The skin shapes our bodies, creates our image and gives us an identity. The skin is what constitutes ourselves as individuals. When we think of a body, we explicitly imagine its epidermal surface. As the monk William of Baskerville exclaims in the novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: Mankind would shudder at the sight of a body if they could see what is beneath the skin. Skin has the power to shape our physique and identity, yet it furthermore encapsulates physical sensations that are often beyond our control: pain, irritation, shudders, heat sensitivity and erotic pleasure. The epidermal surface withholds the most archaic and animal-like sensations to humankind. Hapticality has the ability to amalgamate human and non-human agents.
The two adjectives used in the title of the exhibition to describe “the plane” – “tangible and infinite” – seem to express a certain contrast, a slight contradiction. If tangible is something that can be touched, physically perceived but also conceptually understood, infinite is rather elusive, always transcends rigid definitions, and cannot be reached nor grasped in its extent. These two dimensions coexist in Sara Chang Yan’s drawings, in which the plane is not just the background on which lines, shapes, colours and signs settle, but it acts as a magnetic field that responds and actively participates in the composition.
Leave the gallery and you will arrive at a rhetorical junction, or is Rua Nelson de Barros intersecting Rua Madre Deus? Head down the street, walk past the museum, turn right, cross the high speed lanes and take the 728 bus towards Avenida dos Descobrimentos. You’ll be driven along the river Tejo, going upstream, gazing at a body of water I once thought to be the Atlantic Ocean. Alas, no New York, no Los Angeles, no Rio de Janeiro, only more of the same continent. You will enter it slightly sideways, grabbing my legs and spreading them apart.
And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention, departs from MONITOR team’s research on the history of our current Lisbon space and its relationship with local commerce, as well as a comprehensive observation of our broad experience as part of an art system and the gallery’s appreciation and goals to observe, research, collaborate and participate with the local art ecosystem.
In “Facing Enemies, Melting Opposites” the experience of fiction, understood as a representation operated by imagination and fantasy, seems to have much in common with the philosophical current to which it gives its name, namely that of fictionalism. In it, this concept assumes the practical-utilitarian value of wanting to believe that before certain abstract ideas or principles there is a correspondence with reality. This is why it is argued that fiction is not something totally different from reality but rather an echo, one of the forms through which the real shows itself. The term “fiction”, from lat. fictio-onis, in common language is used as a synonym of falsehood, lie, deceit, subterfuge, but in positive terms of a more creative mold it also refers to the activity of building, forming, structuring, processing and, moreover, thinking, imagining, supposing, inventing, inventing.
With its title describing a physical action, levar a cabeça aos pés brings together a series of new sculptures, which like most of the works by Vera Mota, revolve around the politics of the body. Although, as a subject of (non)representation, the body has occupied a central position within the practice of the artist, the strategies of its scrutiny and politicisation have undergone a gradual transformation throughout the past years. Stepping aside from performance as a medium and the performative act of production, best characterised by Mota´s studio-based compositions, her recent exhibition at the gallery, marks a major shift in the practice of the artist, materialising a new form of sculptural animism and a new agency, while shifting the instrumentalization of the performative into a series of coincidental and strictly conceptual acts.
Spread across two floors of the gallery, No one knows me like Dawn from the Jobcentre features mainly paintings. An honest, sometimes humorous account of time spent on Job Seekers Allowance underpins this body of new work. It invites the viewer to look at the fleeting yet significant relationships we encounter as we strive for success in the face of adversity. Richie’s work draws on many personal references, from his working-class roots, to metropolitan living, as well as his own experience of the darker side of urban life.
There is no presence without absence. We could even argue that the latter sharpens every visual manifestation, because it exists only in relation to a presence that makes it evident. Much of the intrinsic power of the very concept of universality owes its existence to something that is actually absent. From this perspective, loss becomes the space where real and ideal meet, blending into each other. The place where the form becomes eternal and only Beauty can reveal its truth.
