diverting the
event of the canvas from being boringly predictable, as if the painting were a living organism with which the painter establishes a dialogue, in an endless (and often useless) struggle towards control over the strenght of the sensation contained in the canvas. This obsessive research into the same motif, in a candence of repetition and difference, is a part of the essential nature of painting, of its mania . But then again it is part of l i fe as well.
As a conclusion, the only narrative that the observer may find is that which we quote at the beginning of this text. All the rest lives off this lack of a referential anchoring. Even so, José Loureiro shows us, through the force of the feeling of the forms of a World of the Nohing Freed (as José Gil states in relation to Malevich), allowing each of us to place all our free interpretations within it. Perhaps this is the contemplative freedom that is truly endangered, in a world of messages that communicate and command our thoughts. So we should do what ornithologists do, and devote ourselves to long, lengthy contemplations of the species, enjoying the pleasure of the peculiarities of a history that belongs to life in its most essential sense, in the purity of its economy of means.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1Translated from Singularidades de Uma Rapariga Loura in Obras de Eça de Queiróz - Contos, 20th edition, Livros do Brasil, Lisbon, undated - pp. 30/34.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Mar 18th > Apr 17th 2010
“In the triangle formed by the author, the work and the public, the latter is not in any way a passive element which would only have a chain reaction, but rather a source of energy that contributes towards making the story itself. The life of the work in history cannot be considered without the participation of those to whom it is aimed”. 1
Hans Robert Jauss
Given the objectivity of Lawrence Weiner’s work, it becomes redundant to reflect upon anything beyond that which is presented to us. In a certain manner this artist has left us longing for to a “light at the end of the tunnel”, something that might help to settle his work within a fixed, easily understandable category.
However, all of the efforts undertaken lead further and further from the truth, that his works possess. Lawrence Weiner is absolutely simple in his purposes and in his procedures. Trying to complexify his work takes it away from its aim as Art.
In fact, the works he carries out, in a clear concern for materiality, are veritable sculptures in the sense of being objects ready to undergo the processes inherent to any artistic performing. And it is hoped that they will be seen in this way: as materials set out as open to free reception.
And it is the reception of the work, rather than its production, that will concern us here. As the critic, as Jauss states, is necessarily a reader before being able to locate or understand the work, or to fundament his own judgement on awareness of its situation. Thus this text will not deal with the artist’s modus operandi (which in fact does not exist) or the formal analysis of the work of art, but instead revolves around an element that is almost always set to one side but the leading role of which is of great importance to us. We are speaking about the spectator, and as this is a matter of works using words, about the reader2.
In Weiner it is not a matter of using metaphors or phrases that intend to create ambiguities, multiple meanings or complex hermetic interpretations, but of demonstrating, through the permeability of language as a medium, how each work of art is the fruit of enormous freedom. Both for the person who produces it and the person who receives it.
The work thus has access to existence through the act of interpreting, indifferent to the author’s intentions but focused on its receiver’s expectations and adaptations. The traditional aesthetics of production and representation is replaced by (or rather fused into) an aesthetics of reception and effects.
This is the importance of translation in Weiner’s trajectory: making the texts he uses more understandable and accessible, but also recontextualising them in the right setting and in the concrete conditions of their reception. Just as any translation is betrayal, any adaptation is poignant.
His work is formed within the perspective of a veritable dialectic: of the work with culture, of the author with the work, of the author with culture, of the work with its receiver, of the author with its receiver, of the receiver with culture, in a more open and infinite interaction of questions and answers. It is this dialogue that states the relationship of art in its broadest sense and life itself.
The social dimension that reinforces the importance of the receiver’s experience is that which states the way that the work intervenes on the expectation horizon of our everyday lives, guiding or modifying our view of the world. This is perhaps a mission that is too demagogical for Art, but through this conclusion we can state that without doubt, like the text itself, the opening and virtual nature of his works, in their interactive and performing dimensions, cause some kind of transformation in the person who receives it. This is the wonder of any experience around a reading: when the text stops having a practical function, now opening up to its more reflective dimension, leaving its public perplexed, and showing that, in Art, the process of perception is an end in itself.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1Jauss, Hans Robert, Literaturgeschichte als Provokation (no translation into English available)
2The importance of this in the works of Weiner was always acknowledged by him from the beginning of his sort of manifesto (we prefer declaration of intent) dated 1968:
1. THE ARTIST MAY CONSTRUCT THE PIECE
2. THE PIECE MAY BE FABRICATED
3. THE PIECE NEED NOT TO BE BUILT
EACH BEING EQUAL AND CONSISTENT WITH THE INTENT OF THE ARTIST THE DECISION AS TO CONDITION RESTS WITH THE RECEIVER UPON THE OCCASION OF RECEIVERSHIP
Press Release of the Exhibition
PROJECT PERFORMANCE: PERPETUAL INTERVIEW
curated by Ricardo Nicolau
Artists: Pierre Leguillon, Falke Pisano, Mariana Silva, Von Calhau, Michele di Menna.
