Preservation of the species in Olho Zoomórfico, by Mariana Silva

For the most distracted ones, and taken into account the concentration of multiple cultural events, you still have time to visit the solo exhibition by Mariana Silva Olho Zoomórfico [Zoomorphic Eye], on display until the end of February at Espaço Projecto of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, curated by Leonor Nazaré. It is a work of a young artist, resident in New York, done exclusively for this room, being the first Portuguese to expose in that part of the Museum under its new Direction.

After having won, in 2015, the prize EDP Novos Artistas, and also the BES Revelação, Mariana Silva, the artist, continues her path with the preferred support, the screen.

The awards that she has won do not alter her rhythm and way of working. In 2015, the artist emphasized the need for the preservation of artistic objects of cultural heritage, questioning the concept of museum-work. To Mariana, the language of the consecrated, a concept which, in the current panorama of visual arts, does not correspond to the atmosphere under which she works.

Quite the opposite. There is a communion between persons of the same field with different practices, keeping a permanent continuity. She said she does not believe in masterpieces because, in contemporary realm, artists have been building works that are more prone to the assessment of a personal path, of a personal discourse that one has to take, where different works are part of a mapping to build. This outlook should not be focused on a single job for evaluation; which is the reason why she does not take into consideration any work that is based on a definitive character, rather in successive approximations.

My works build coherent questions. Mariana Silva

She has been directing videos after having finished her degree. She is devoted to art, using her endeavours as support for strong messages, centred on sociocultural issues that concern her the most. However, she opted for training in Painting, because it encouraged her to step into experimentation at the expense of the field of sculpture, despite the latter having registered breakthroughs in the field of Art History, in the last 70 years.

With this work, Silva solidifies her position by prompting timely questions focused on a reflection about the mass extinction of animal species and hunting practices in their natural habitat. At the same time, she addresses the issue of the human eye and virtual reality.

Her artistic work is marked by a strong conceptual component, which mirrors her concern with cultural, museum and sociological issues. From the questioning of the museological space between culture and nature, the artist reshifted her research to the theoretical ways of thinking about the audiences, surrounding herself with cases of scientific study, and also evaluating the reflexive discourse that serves as a framework, already explored by the author in other aspects.

The audio-visual installation consists of four phases: two pieces designed in the same support, loop projections positioned in opposite directions Camera Trap and Olho Zoomórfico; and a trimmed digital printing on canvas Media Insecto, and finally, Folha de Sala emerges, with a purely conceptual nature formed by text, a plant on acetate sheets.

The key work is comprised of two video projections in a circular screen, side by side, where two friends, Ngueve and Margot, discuss the subject of the extinction of species, exchanging views and asking questions without finding answers. The expository argument leads to the human relationship with nature, in its different forms of observation, with virtual images and technology as the simulacra of a life already extinct or about to be.

The intervention Media Insecto, where the painting is found in a composition of plastic nature, has the function of cutting and dividing the exhibition space between the entrance and its interior, as if it was a room divider, which coexists with the projections.

Along the trimmed curtain, one observes plans of digital images of birds and insects, where the screen displays two pictures that represent masses of migratory birds. The screen clipping in circular configuration allows its own waving, following the migratory movement of the masses. The light distribution goes through the curtains that semi-darken the room, separating it from the entry, and drawing through oblique lines of light. The foci of light penetrate in space, through the curtain, towards the audience that roams around, as if we were in nature.

Therefore, we are confronted with a work of an artist/researcher who now has a new role, something recurrent in emerging creators of contemporary artistic production, using advanced techniques with the experimental practice of visual arts, in order to obtain unexpected and surprising results.

Manuela Synek has collaborated with Umbigo magazine for over ten years. As the years go by, it identifies itself more and more with this consistent, ever-changing, innovative, bold and consistent design in its editorial line. She is a Historian and Art Critic graduated by the Superior Institute of Artistic Careers of Paris in Critique of Art and Aesthetics. She is also graduated in Aesthetics from the University of Paris I - Panthéon – Sorbonne and has the "Postgraduate Course in History of Art, Contemporary Art Strand", by Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Manuela is the author of books on authors in the area of Plastic Arts and has participated in Colloquiums as Lecturer related to Artistic Heritage; Painting; Sculpture and Design in Universities; Higher Schools and Autarchies. Lately she specialized in the subject of Public Art and Urban Space, with the analysis of the artistic works where she has made Communications. She writes for Umbigo magazine about the work of artists in the area of the visual arts who appear in the field of exhibitions and also the dissemination of emerging Portuguese values with new supports since installation, photography and video, where the body appears in its various aspects, raising pertinent issues.

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