No meio do caminho tinha um osso, tinha um osso no meio do caminho – or the expeditionary adventure of Pedro Valdez Cardoso
The history of the contemporary art has been acknowledging a generalized appropriationist trend in the artistic practice field, dwelling – repeatedly, it must be said – on the incorporation of the archeologic, ethnographic, cartographic, documental or archival imagery. Indeed, the contemporary artist has been, eagerly and passionately, exploring the border zone between art and science, embracing a proto-scientific lingo – tangentially, the one of the interstitium.
No meio do caminho tinha um osso, tinha um osso no meio do caminho – at Galeria Central of Fundação Portuguesa das Comunicações, in Lisbon – is the outcome of such a fruitful encounter, retrieving the romantic enchantment – of the 19th century, by the way – around the expeditionary adventure in the last wild territory of the planet, that odd world, the place of the unknown. Filipa Oliveira, who signs the text of the room sheet, sets the frame of Pedro Valdez Cardoso’s exhibition – a set easily understood “as a single series” – in the context of his fascination with the Arctic, which nourished the popular curiosity at the turn of the century.
This is a set that, mixing drawing and sculpture, summons “a mythological and fictional past”, in the sense of a reflection on the current panorama and, specifically, on the environmental issue – or, at least, on the impact of human activity on the planet’s devastation. But this narrative, presented under “a museographic and documentary logic”, does not refer to a distant reality which has been actually lived. It should be said, then, that this exhibition does not appear like an echo of the past, but rather as a vision of the future – so is conceived by the author of the text, describing a “chaotic design” played between the figure and the grid, the map of a land that never was, the skeleton of a species to be catalogued, a fantastic, perhaps hybrid being. However, in any case, the artist offers a partial and somehow hindered vision – scratching, tearing or cutting one or another section of the map and compromising, in this way, its alleged role.
Pedro Valdez Cardoso “suspends time and the historical, geographical and anthropological truth”, refusing the rigor of scientific procedure, but assuming the imagery and discourse usually associated with it – on the most mundane surface, such as the dish rag. But, in this context, the map does not convey the certainty, does not materialize the truth. In other words, the mapping does not necessarily constitute an exercise of power. Indeed, its imperative overtone is nullified: this map exists beyond the universal realm and the totalizing ambition. It should be noted, however, the permanence of the matrix device. After all, any operation evokes it, even when it transgresses it. From the grid is projected all and any form of wandering, since it acts as the regulatory element not only of creation, but also of destruction. The grid, that already inescapable, probabilistic framework, is from where the design unfolds indefinitely – through the non-mapped, that place of the unknown, the “territory of the dragons”.