Mar 8th > 13th 2010
The Cristina Guerra Gallery is presenting Perpetual Interview, a programme of performances, performance-conferences, readings, concerts and radio broadcasts. As well as presenting the performing work of a series of international artists in Portugal for the first time, the programme acknowledges the growing importance of voice in the so-called virtual arts, along with artists’ interest in exploring more or less obsolete supports such as radio.
Voices everywhere! The ease with which, through using contemporary Technologies, we can today manage to record and reproduce speeches, conferences, statements and interviews has led some people to state that we are nowadays living within a sort of “infinite conference”. The fact is that artists are increasingly turning to language, particularly spoken and written language, which is often recorded. One of the explanations for the recurring of discursive activity is the fact that they are interested in exploring mediums for transmitting information that diverge from more and more standardised educational models – or in exploring and diffusing a type of knowledge that cannot even be described as information. Some defend the spoken discourse, conversation as an artistic support that is as legitimate, for example, as sculpture, painting film or video. It is not by chance that a great deal has been written of late about the “art of conversation”.
Perpetual Interview – a name requested as a loan from a project by the Portuguese artist Ana Jotta (Lisbon, 1946) in which she interviews herself – is a programme of performance-conferences, readings, concerts and radio shows that acknowledges the increasing interest shown by visual artists in language, in words, and in the voice – an interest often shown in works that explore the conference format, convoke the theatre and explore the potential of the radio. From the 8th to the 13th of March, the Cristina Guerra Gallery (Lisbon) is receiving a series of artists who have been exploring spoken and written language, and who will be presenting a series of eminently performing projects over these six days in the gallery. The artists, in works ranging from public readings to conferences and to performances, including readings and concerts, use different linguistic strategies, confronting us with the capacity of sound and the Word in order to produce space, shake the notion of the spectator, re-think the history of art – namely of modernism and abstraction – and make concepts of information and knowledge vacillate.
It is a symptomatic fact that this project is being prolonged on the radio. Although these artists’ interest in radio is not a recent thing, the works they have been making for this medium have never been particularly recognised within their respective careers. This situation has been getting turned round, and there is an increasing number of artists using the radio’s potential through sound works, conference or theatre readings and radio performances.
Rádio Zero (Lisbon), a partner in this initiative, will be broadcasting works specifically conceived by the artists for radio during the week of the exhibition (between 12 noon and 1 pm) and on the last day, Saturday 13th, it will be broadcasting a concert/performance by Von Calhau directly from the Cristina Guerra Gallery (from 5 pm onwards).
About the Artists:
Falke Pisano was born in Amsterdam in 1978. Of note among her recent exhibitions are: “Modern Modern” CAM: Chelsea Art Museum, New York), “Modernologies” (MACBA, Barcelona) and “Making Worlds” (Venice Biennial) all from 2009. Among her most recent conferences/performances are: “Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours” (5th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, 2008), “Evas Arche und der Feminist” (Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, 2008), “A Sculpture turning into a Conversation” (Béton Salon, Paris, 2008) and “Affecting Abstraction #3” (Lisson Gallery, London, 2007). Falke Pisano has been dealing with the legacy of modernism. Her research into notions of modernism and on iconic or, to the contrary, almost unknown examples of modernist buildings and abstract sculptures have often led to performance-conferences.
