Not Down in any Map

The most extraordinary journey in the history of the arts took place in the imagination of a writer: at the age of 36, Jules Verne published Journey to the Centre of the Earth, without ever having visited the site of the story, Iceland. In relation to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the author’s biography does not mention that Verne had ever experienced a similar adventure to then print it on paper. In fact, it is likely that during the edition of Extraordinary Voyages – the compendium of works written by Jules Verne – the author’s great journey would have taken place only in his office, or at some desk of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, surrounded by books on geography and testimonies and experiences from others. The territories written and described by Verne existed in a diaphanous reality, the reality of dream or imagination, in what exists between fact and fiction – the reality of art. In art, what must be discovered by the subject is always more curious than what is already known. Speculation about the paths to follow, the places to experience, the images to capture always have a greater emotional charge the more physically absent we are from those speculations. In deprivation and absence, the story, the work and the tale are born. And, with the book in their hands, in the comfort of their home, in a small object that they leaf through with their fingers and gaze, the reader perceives a whole world existing in those words, full of atmospheres and images.

Sharing the idea that art is, by nature, the preferred medium for the representation of these worlds, the real and the imaginary, Not Down in any Map is an exhibition that, with few names and works, manages to show the various arrangements that travels, territories, worlds and places can have in art. Between fact and fiction, construction and deconstruction, text, context and image, places are analysed for their magical, symbolic, authentic character and even – or above all – for what they have from a politically relevant standpoint.

Luísa Jacinto opens windows to mental spaces, drawn by mists and translucent cloaks. The small and large-scale works are dubious constructions, which exist at the limit of consciousness and unconsciousness. They are places that exist in an uncertain mental state, eventually sedated, but full of rich atmospheres.

In Marco Pires, it is evident the transference of the signs and meanings of geographical tools to the artistic plane. The objects, the graphite, assume themselves as maps, because they present elements similar to identifiable codes. The represented territory is not always the real territory, because the representation often does not have phenomenological information, or one that derives from a study of an experience, often precluded by logic reductionism.

The coexistence of species in the same place, sometimes peaceful, sometimes unbearable and comical, is revealed by Hugo Brazão. The rat shares the same dwelling as man, it has travelled with him for centuries and millennia on sea voyages, and yet its presence remains unbearable.

Regarding the affectivity of the places, but also the idea of remembrance, Nuno Henrique designs several topographic mock-ups that can be kept in small boxes and transported with ease. The physical weight of a territory is replaced by the symbolic weight it carries.

Finally, in Joanna Piotrowska, we do not have abstract places, but portraits of individuals in the spaces they inhabit, full of identity and idiosyncrasies, suggesting that inhabitant and habitation are symbiotic entities, where one is the psychological mirror of the other.

Curated by Joana Valsassina and Leonor Carrilho, Not Down in any Map is the first exhibition of the TAG Gallery and ends on February 22.

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.

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