We Didn´t Mean To Break It (But It’s Ok We Can Fix It), at Pedro Cera gallery

We Didn´t Mean To Break It (But It’s Ok We Can Fix It). The title’s provocative tone echoes throughout the Pedro Cera gallery, through the works of five artists (Haiyang Wang, Joyce Ho, Poklong Anading, Mak Ying Tung 2, Filippo Sciascia) on display, addressing issues particularly related to the experience of being alive these days.

According to the curator of the exhibition, Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva, the reason that led to the choice of the artists was that they lived in the Asian continent, thus sharing creative characteristics. This link may seem flimsy, since the distance between the different countries is substantial, from the geographical, political and cultural point of view. Still, perhaps because they reside in Asia, or even due to the selection of works, the tension between antithetical times – the time of ritualistic tradition and technical work, and the time of mass mechanical engineering – encompasses all the works exhibited. These evoke issues such as massive urbanization, or the behaviour of individuals in the contemporary world – common to any current society, as noted by Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva.

The trigger is Filippo Sciascia’s piece Lumina Clorofilliana, where the Italian artist, resident in Indonesia since 1997, attaches the sculpture of a Balinese dragon head to an industrial iron pole. Homage to Homage no. 16 presents an almost opposite attitude, where Poklong Anading covers an improvised scaffold with mirrored steel, turning it into a modular, exquisite-looking sculptural object. The satirical approach is also found in the bathroom environment created by Mak Ying Tung 2. Based on contempt, and its overly oneiric character, it reflects on human behaviour, underlining the artificiality of desire stimulated today by assumedly false images. The exhibition also features several watercolours and an animation by Haiyang Wang, where human vulnerability is explored from various angles, ranging from desire to finitude, based on surreal and visceral narratives.

Finally, the artist Joyce Ho stands out for the whimsical way she combines formal simplicity with a technical and conceptual sophistication of the works presented. An example is No Surprises, where the object, similar to a music sheet bookshelf, plays a close-up video of fingers (presumably) typing on a keyboard. The whole set is unusual, with the artist using a mundane and almost robotic gesture, turning it into a fascinating dance. The search for tensions in object-image relations is constant, using a logic similar to that of word games, where the bond between two close and unusual terms causes an ambiguous and laughable result. The public is responsible for interpreting the double meaning suggested by many of her works. In Charging an object plugged into an electrical outlet seems to recharge its battery, while playing a short clip focused on someone’s restlessness. The fluidity between the current imagination and the different artistic fields makes the Taiwanese artist’s work quite stimulating, stepping away from the hermeticism every so typical of a fair share of contemporary art, absorbed in its own codes.

The monotony is undone in We Didn´t Mean To Break It (But It’s Ok We Can Fix It), as on any other occasion where one meets something or someone new. This is no small feat, particularly when there are moments of enthusiasm.

The exhibition is found at Pedro Cera gallery in Lisbon until 14 September, closing for holidays from 1 to 26 August.

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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