Mariana Silva was born in Lisbon in 1983. Lives and works in New York. Since 2004 she has participated in several group exhibitions, namely “República ou o Teatro do Povo” (Arte Contempo, Lisbon, 2009), “BesRevelação 2008” (Serralves Museum, Oporto, 2008) “Eurásia” (Anastácio Gonçalves Museum House, Lisbon, 2008), “Antes que a produção cesse” (Espaço Avenida, Lisbon, 2007), “Art Meeting 2006” and “Rundgang” (Universität der Künste, Berlin, 2006 and 2007, respectively). In 2009, the o-declive collective, of which she is a member, organised a cycle of exhibitions in Lisbon untitled Estados-Gerais, presenting, in three group exhibitions and one solo exhibition, works by several Portuguese and international artists. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the iscp (International Studio & Curatorial Program), New York. Within the scope of this residence, Mariana Silva has set about researching into particularly troublesome moments (which led to protests, stampings and riots) in the reactions by spectators in relation to determined works (theatre, musicals) throughout the XX century,.
Michele di Menna was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1980. She lives and works in Frankfurt. Of note among her latest solo exhibitions are: “SMS” (MARTa Herford, Herford, 2009), “Society for Actually Happening Art: A Rise and Fall Performed by Hands” (White Heat, Stuttgart, 2009), “Where Everything is Crumbling” (Galerie Kamm, Berlin, 2008), “Because I Must”, Center, Berlin, 2008) and “These Eels Are Electric” (Galerie Ritter & Staiff, Frankfurt, 2006). Among her latest group exhibitions are: “The Great Transformation, Art and Tactical Magic” (MARCO de Vigo and Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2008), “Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie” (Arnolfini, Bristol, 2009), “The Perpetual Dialogue” (Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, 2009) and “At Home” (Die Fuge, Berlin, 2010). Her performances have been presented in several different countries. Of note are: “A Rise and Fall performed By Hands” (Every Letter in the Alphabet, 2010) and “Performed Rigorous Lines Framed in Cool-Toned Symmetry” (IMO, Copenhagen, 2009). Michele di Menna’s performing projects have led her to be described as the “Yvonne Rainer for the Nu-Rave generation”, and her work as a perfect mixture between the Fluxus movement and the film Flashdance.
Pierre Leguillon is a French artist and curator. Since the early nineties he has at the same time been an artist, curator and art critic. He created the magazine Sommaire (35 issues between 1991 and 1996) and was a collaborator on the magazines Journal des Arts, Art Press and Purple. He has also devoted himself to performance and to performance-conferences – for example, the slideshows in which he shows images of exhibitions he has photographed over the years are very well known. Of note among his latest exhibitions are: “Diane Arbus: a printed retrospective (1960-1971)”, presented at the Kadist Art Foundation (Paris), in 2008-09, where he presents a very significant part (about 85%) of the pictures published in magazines by the photographer Diane Arbus – an important body of work that was particularly neglected by the history of photography.
Von Calhau is the name of a duo of artists made up of Marta Ângela and João Alves. Their work, which is difficult to categorise, includes religion, trance, psychedelics and rurality, and is made into 16mm film projections, performance and concerts. Since 2006 it has been presented in places such as the Galeria ZDB (Lisbon, 2009) or the Uma Certa Falta de Coerência (Oporto, 2009). This duo, perhaps because of their condition as a duo, presents on the Internet that which is, more than being a blog, is an artistic project in its own right (www.eistenvoncalhau.com), and in which they have tried out exploring language games that might bear an idea of symmetry, such as anagrams, palindromes and anacyclical lines.
Partner: Rádio Zero
Press Release of the Exhibition
'A ROLL OF THE DICE'
curated by David Barro
Artists: Tatjana Doll, Filipa César, Sabine Hornig, João Onofre, João Louro, Rui Toscano, John Baldessari, Angela Bulloch, Matt Mullican, Julião Sarmento, Lawrence Weiner.
Jan 21 > Mar 4 2010
The idea of this exhibition arises from a “suspended moment”: the instant that comes before the roll of the dice, before they touch the ground. As if we could stop the clock at that precise moment and everything unexpectedly stopped at a certain moment. At a moment of maximum tension we are forced to stretch out time like in suspense in the movies. The importance of the gaze, of observation and perception thus stands out, turning the spectator into a sort of chess player moments before moving his piece.
