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Quando somos 2 somos três. Sara Bichão/Manon Harrois.

Between two a third element is generated, the language. This language is only possible between two. Like a third body, intentionally generated by two, which unifies the first two. Let’s talk about three as a unit.

Thus, when we are 2 we are three.

This is the title of the collective exhibition of Sara Bichão and Manon Harrois that opened on the 11th of October at Fundação Portuguesa das Comunicações.

Together, the two artists generate a common language that comes from an intense magnetism between both. Despite the very different individual works, they share the same sensitivity and fascination by each other’s work and work process, which makes them operate, either individually or together, according to a correspondence between the two. A correspondence from one interior to another based on a strong relationship of trust.

As a body member, the work of Sara Bichão is an extension of her own self. According to the artist, her only discipline while extending to a platform other than her body, is that this extension of herself moves well. Thus, this platform must have within it a living organism that breathes necessarily like her. The protagonists are the organs that give life to this organism. The organs are the matter that fascinates her.

Sara Bichão works on objects that she finds which she finds interesting or that are offered by close people and transforms them by giving them an identity, generating a narrative. A work free of speeches, where fiction and reality are merged and artist and created objects, live together in the same story. A natural play motivated by a joy of doing that comes from an inner excitement, almost childish but deeply conscious and of great rigour and seriousness. By doing, certain inner constraints or impulses are exorcised and therefore understood and consequently overcome. What used to be heavy becomes lighter through a playful process.

Thus, it can be said that the objects of Sara Bichão, appear as catalysts of an interior to an exterior reality and that by their emotional character, they are fundamental in the relationships between the artist and others and the world that surrounds her. Hence they have a plural, social and even political sense.

Sara Bichão develops a visceral work, driven by an almost primitive instinct. In turn, Manon Harrois is interested in architectural matters, her work is intimately related to space and its relation with the artwork and the observer, with the way the observer moves around when confronted with a piece. She develops a sculptural and performance work associated with nomadism, where notions of time, repetition and context are implied.

Movement, which characterizes her work, is rooted in the contact improvisation dance implemented in the early 1970s by the American choreographer Steve Paxton. This type of improvised dance explores the relationship of a body in contact with another body, the sharing of weight, touch and movement awareness. A physical balance that creates a harmony between bodies and space and that has foundations in the martial arts.

Manon Harrois is interested in this balance between two bodies that create a dance, a long, improvised story that refers to the surrealist method cadavre-exquis that subverted the conventional literary discourse. This is how she interprets collaboration, as a challenge to constantly deal with new directions induced by a second person, as a new capacity to live together and as a personal and individual definition related with a confront or a fusion with the other.

In Quando somos 2 somos três are exhibited individual and collective pieces and all refer to the correspondence between the two artists. Both individualities resonate in their common collaboration.

The exchange of objects, materials and opinions has become a necessary constant issue in both artistic practices, something that has been developed over 4 years of sharing. Sara Bichão refers to the greatness of the responsibility each time she works or uses any element offered by Manon Harrois. In turn, Manon Harrois emphasizes the importance of a constant sharing during the work process, whether individual or collective, even if most of the times this sharing occurs when both artists are in different countries.

It is present in both works an idea of ​​longevity of materials, most of them organic, destructible (a tooth, a wooden beam, a bone or even sand), through an act of caring and, consequently, of preserving. Latex, used by Manon Harrois allows copying and maintaining forms that will sooner or later disappear, perpetuating their memory. Sara Bichão uses wax as a kind of mediator and protective material between the object and the public.

The way that the pieces are placed in the gallery space builds a topography that drives the movement of the audience and motivates a specific eye choreography. There are works placed on the floor, on the walls and others hanging on the ceiling. More or less direct relationships are established between them and with the public. A rhythm is imprinted in the space, almost a musical rhythm, in the way the pieces are distributed, presenting themselves as clues to one another and mapping the space according to the dialogue that they establish.

The titles of the pieces, which often have a different date from the date of their production, are, most of the times, the result of conversations between the two artists and give an identity and a context to each piece. Thus, each work appears as a character who interacts with the others within a narrative, telling a story.

The mutual influence present in both works is the result of a very strong proximity and gives an intimate sense to the relationship between the two and the pieces. The direct relationship between them and the materials, the history of the materials and the history of the works is the essence of this collective exhibition. Quando somos 2 somos três by Sara Bichão and Manon Harrois, can be seen until the 17th of November at Fundação Portuguesa das Comunicações.

Joana Duarte (Lisbon, 1988), architect, lives and works in Lisbon. She concluded her Master in Architecture at FA-UL in 2011, she attended TUe in the Netherlands and did her professional internship in Shanghai, China. She collaborated with the Swiss studios Bureau A (Leopold Banchini and Daniel Zamarbide) and Bureau (Daniel Zamarbide) where she has developed a practice between Art and Architecture, between Portugal and Switzerland. At the moment she is exclusively dedicated to her own projects as well as in collaboration with other architects and artists. Recently she has started a curatorial practice, after concluding her postgraduate degree in Curatorial Studies at FCSH-UL.

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