Dispersion in twelve fragments
1st Fragment: The exhibition and the poem
There are many types of exhibitions and their diversity is growing. There are monographic and trendy exhibitions, some are centred in a specific epoch, other deal with a specific type of object, and some other try to illustrate a theme or propose a new way of seeing a subject, concept, idea, ideology, etc. The enumeration of examples would be exhaustingly interminable. In fact, there are as many ways of displaying and classifying objects, as there are undeterminable ways of approaching them, either because of their intrinsic or their extrinsic characteristics. The discourse possibilities are infinite: shape, colour, author, dimension, substance, function, owner, etc. As underlined by Nelson Goodmano the universe of the analogy is so huge that any approach is, if not interesting, at least possible. However, even more important than this classification process, an exhibition can contribute for the construction of a moment’s image. From this point of view, an exhibition is an identity device. Although it is also a presentation mechanism, it is not possible to control in a definite way understandings or experiences, which as a message vehicle, an exhibition can transmit or provide. There are different communicative forces involved and the experimental universe is pluridimensional. A kind of triple code that involves intentions, possibilities and expectations is played by the author of the work, by the curator and by the visitor in the multiple possibilities of understanding and/ or intervention. The harmony or conflict that arises from this relationship, almost always produces results, some more interesting than other, but anyway, results.
The suggested idea for this exhibition was the reading of the poem Dispersion by Mário de Sá-Carneiro in twelve parts. Eighteen projects of about eleven artists have been selected, among installation, video-installation, drawing, sound and photography. Despite the thematic constrains, the diversity and the multiplicity of conceived meanings was enormous. Mário de Sá Carneiro was a poet of the perpetual, conscientious dissatisfaction of his own imperfection. He is one of the biggest interpreters of the modern melancholy. The poem discloses different thematic cores which articulate themselves, constructing a complex code of meanings that allows delineating a thematic drama where the concepts of death, love and homesickness predominate. Within this dramatic web peculiar connections are established. Sometimes death opposes dispersion and sometimes intensifies it; love functions as metonymic of dispersion, and homesickness appears as reminiscence. Concepts as the antithetic whirl between the spraying and the plurality of the being become materialized in a language that sometimes reaches a suicidal exhaustion, a deliberate drama – in Sá-Carneiro’s words.
Word by word, we observe the construction of a Babel Tower that only in the dispersion seems to find its condition of fullness. Chaos, flight, liberation, search, freezing or denunciation of a nihilist and resigning anguish, or even a lethargy or death desire seem to be the only contradictorily safe contexts, the only places of permissive exile for a possible existence. Among others aspects, these were the basis of the selected artists’ choices.
The tragic dimension that involves the permanent dialectics between destruction and creation is probably one of the dominant aspects in the chosen projects. In the modern creative destruction and creation became participant elements of the same movement. Though contradictory, they are interdependent exercises. There isn’t creation without destruction. Recently Alain Badiou characterized the XX century as the period which had the capacity to combine the reason of the destruction with the reason of formalization. If in Sá-Carneiro’s poem this destruction seems eminent, we also sense an utopian and confident desire in reorganization. The history of art has made its way retrospectively between the instauration of modernity and the failure of the surface. In this perspective, the traditional relations between surface and depth, background and shape, sense and nonsense have been destroyed. There have been multiple implications of this movement. The rupture of the previous unit led to even more radical experimentations: fragmentation of shape, dematerialization of the work, dialectics of construction and deconstruction, explosion of the unit into diversity, the invention of installation as an artistic form, etc. As far as representation or creation of meaning are concerned, the traditional image, as well as all the value systems, symbolic or aesthetic, have been questioned by modalities of very diverse nature.
2nd Fragment: "Reminiscences of Place / Disturb me in nostalgia..."
Fictitious memories of real crossroads of Ana Guedes are the miniature materialization of psychological fragments, gestures in synthesis, a species of Dedalus between fictitious and real memories. They are the fragments of the memory one wants to preserve even though they didn’t have real existence, or that one does not want to forget, especially when they carry us to spaces of happiness, becoming therefore something to perpetuate. In these registers, the distortions of space and/or emotive scale are enormous. The intensity of the experience is stressed by the fragmentation, and not the opposite. The fact that we can collect these glass objects, and the way they have been displayed in a carefully choreographed space, gives to these universes a dimension of emotive register-synthesis, which allows the most varied narrative constructions.
