Dreamers never learn (tidal), by Vasco Barata, at MAAT

Vasco Barata presents in MAAT’s Cinzeiro 8 (an always unique and challenging room) several works in the form of spoils, which communicate among themselves and with the particularities of the space itself, defining the taciturn and dreamlike environment revealed by the title.

But, still without the vision of the curator Carolina Grau, nor any explanatory information, the metaphorical bridge to fantasy, to dream and to dreamers, seems somewhat distant. In turn, the identification of the exhibition’s title, tidal, is immediate and leaves no doubt: the gravel scattered on the gallery floor is a vestige of the tidal movement, which alerts us to its imminent reappearance. That is why there is a deeply concrete dimension to this scenario where we emerge. The photographs and installations, in particular the work From differentiation to sameness (2019), composed of objects and fragments suspended in vertical threads, and Low-level clouds (2019), together with the room layout, indicate the trail of a human presence, ephemeral and inconstant, much like the tide is.

Vasco Barata turns Cinzeiro 8 into a semi-detached refuge. Perhaps a cave by the sea, where spoils are collected. What we see are fragments of an urban reality without meaning, that arrives little by little. There are only unexpected solutions left – The Small Reign (2019), where the black fabric printed and suspended makes it possible to see and clouds – and unusual associations – in the photographs Clarity (slow learner) (2019), which show Lego pieces connected to other materials, creating a game of impossibilities, given that the vaguely architectural structures are destroyed by informal masses.

In Dreamers never learn, according to Carolina Grau’s text, Vasco Barata talks about issues associated with capitalism, real estate speculation, borders and immigration waves. But, despite the obvious search for structures (potentially habitable spaces), in all the different mediums he uses, the artist reveals mainly one or several places abandoned or under construction – probably both, in a perpetual movement. The exhibition itself is only revealed to us in this oscillation: caused by seawater, which has temporarily retreated, allowing a discovery.

Curiously, the social themes seem distant from the interior of the shelter/refuge that Barata reveals. After all, perhaps this is the oneiric place that is announced at the beginning: the place of dreamers who reject the real world, who flee, but observe in the distance. Possibly from a cave, they propose to experiment and remix the fragments that arrive from the mainland.

Dreamers never learn (tidal) at MAAT (Central Tejo) until January 27, 2020.

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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