Dissonant Counterpoint – Johanna M. Beyer by Diana Policarpo

Up there, everything is true, there is no reason to doubt – and why should we question what is exposed by that white’s light? From being so affirmative, it assumes an intimidating tone. It is the earliest invention of contemporary art, of what was called contemporary art: a necessarily operating, contextualizing white – the one that legitimates. There, in all the white cube, everything one hears is a certainty. This should and cannot serve as consolation. Given that certainty is blinding, more than clarifying: in this case, or perhaps in any case, too much light hurts.

Down here, in this sort of bunker, the fault is not polished. After all, unlike what is commonly supposed, contemporaneity happens on the shadow’s side, a subterranean dimension where every crater is as deep as it seems. According to Agamben, the contemporary is the one who “gets right in their face the beam of darkness that comes from their time”. This had been said already, in another form and shape, by Dostoevsky: only those who belong to the underground are able to see beyond the beautiful and sublime, the darkness matter in vaudeville. Certainly, no longer in the plane of literalness, no longer just a level below the earthly world. All of a sudden, the underground appears as the place of revelation. Belo Campo – the building’s old wine cellar, turned into an exhibition space by the hand of Missika – reaffirms the urgency of this long-awaited return to the originating place of artistic creation. Altamira, Lascaux, Chauvet. Bataille, before anything else.

It is interesting to note, as a matter of fact, that this return to the “night of times” is done in feminine: up to now, and perhaps not innocently, only her voice, the woman in the cave, the wife of the cave – after Folly, Diana Policarpo. If that was not enough, and it never is, Policarpo evokes Beyer, an ultra-modernist German-American composter, an absolute trail blazer in the electronic music experimentation. Yet, an immigrant and a single woman, somewhere in her 30s – an entire work available to be listened to, to be acknowledged. Dissonant Counterpoint assumes the struggle against the power structure that allowed it to be, against the “highly androcentric and confining system” that hid Beyer – far beyond the #metoo, above all and any hashtag.

Galeria Francisco Fino, right at the left, after the door down the hallway, an opening in the ground – from which the post-apocalyptic light of this intervention gushes out – invites the visitor to descend: in the beginning, an antechamber, a moment of passage; when inside, this tripartite experience, so cleverly architected, which stems not only from the appropriatenist gesture, but also, and foremost, from a sense of justice – stated, without hesitation, on the room page. Policarpo honours Beyer by means of a dialoguing device, having as much of Policarpo as it has of Beyer, articulating sound, text and sculpture (although not necessarily in this order). Two Movements: Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet and The Spheres (21’20’’) in the first and third, from one corner to the other, draw a diagonal in each room. Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet (8’10’’) in the second, a pome in turn, runs as red through the black background of an LED display. From Leipzig to the Bronx: Letters from Beyer to Conwell, with the spoken word of Beber, and Status Quo/Music of the Spheres: Opera Typescript (12’54’’) are everywhere, in permanent tension, in search of catharsis – the one that is owed to Beyer (and to each Beyer).

Dissonant Counterpoint translates its interest for the cosmic resonance of electricity, for proto-minimalist music, for the most basic form of noise. However, it is beyond all of that. This is a larger project, the declaration of a commitment – of a rescue, as a starting point – by an artist who is genuinely fascinated by the work and also by the life of this composer.

Finally, it should be added: more or less aware of this reality, with greater or lesser tolerance to the enamel’s odour, one needs to experience the so-called performance-installation – at least to get acquainted with the space which hosts it.

Carolina Machado (Lisbon, 1993). Currently working as a researcher at Instituto de História da Arte with a fellowship granted by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia to attend the PhD in Art Studies - Art and Mediations at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Already holding a MA in Aesthetics and Art Studies - Art and Political Cultures and a PgD in Art Curatorship from the same institution, as well as a BA in Painting from Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa. She is moving forward with her research project: «Genealogy of derivative practise: Study on the production, mediation and reception system of derivative work within the emerging art scene in the Portuguese context (2015-2025)» comes from «On the transgressive gesture under the aestheticising logic of the post-contemporary scene: An approach to emerging art practise in the Portuguese context (2016-2019)» and aims to scrutinise the ascendancy of a derivative force over the creative gesture, progressively nurtured by the youngest generation operating within this spatiotemporal framework.

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