3rd Fragment: "And I do not possess even when I entwine."
The installation Acercado of André Alves is made of different elements that aim to construct what the artist called situation - moment of drama or romance that excites interest - which explores the concept of ownership and freedom of people and objects involving the notions of affect and love, present in Sá-Carneiro’s poetry. According to the artist, Acercado underlines the way we deal with the situation of being surrounded or imprisoned and stresses the condition of ownership of a condition – the fence of someone . Therefore, to resist the fence is to jump over it; to become free from the ownership is to cleave the solid severity of the objects, writes the artist.
4th Fragment: “Travelling other meanings, other lives”
Honey is the character of the photographic series Just Honey's Calendar and, simultaneously, an alter-ego of Carla Capela. The fictitious daily life of this kind of PinUp/Urban Rebel was choreographed in twelve photographs, a kind of twelve alternative universes. An attentive look to the details, to the objects and to the music that we can almost listen, discloses a process of falling in love between the artist and the imaginary that one associates with the 50s and 60s. The border line between the reality and the fictional universe will be erased in opening day with the performance of DJ Just Honey.
5th Fragment: "And today, when I feel myself, / I miss myself"
Cátia Oliveira presents two projects, one of photography - Dispersed Home sicknesses - and another one of drawing - The Dispersion - where the linguistic devices of Sá-Carneiro’s poem were appropriated and explored in two distinct ways. The case of photography, on the one hand, the writing materializes an obstinate refusal of the discursive linearity of the poem. The word occupies a space, it becomes an entity. The drawing, on the other hand, assumes the condition of a palimpsest which occurs between the legibility and the illegibility of the writing. The overlapping and inversion defunctionalize the calligraphy suggesting what Alberto Pimenta considers the passage from a poetological to a poetographic system, that is to say, even preserving the signs, the theoretical language is destroyed by the installation of a body language. More than suggesting a semantic understanding, an aesthetic appreciation is suggested. We are facing an inexact dialectics between an image which is invaded by the language or of an image which is deducted from the text. It is by conjugating both that the stage of memory is produced. Language itself generates images, not in the metaphoric sense, but as the form language acquires in itself. The two territories cross themselves, merge, one replaces the other. One constructs, destroys, insinuates and deconstructs in words and in simulacrums.
6th Fragment: "Crazy of sphinxes the horizon burns, / But I am unharmed between flashes and edges..."
In the two installation-events suggested by Hélder Folgado destruction really integrates the creative process. The starting point was the concept of interval and to explore this dimension the artist chose the wax candle, an object that after being activated implies a definitive temporal existence. In dispersed Intervals he questions the pictorial space and its physical limits through four rectangular frames, which hang on the walls of the architectural space, in gradual intervals. The objective was to circumscribe an "apparent" pictorial space. The artist describes that inside these spaces cohabit and interact two straight line segments in combustion leaning on the plan of the wall. The marks of the fire, the presence of the frames without the expected traditional content, and also the shape repetition, which is also a characteristic of the other installation, create a poetical analogy to despair, to the self-destruction search, and to the labyrinth flight that Sá-Carneiro’s poem so deeply conveys. This self-destruction acquires a universal dimension in the happening Coluna-Vertebral (backbone) that will take place in the opening day.
7th Fragment: "Of the light that lightens me, I participate; / I want to gather myself and I scatter myself"
Exploring the principle of the adaptability to the exhibition space, Form in transit of Inês Osório de Castro is, in fact, a work-in-progress, as the understanding we can have of it will always depend on the place and the way as it will be installed. Composed by hundreds of rubber bands connected between themselves by metallic rings, this installation draws in the space a lying body between one of the light bulbs of the ceiling and the floor of the building. A sculpture-poem is presented as a metaphor of the interaction woven in a cloth of nets, an analogy to the reciprocal dependence of the parts to the whole - the whole, understood here as social plot. With it, the artist intends to question the being - transparent, communicating, sensitive, a closed in itself unit - and the concepts of representation, adaptability and mutation of the drawing. In the descriptive memory of the project, Inês Castro justifies the presence of rocks in the interior of the elastic structure by saying: "an interior dichotomy between dream and reality, between the illusion of being and having in permanent destruction is represented here by the rocks. Being a construction element (construction of the self, the identity search), the rock is brought to the centre of the work, materializing the ambition and dreams of the poet (dichotomy between construction / deconstruction)".