We are the last analog representatives on our planet. Retrograde Mercury took away the remains of life in motion, so we arranged an event in the middle of nowhere. We met the other within an insular territory of the endless return. The black gut, leading the posthuman to the abandoned isolated dance-floor, is a wormhole, an error of time and space, the last reminiscence of a mother’s amniotic sac that had nurtured us long before the arrow of time appeared.
In I Will Carry The Weight, the title being the artists answer to Gang Starr’s song Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?, Josh Smith presents a series of new, large and small scale, oil canvases depicting variations of the personification of death: the grim reaper. In each canvas the grim reaper is portrayed with the customary black robe and scythe, positioned in surreal and hallucinatory dark landscapes marked by multi-coloured and vibrant brushstrokes.
FICTIONS aims to investigate the issue concerning the emphasis on what happens to a traditional form of image-making when it enters a digital framework, with a strong interest in the mediation that an artwork under- goes when it is consciously documented, investigated and distributed using digital technology. Both Richard Dupont and Michael Staniak are deeply involved in the question of truth, between the erasure of truth in itself and the revelation of a new aesthetic code, which is still in the process of being defined according to the virtual constellation of infinite possibilities.
A visual artist and a writer, Faldbakken references both modern and contemporary art history, as well as literature in his work. Deconstructing and undermining forms, altering ready-made objects, finding new configurations in collages, and experimenting with the use of words and the alphabet in his works, he invents his own artistic languages.
The “frontal shield” is a colorful element present in nature in the anatomy of a number of species of birds. Set on the bird’s forehead, the “shield” is used to visually attract while at the same time functioning as a protection device. There is also a link between the frontal shield and levels of testosterone production by the males.
In his second solo exhibition, Valentin Dommanget shows a profound evolution in his practice, and changes that mainly concern associations and visions that one may have towards the outside and possible social exchanges. The young French artist – who has always worked in the field of abstraction and having now internalised an aesthetic of digital reference that embraces the geological sciences and the hypercolor, the natural and the artifcio – in these new works also inserts human figures. He does this in order to analyse the interferences to which humanity in general is continually subjected and the new complexities arising in the distorted contemporary moment, in which a phantomatic and latent dark force tries to make us believe in the emptiness and lack of logic of content dissolving our minds through the saturation of data administered daily.
Barry McGee is an artist who takes uncertainty and unpredictability as his guiding principles. Every exhibition is different. He arranges paintings, drawings, sculptures, found objects, and works by other artists into freely improvised installations that roam across the walls, floors, and ceilings of an exhibition space. In the past, his installations have featured everything from robotic graffiti writers to entire shipping containers and automobiles.
It had been speculated that the world would end in 2012, or at the very least mankind would enter a new eon. While the date came and went without a bang, unbeknownst to most humans on earth it may have actually happened, as we replaced our own minds as the smartest things on earth with quantum computing.
Many cultures hire mourners to participate in funerals. They are a chorus, they are decoration, they are guides to the underworld and guides to the range of feelings that come with grieving. In Matthew Dickman’s poem Grief, grief comes as a purple gorilla. He writes: “We sit for an hour / while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been, / crying in the checkout line, / refusing to eat, refusing to shower, / all the smoking and all the drinking. / Eventually she puts one of her heavy / purple arms around me, leans / her head against mine, / and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic. / So I tell her, / things are feeling romantic. / She pulls another name, this time / from the dead, / [...]”.
Thomas van Linge's work embraces popular culture, musical heritage and the effects of technology and commodification on contemporary society. For Deep Down Inside he has created a series of sculptures that mimic the form and function of heavy duty flight cases, acting as archives for a reimagined history of electronic dance music. The Velociraptor-narrated short film follows a similar thread, aligning natural, industrial and cultural phenomena through the notion of sound as a conveyor of the past. Thomas consecutively runs two experimental dance music record labels, BAKK and RUBBER. He also performs under his music moniker Randstad.