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De Outros Espaços, at the Galeria Municipal do Porto

The Galeria Municipal do Porto presents De Outros Espaços, yet another exhibition devised from the EDP Foundation Art Collection. The partnership between both institutions is now extended, connecting the respective cities, creations, practices, discourses and, of course, artists. Available until 18 August.

 

As Michel Foucault[1] (1984) reflects on contemporaneity, the current exhibition of the Galeria Municipal do Porto can present itself as an occasion “of simultaneity, juxtaposition, of the near and far, of the side-by-side and of the dispersed”. Based on these notions, it is possible to depict the artistic ensemble currently exhibited, which conveys a strong, affirmative and dynamic assembly that needs to be known. Forty-three artists are gathered with more than seventy works, dated between the sixties and the present day, therefore encompassing a wide-ranging spectrum which includes different eras and means, subject matters and expressions.

The exhibition’s reference point was Foucault’s participation at Cercle d’Études Architecurales, in 1967. This presentation, later published as an essay, was the starting point of the curators, from which the title emerged as well. Keeping in mind the theorist’s efforts, the exhibition developed itself and it consists of an exercise that correlates several elements, allowing to see multiple eras, moments and occurrences that, together, make up the history of the artists and the sphere of art, but also of History itself and its main character, Man.

Reflecting on space is the main concern. First and foremost, the immediate and physical space, the gallery, including the limits of the building itself, as well as the immediate relationship to the gardens of Palácio de Cristal and the streets of downtown Porto. At the same time, space as a context. In other words, the artistic and the cultural, the space-time relative to the date and the current moment during which the exhibition takes place. The studios and locations of the artists can also be considered, from which the works come from, where they have been thought, conceived and produced, or also the source of the different inspirations and creative influences. Therefore, it is necessary to broadly understand the notion of spatiality, corresponding to the countless and overlapping dimensions that artists and objects have, in their training, meaning and existence. All space, regardless of their category, postulates paths, discourses and languages posthumously taken.

This angle is reflected in a complex exercise, whose practical application and materialization are achieved by two talented curators, João Silvério and Pedro Gadanho. As they have mentioned in the exhibition’s missive, they attempted to address the “notions of space, imagined and developed by visual artists, as opposed to the scientific or technical concept of space”. This premise has endless ramifications on other issues, something acknowledgeable as extremely significant in contemporary art exhibitions, that is, the openness to other fields, with non-hermetic artistic and reflective actions.

Michel Foucault delves into a heterotopia, which is “capable of juxtaposing, in a single real space, several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible”. In the current exhibition at the Municipal Gallery of Porto, there is an extremely diverse selection of works and artists. The magnitude of the names includes some already established, expected to be seen whenever part of the national collection is shown, chosen as representatives of Portuguese art. Lourdes Castro, with the work Projectada de Milvia Maglione (1967), Helena Almeida com Mão atravessada por uma caixa interior (1990) and Nuno Cera whose set of nine videos entitled FUTURELAND – The Real (2009-2010) questions space, urbanism and architecture through metropolises, individuals, actions, standpoints and perspectives that, shown side by side, are confrontational and dialogic.

Ana Vidigal, Bruno Cidra, Fernanda Fragateiro, Leonor Antunes and Ângela Ferreira can also be highlighted, particularly the latter, who welcomes the viewer at the gallery entrance with a visually striking installation, proportional to its formal and aesthetic quality. The piece Monumento a D. Flavin (a uma utopia ideológica para contemplar), conceived in 2008, is inspired by the paramount reference of the minimalist movement. Equally straightforward, the structure of Ângela Ferreira’s installation and the way it is exhibited establish a relationship with Russian constructivism, whose geometry and formal rigor depicted political and social operations, defending and establishing a life-linked art. Another observation and interpretational challenge, Love Map, Walking Distance (2016) is found inside the building. Signed by Rui Calçada Bastos, it holds the viewer at the beginning of the exhibition. It’s possible to witness and listen to the outcome of two different media conjoined, edifying a hybrid map of unusual scale, with a cartography equally real and fictional that covers six European cities, Lisbon included.

Luís Nobre’s work is also significant, whose title matches the exhibition’s. It stands out due to its fluorescent green hues and unique figuration. Also, with unique materiality and visuality traits, a large-sized piece by Francisco Vidal brightens the back wall of the room, called Utopia Luuanda Machine, Nam Barroque Wild Cats I (2005-2019). The artist, of Angolan and Cape Verdean origin, transfers African roots to this Portuguese context, that of the city, the gallery and the project presented. His creation is revealed in an acrylic painting on wooden cardboard, which gathers and interconnects faces and words, whose perception is only viable through a particularly attentive observation. Just like the movie theater reflected by Foucault, the back of the gallery’s rectangular area projects three-dimensional spaces on a two-dimensional canvas. In a way, this last work summarizes the dynamics of the exhibition’s endless flows, materializing it as something densely heterogeneous and global.

One last time, extending the exercise of reflecting on the exhibition based on Michel Foucault’s text, it is understood that, similar to our experience in the world, the current exhibition at the Galeria Municipal do Porto has several language games around the notion of space(s), associations and relationships, as a “network that connects points and intersects with its own skein (…) that is enriched with time”.

 

[1] Text available at https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/1563769/mod_resource/content/1/FOUCAULT%20other-spaces.pdf

Constança Babo (Porto, 1992) has a degree in Photography from the Escola Superior Artística do Porto [Porto Superior School of Art] and a Master's Degree in Artistic Studies - Theory and Criticism of Art from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto. It already has an important number of critical texts, mostly published in the online magazine ArteCapital, from 2015 to the present, with some texts of exhibition guides related to galleries, as well as the production of press releases. In addition to the writing work, she also dedicates himself to the photographic work of exhibitions and art events.

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