8th Fragment: "It is to leave fearless against the mountain"
In the two installations presented by Manuel Horta - Deskscan and Pass-mountains – there is a common subject – the challenge towards the mismanaged occupation of the current society by processes of surveillance, mechanical reproduction and unauthorized broadcasting of images and the need to keep alive a resistance towards this avalanche, the need of questioning this pacific acceptance. In the base of this confrontation are the eco-social unbalance, the sustainable and resistant relationship between man and machine or, rather, between man and technology.
9th Fragment: "A false cemetery without skeletons"
The provocation desire was not the only principle which gave origin to the warlike manifest of Marinetti "(...) La Guerre? MAIS OUI (...) Notre Seul espoir, notre raison of vivre et notre seule volonté (...)". Marinetti found in the warlike destruction a source of progress. It was necessary to destroy the past to build the present. This was the only possible way for a radical transformation of society. Mário Victória’s graphic project reflects the need of this permanent questioning of the reality. The destruction of the individual by the representation of a inhuman and metamorphosed man machine or animal in a desperate fight against the adversities, however doomed, without any further chance, to a tragic end, as fatidic as Sá-Carneiro’s. The drawing is the questioning space, the restless critic to, and about History. Under the apparent heroic representation of the soldier, as glorious image of violence, hides the vision of a stubborn man, fragmented and self-destroyer. This grotesque and caricature like dimension acquires features of a tragic-comic parody through the playing dolls which inhabit these drawings.
10th Fragment: "My soul is lowered, my senses are bled"
On May 23rd the performance Auto-Pré-Luto (Act-pre-mourning) by Patrícia Oliveira took place in the area of the AA of the FBAUP . What is now being presented in Cerveira are the photographs taken in partnership with the Polish artist Katarzyna Julia Lawrynowicz, who registered the process and the installation-video that integrates the objects used during the performance. The video was produced in contribution with César Castelo. As an attempt of reintegration of the work in the daily life, Patricia Oliveira symbolically choreographed and prepared with extreme detail all the stages of a ritual passage from the feminine condition of a being becoming other, where body and spirit adhere to a new dimension of sacrifice. All the processes were taken to the extreme of the physical and psychological experience - all the hairs of the body have been shaved - and this experience reveals and confronts life and death; body and spirit, freedom and subjection. Suffering, sacrifice, conscientious indifference between death and life are worked as integrant elements of the daily routine and not as punishment tools. During the performance, the ritual gives place to an open theatre and the shock should not be searched for in the skin of the images, rather in the spaces between them.
11th Fragment: "The colour is not colour anymore - it is sound and aroma"
According to the artist, Sticker's Poem 12 Moments in a Poem of Paula Neves tries to translate the alienation towards the current reality and appeals to the sensuality of the word and of the colour. Gold and red are some of the word-concepts that more often occur in Sá-Carneiro’s poem, thus allowing the artist to establish analogies with the concepts of eroticism, luxury, sensuality, prohibition, marginality and trespass. They translate, in its complex relation, the sensorial universe in search of other reality. Through 12 distinct signals the installation creates a new emotive-appearance-conceptual association of the word, establishing a virtual linking between the modernity of Sá-Carneiro and the contemporaneous world. The immediate meanings are suspended, and the words/signs assume themselves as meaningful in a territory that allows a free association of meaning.
12th Fragment: "I sense a big interval"
Trying to invalidate the narrative principle structurally linked to the sequential image projection, Tiago Cruz stresses the project Pumm! - Onomatopeia II (Pumm! - Onomatopoeic II) subverting this principle and imposing a confrontation between the physical discontinuity of the image - placing the development of the narrative in the absence or in the interruption of the visual flow - and in the inexistence of direct connection, though expected, between image and sonorous discourse. Two synchronized images, two simultaneous times, the same action and an autonomous sound, desynchronised. The disconnectedness between vision and hearing is perceivable and acts in a disruptive way. It is the task of the spectator to unify the different fragments and to construct a parallel narrative.
Ana Luísa Barão
Coimbra, 28th April 2008