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Cabra Cega, at the Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery

Cabra Cega is the exhibition that celebrates the second anniversary of the Balcony gallery. The artist Tiago Alexandre was invited to present a curatorial project and he did it in a curious way. The moment is not one of exultation, much less one of celebration; on the contrary, the exhibition is guided by a mysterious and introspective tone. The decision is stimulating and seems to underline the fact that Balcony is still/already two years old.

At the end of the staircase that gives access to the lower floor, the entrance is made by a torn hole in the wall and the rules are established: the place is inhospitable, the atmosphere is different from that of the gallery and the poor lighting prevents the route from being truly “pitch black”. There are moving boxes, transport boxes, clay busts, paintings, furniture, rats – those of the artist Sara Mealhas –, many objects and works that merge with each other and with the space itself, complicating their interpretation.

An attic; a hiding place rediscovered, forged or hijacked; the relationship with children’s play that gives preference to touch rather than sight. The undefinition of the place itself keeps us clinging to the exhibition blueprint, like a treasure map in search of the works of the twelve artists. These artists, who, in silence, permanently observe us from the clay busts, born through the moulds by the curator and artist Tiago Alexandre.

Cabra Cega is a unique moment. The choice of pieces emphasizes the idea that this is not a collective exhibition to show the artists’ production – that will take place in other opportunities. Here, the works on display point to a concrete direction, intended by the curator, based on the intimate knowledge of each one’s work.

The spatial displacement and the immense and different materials – for instance, the curatorial work of Paulo Mendes – occur within the gallery itself, following the several manipulations that it has been gone through since its inception, following the specificities of each exhibition and artist.

It’s difficult to talk about this exhibition without comparing it to the trajectory of the young gallery, which seems to seek the sobriety of a path in the irreverence and readiness of the proposals presented. This vision may be one of the reasons for the clairvoyance of this exhibition, which brings together some of the major names responsible for the continued construction of the gallery over the last two years – Ana Vidigal, Binelde Hyrcan, DeAlmeida eSilva, Fernão Cruz, Horácio Frutuoso, João Pedro Vale e Nuno Alexandre Ferreira, Nikolai Nekh, Nuno Nunes-Ferreira, Sara Mealha, Tiago Alexandre and Vera Mota.

Until 17 November, at Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery.

Francisco Correia (b. 1996) lives and works in Lisbon. He studied Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes at Universidade de Lisboa and finished the post-graduation on Art Curatorship at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has been writing for and about exhibitions, while simultaneously developing his artistic project.

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