As Stéphane Mallarmé magically wrote: “All thought implies a casting of the dice”. It is true that knowledge is born out of awareness of the incomplete, of a state of parenthesis. Yet he also stated that “no rolling of dice can avoid bad luck”, and in that sense we have concluded that it cannot avoid any thought. It is therefore a question of carrying on playing, thinking, inventing and creating. Expanding and concluding the work already begun by the artists, in this case with works that despite capturing images remain in a state of fracture, in an interstitial space. The spectator should give meaning to the act of reading as penetration. What matters is not so much the ontology of the secret as rhetorical force, but rather their capacity of persuasion.
In Julião Sarmento’s work we see a sort of coitus interruptus that leads us into a world without absolute certainties. Sarmento decomposes the order of the text, working on language as a mis-encounter, as a penetration into the unspeakable. We thus come across a series of drawings that correspond to the origin of the series Dirt. After the initial drawing, Sarmento makes a copy to then later silkscreen it onto a canvas, so that, when we see it, it does not correspond to an abstract reality but to a hyperrealist one. Now these works are shown on squared paper, emphasizing that game between reality and fiction, given that the artist points out that one of the virtual truths of the drawings is false, but without telling us which one.
As in the whole of the exhibition, there is the proposing of an expanded narrative, a writing that might penetrate the darkness. Something like what Barthes noted about Mallarmé’s poetics, which consisted of suppressing the author in favour of the writing (returning the place to the reader). More that talking of contemplation, we are talking about attention, about going beyond the suspension of the experience of the gaze. Like in the works by Filipa César and Sabine Hornig, the image leaves us with a desire to enter it. In the photographic series Raccord, Filipa César places the spectator on the film sets in the centre of Berlin, revealing everything that stops us reaching the image. In the case of Sabine Hornig it is the virtual nature of the reflections that unties distances, standing as a sort of formal impossibility.
Then I think of Beckett’s words: “The expression that there is nothing to Express, nothing to express it with, nothing for it to express, not being able to express it, not wanting to express it, also with the obligation to express”. Like in many conversations, most communication is just this, silence. It was here that Beckett surely took his inspiration when he created the character of Buster Keaton as the protagonist of Film, seeking to double himself into someone who made silence his language. Everything fits together with the intention not of stating, but of showing. When words become a meaningless murmur there is the elimination of presence, of the referent. Or when the image is made blind, like in João Onofre’s drawings or in João Louro’s images, drowned in their own invention in a game of gazes and impossible questions, visible more than ever in Blind Image # 27. Like a language that speaks for itself, contorting itself until the image is decoded.
Another impossible gaze is John Baldessari’s proposal in Raised Eyebrows/ Furrowed Foreheads.: Two Cannons, which shows cannons as if they were binoculars in his habitual visual game of the juxtaposition and confrontation of images. Like in The Great Curve by Rui Toscano, we are talking about unexplored contexts and man’s capacity to imagine. He puts a sort of telescope on a tripod, through which we can see a straight line that paradoxically refers to a curved space. The speculative thus gains protagonism, and observation becomes aware of its limits, as takes place in the works of Filipa César, Sabine Horning, João Onofre and João Louro. One can also use the term speculative to refer to the work Night Sky: Alioth 4, by Angela Bulloch, which represents a night sky in its game of lights, speaking to us of the non-existence of a single point of view at the time of observing the universe; or the images that are constructed in a virtually unconscious manner, like automatic writing with infinite combinations, as in the case of Matt Mullican.
The image of reality is no more than the reality of that image itself. Like when Godard was rejected for putting a lot of blood in one of his films, and cleverly responded that it wasn’t blood, but tomato sauce. Everything is a game, and this game of dice proposed to the spectators by the artists is never a game of solitaire.
As if completing a puzzle, George Perec reminds us that each gesture made by the player was previously carried out by its creator. Each play, each intention, have been decided, calculated or at least studied by someone else. The rest is not so if it does not start from the magic of the fragment, and, perhaps like Houdini, we feel something more than curiosity for the mutilation. We are thus accomplices to the secrets that the artist has to reveal on our path to the unknown, to the impossible.
This exercise of shock, of suspended observation, happens throughout the whole of the exhibition A Roll of the Dice. Even at its end: two cameras painted by Tatjana Doll point straight at the spectator, who is caught by them and discovers that he has been so since the beginning of his course throughout it. A spectator caught in a space that, however, is more open than ever. This is stated lucidly by Lawrence Weiner in the work he presents on this occasion: “The die is cast”. It is true that if the die is cast, leaving perception in suspension, the destiny of the same image is different for each spectator.
David Barro, 2010