An Atlas for the Banishment
Susana Anágua takes us on a journey on the meaning of the word “banishment”, relying on a multidisciplinary project which concatenates the industrial and historical memory, as well as the toponymy of the city of Lisbon, taking into account the composition’s unpredictability that the territory may take. A subject that extends itself over time, without a feasible solution: within the city’s mechanics, as a living organism, there are banished and intriguing areas given its overhanging condition, when compared to the rest of the city.
The artist’s starting point is a specific area of the city, named Desterro (Banishment, in English), whose outlines are undetermined within the parish of Anjos, and whose meaning as a word, past and future is also uncertain: it means a unpopulated and lonely spot, referring to places that are currently abandoned, expatriated from the rest of the city. The name derives from the now defunct Hospital da Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Hospital of Our Lady of Desterro), which operated from 1591 to 2007, akin to several other buildings and structures whose functionality started to lose its value as time moved on.
The exhibition starts with the portray of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, patron saint of the expatriates and exiled people, a video projection loop. Next, a multimedia frieze is presented, based on nine images, shifting between motionlessness and a deliberate movement. They show buildings and places that are part of the artist’s research work, identified as banished places, fostering the idea of progress or decline. This set of works, or a tour, is completed with an Atlas that is constituted by collecting fragments of previously presented images. A volume with an instructive illustration on this subject, printed in carbon paper, a material that has fallen into disuse due to the technological breakthroughs that decreed its demise, once again throwing back to the industrial activity.
Relying on the use of documentary and speculative forms, the artists establishes an opposition between the industrial systems of the social and economic regimes that are behind their emergence, where Celso Martins, the curator, denotes “a visual and linguistic flow in which one is surprised by the historical change that takes place with contradictory and paradoxical movements”. Her work is translated into a mapping and researching endeavour made of industrial buildings and memories, which synthesise themselves in these three presented pieces, capable of unveiling the confrontation between several anachronistic times, which cohabit and try to set a dialogue between them. Adding to this show, there is also the musical project Desterrado, 2017 of 8551120.
Desterro, until August 27, at SONAE Room of the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Chiado.