A Sonic Youth
It is important to make periodic visits to less known artistic territories and map new trends. Filipa Oliveira, the curator of the exhibition A Sonic Youth, states that a curator does not do futurology. And, in fact, how often have we not seen young promises that disappear after a while? But that doesn’t invalidate frequent consultations with new artists, to understand new trends and therefore expand the artistic field and its possibilities. That’s what happens in A Sonic Youth.
At Galeria Municipal de Almada, we can see 14 artists who work in different media and talk about various topics. There are several trends, from Adriana Pragaró’s figurative painting to the installations, including the one by Inês Neto dos Santos. Among the artists present, some already have a remarkable work, taking into account their age and extension of artistic practice. One example is Jaime Welsh, who lives and works in London, a scholarship holder of both the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Goldsmiths University of London, represented here by the series Blood (2019). A sequence of photographs where characters are reflected and doubled through mirrors and screens. There is a charged psychological mirroring that is contained within Welsh’s intimate still scenarios, shot within the artist’s own room. In 136min into Blood the character, lying on a mirror, gazes at himself on a monitor. We see an image within an image and a confrontation between repetitions. However, on closer inspection we notice that the reflections are at odds with eachother, the mirrored face wears an ever so slightly different expression, giving the work a certain uncanniness which puts us in a state of both wonder and perplexion. It is evident that there are recurring concerns in this series, which deal with attempts to recognise oneself as an object in the world, a search for sanity through doubling. A reference to a Narcissus of modern times, who no longer looks at himself in the water, but in the mirror itself, and reviews that moment. A kind of chrysalis that never becomes a butterfly.
Inês Neto dos Santos presents a bookcase of fermented items Ferment Tour (2019). Several shelves contain bottles with different foods (fruits, vegetables and tea) in multiple stages of fermentation. Inês shares with us a piece she has already presented in other locations. It’s part of a journey that also involves performance in places where she cooks, and where visitors can even try the fermented products themselves (which, as we know, are essential to a good diet, because they provide natural probiotics). This work allows us not to sense the taste itself, but experience a visual and odoriferous fruition – after all, the fermentation has an intense odour. What we see inside the bottles are colonies of bacteria (which, at a certain point in the fermentation, are very important to our intestines) and give us a kind of floating visual sonata, with different dimensions, textures and colours.
The first disorder is formed by a pair of artists: Hugo Gomes and João Marques, whose young work has a strong political component and social criticism. He also has a strong sense of humour, displayed in his work Para Pagar Multas, Advogados e Despesas de Tribunal (2018), in which a metal petrol canister was painted with a groove, making it a giant piggy bank. A kind of foretaste of what might be the interventive nature of this duo and the problems that might possibly arise from it.
Mood Keep (2014) by Alice Reis shows us a contemplative video of axolotls (a kind of endangered salamander whose name comes from an Aztec god). We are given some information about these animals and a story about how some specimens developed eyelids in different parts of the world.
This event will become biennial. For Filipa Oliveira, this consultation with new generations should be cyclical, since its nature is quite imponderable. On the other hand, it also seems important, as it allows us to give a voice to artists who, although they are not yet part of the more institutional artistic circuit, have the opportunity to make their voices heard and show their work in a format that somehow protects them.