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André Martins – finalist of the Sonae Media Art award

“The lack of sensitivity to new technologies takes its toll on the demand of museums, galleries or contests”

In 2015, one of the winning works of the Youth Biennale of Jov’arte was the photo Retrato Coletivo: 60 pessoas, a project that is still ongoing and one based on long-term photographs. Several individuals are placed in front of the camera, each one for the same amount of time: the light reflected by them keeps burning the film as the exposure moves on, allowing the capture of the build-up made of light reflections, which defined the presence of those photographed. The outcome is “a shadow that actually is no one, rather all at the same time”, André Martins, the piece’s author, reveals, someone who is also one of the five finalists of the Sonae Media Art award.

He is now finishing his degree in Media Arts at FBAUL and, already this year, he will have his two first exhibitions: the collective exhibition at the end of the year, held at MNAC (Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea), one that will be under scrutiny by the jury of the Sonae Media Art Prize, the body that will decide the prize’s ultimate winner, and also the individual exhibition as a reward provided by the Youth Biennale of Jov’arte, which will take place in the city of Loures, from June to September.

Still in the beginning stages of his career, his fondness for media art is something that began during his adolescence, a period in which he would “spend hours finding out artists online and trying to discover mediums”, he reveals to Umbigo. Of course the interest in this field was expanded (and also defined) with his degree in Media Arts, through which he was allowed the chance to meet artists and works that influenced him, but such interest was already vivid during his first degree in nursing.

“Besides doing Theater since ever, something that gave me some acquaintance with the Performative realm, I was particularly interested in Photography and Video, as well as in Technology and the Internet,” an affection that sparkled in André Martins the need to create experiences, which he shared with online platforms to know what was the feedback on them.

Since Media Art is a field associated with digital technology and electronics, “its exploration abides by the rhythm through which people absorb the new gadgets and the new platforms”, André Martins explains. Thus the importance of feedback at an early stage, after all this is a field in permanent mutation.

Nonetheless, in the artist’s view, Media Art is “not sufficiently explored by the artists and also by education that is lectured in art academies – since it requires a sort of sensitivity to new technologies, something that does not happen with the most traditional mediums, people still have to get acquainted with it, which ultimately affects the demand of museums, galleries or contests”.

A perspective that has been changing recently, and one in which the “Sonae Media Art prize has a pivotal role, since it establishes a space where they can get visibility”, André Martins points out, he who has just submitted the proposal that he will exhibit at MNAC: “a project which will mishmash several media and that will find its place between the online and the offline”.

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