O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47 [The World Started at 5:47 am] and with it the promise of a new day.

O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47 [The World Started at 5:47 am], with the sun piercing the horizon and the dawn of a brand-new hope.

O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47 [The World Started at 5:47 am] in 1946, with a play by Luiz Francisco Rebelo and a reflection on mankind’s position in the world, its condition, and the possibilities of its political volition – in a turning point after the World War II. Nevertheless, this switch in Portugal was only partial, and the willingness to unleash a revolution in the name of freedom was barely visible, although vividly experienced between the lines of a book, in the spots of a canvas, in the breaks and experimentalism of a play.

Decades later, O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47 has remerged with its message updated, following the critical and artistic perspective of Hugo Canoilas, Miguel Castro Caldas and Tatiana Macedo. And Rebelo’s play, and this mishmash of eras and visions, is the starting point for the third exhibition of the COSMO/POLÍTICA cycle, in the Museum of Neo-Realism, curated by Sandra Vieira Jürgens and Paula Loura Batista.

Hugo Canoilas is perhaps the artist who articulates this whole exhibition, not exactly through the concept of the work, but the shape it assumes within that space. In this installation-work, Canoilas restores the class struggle portrayed and epitomized by Rebelo and society censorship. Relying on the satire and criticism from O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47, Canoilas also alludes to the feeble condition of the contemporary artist and of an artistic community divided as well by classism enforced by capitalism. The dropped and spotted pants on the floor are a self-portrait of someone who has been weakened and stripped work after work; the sneakers closed in a black cage, an encapsulated freedom, or, in the artist’s interpretation, caged lungs; the scream on the canvas is a stifled voice, an anger that cannot vibrate throughout the atmosphere.

Tatiana Macedo’s photographs encircle the whole gesture perpetrated by Hugo Canoilas and refer to a crossroads of intentions. In other words, they reveal how Rebelo’s intentions cross paths with Macedo’s very own intents and artistic practice. Based on the extensive photographic and film archive that she has gathered throughout multiple projects and journeys, the artist searches in the play’s dialogues for concerns that are also found throughout her work, echoes and flows (whatever these are) that lie side by side. Likewise, the artist briefly enhances the secondary role that the woman figure has in Rebelo’s work. In fact, the concept of man, here, is simply tied to the male role. And any future revolution will be led by him. The woman is nothing more than a vehicle of others’ wills and actions, someone who just gives birth to a man.

For his part, Miguel Castro Caldas bases his performance exclusively on this play. Structured on the Benjaminian and Brechtian view of theater, Caldas works the metalanguage concealed in the play and its ambiguous nature, the staged and the improvised, and the possible restrictions of language and authenticity. In the experimental standpoint proposed by O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47, the author invites a female spectator to the stage, demanding an action from her that, when all things considered, is programmed and preestablished in the text, foreshadowing an issue whose solution and acceptance is rather complex. After all, the spectator’s voice is replaced by the author’s, silencing the former. Who is who to speak on whose behalf? How can we give voice to someone when, in the end and, after all, it is our own voice that gets written, drawn, recorded? These are the tensions and concerns that Caldas immortalizes in Folheação (first, like a performance and, then, in the well-founded scenic object), specifically when it comes to “giving voice” to something or someone. Engraved in stone, like a tombstone or epitaph, “giving me a voice” is the paramount and original issue of any revolution-supporting art – a voice, in this case, seized when voices are, by nature, unseizable.

The exhibition’s outcome is a negotiation of visions and different interpretations of artists who attempt to use art to circumvent politic and democracy issues, relying on a historical or chronological mismatch.

Because, if O Mundo Começou às 5 e 47 [The World Started at 5:47 am], its end isn’t exactly known.

(Until 31 March, at Museum of Neo-Realismo, in Vila Franca de Xira.)

José Rui Pardal Pina (n. 1988) has a master's degree in architecture from I.S.T. in 2012. In 2016 he joined the Postgraduate Course in Art Curation at FCSH-UNL and began to collaborate in the Umbigo magazine. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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