(Português) Amanhã não há arte, de Carla Filipe
The metaphor of the history of images is journey-driven. From conception to production, and then reproduction and repetition, the image is passively subjected to the spatiotemporal flow of human wills and perspectives. And if, until recently, contexts remained attached to images – liken subtitles of works exhibited in hyper-galleries, hyperspaces and times – now, due to the cumulative, compulsive and pornographic proliferation of flows and repetitions – diametrically opposed to reproductions –, there is no longer a guarantee of the origin and protection of the original account. Because the journeys are endless. Because, after all, the real narrative is the one tainted by the neoliberal desecration, by the hypermodern times, by the oblivion itself.
And repetition forgets.
Nowadays, images travel in the indifference of the original spirit that conceived them. If, from a pedagogical and scientific standpoint, reproduction barely jeopardizes the original message, it is not so clear that it can reveal the concealed – in other words, what is truly artistic – part of the conception and production effort. Decontextualization comes from the exhaustive post-reproduction repetition, from the tarnishing of the image and its submission to a territory that is often adverse, corrupted and corruptible. The ad nauseam repetition triggers the erosion of the message and often the erosion of its author’s own will. And this ad nauseam also often takes refuge in a sort of ad libitum – a perverse, pornographic pleasure (already mentioned) of using images “as one deems appropriate”, satisfying a hidden libido, in this constant restlessness to see, to click, to share, to repeat.
As a result, the ontology of image loses its eternal inherent weight. The image becomes content and, during that journey, it loses its authorship and results in anonymity. What is the point of teaching to see and to watch if that lesson does not comprehend the ethics of image and authorship? The focus on who has produced, where, in what situation; the focus on how to ensure the legacy of the image, the vital information that supports it; the focus on how to quote, who to quote, the reason for quoting, naming and under what circumstances – are all elements worthy of debate.
Using flags, repetition and graphic images of political struggles, Carla Filipe proposes, in Amanhã não há arte [Tomorrow there won’t be any art], a reflection on the journey of those same images, in a more or less silent, political-union struggle. The exhibition creates a positive environment for debate and introspection, establishing a fictional square with room for conversation, relaxation, permanence and the constant flow of people. The noise comes from the images and their repetition, from the color saturation, from the oversized flags hanging from the ceiling. The remaining elements are particularly silent and the voice gives its place to words, in a journal-like publication, which compiles the laws that protect the artists and authors of images and works.
This is a political exhibition whose intent is to reach consensus and balance in a world that has bent its knee before neoliberalism, in which citizens and workers are given few protections, if any. In fact, if there is anything that has fallen outside the scope of art history, which privileges the genius over the artisan, is that the artist is a worker. Before the profession and the mystery, before the canonization and the eternalization of their images and works, the artist is a homo faber: of images, sculptures, installations, etc. The union struggle environment, promoted by Filipe, retrieves that forgotten side of the artist and their daily work, often on the edge of poverty, when forced to work – but also to fight – for their greater vocation.
Obviously, there are contradictions, which are not ignored by the curatorial text of Luís Silva and João Mourão, nor by the artist herself. Carla Filipe also relies on images and submits them for repetition, without making a complete exegesis of them and their authors. And her images and graphics are the manifests of an ideology probably contrary to that of the museum and the institutions that support it. However, it would be unfair to say that these factors undermine the solid and consistent position of the artist and the curator. In politics, because it is something made up of words, but also of decisions, actions, organic manifestations and unpredictability, there are always contradictions, which, nevertheless, do not compromise all that is achieved during the revolution. And because politics, in this case, has a revolutionary purpose – and recalling the wise postulations of Ursula K. Leguin – what matters in the revolution is the middle, not the end.
Amanhã não há arte appeals to that revolution, which was left to be continued. The images of the post-Carnation Revolution remind us of that. But also, the left-wing struggles, the forgotten class struggles, which can now find the vibration of renewal and reinterpretation in art.
Images have now reached a global territory and technology has opened the pandora’s box of misinformation, moral and ethical sedation, and contempt. The present-day challenge of images is far greater than its long-gone journeys confined to a specific geography. But this challenge is not inferior to the men who contemplate and conceive the images – one needs to find small solutions (no longer a solution, or the solution) for the difficulties encountered, otherwise tomorrow there won’t be any art.
Until 8 September, at MAAT‘s Project Room.