A Corrida – Interview with Luísa Abreu at Galeria Sala 117
About Luísa Abreu’s most recent solo exhibition A Corrida, available until August 1 2020, at Galeria Sala 117, in Porto, with the catalogue release scheduled for July 25, we interviewed the artist at the gallery.
Ana Martins – A Corrida distinguishes itself by fully appropriating the exhibition space. It is a total work of art, following the principle of Gesamtkunstwerk by Richard Wagner. How did the project come about and how did you create the drawing, the atmosphere and its form?
Luísa Abreu – The idea of creating an immersive space in the visitor’s experience happened because I had the opportunity to do an individual exhibition. A Corrida was born from a previous work process, which, in the studio, was transforming and relating itself profusely with the territory, maps and ramifications, emerging during my master’s period in Caldas da Rainha. Later, I made a solo exhibition in this gallery, also about the idea of movement and acceleration, entitled Foge em grupo porque assim se foge melhor. In this project, I return to the idea of movement.
This interplay came about because I made several pieces with marking cones, signal flags, stairs leading anywhere. There was a sense of an often-failed dislocation, in a seemingly playful space. This depended on the location of the pieces, which strategically had an almost didactic notion.
The concept of plural was always something that interested me, fitting in with my studio exercise, where all ideas can be mixed in the whirl of artistic production. This enables everything to be overlaid, sometimes accidentally. There can be mistakes, which eventually may be used later on. The exhibition was thought as a whole for this space, to be seen in an immersive way, with my own working environment. It’s like the apex of all my references.
AM – The walls of the exhibition space are like a chessboard, where we see elements of various games. What is Luísa’s relationship with the idea of competition or even playing?
LA – The definition of game is wide and contradictory. None is specifically presented here, there are several at the same time, like chess, dice, or Snakes and Ladders. The game was a visual and conceptual idea, related to following or breaking rules, winning or losing, victory or defeat. The studio work is also like that, as we dive totally into a free space, where breaking the rules is part of the process. I practised dancing for a long time and returned to it recently, which allowed me to reflect again on movement, the limits of the body, the challenge of taking a different risk and the pressure when we have to achieve something new with artistic production. A Corrida is a journey, where we jump between different pieces, which never have a very specific position.
AM – The exhibition title implies an idea of escape and movement, but also of effort and tiredness. How did it come about?
LA – The name has several reasons. One of them has to do with the resistance I feel, necessary to be an artist, and the idea of race, competition and goal to achieve. It’s about questioning our path, our artistic practice, and how we overcome the difficulties and obstacles that arise when we try to achieve our goals.
AM – In the exhibition, we identify an idea of a map or territory, but in fragments, a conception of time in acceleration. Isn’t A Corrida a metaphor for a rhythm of life and for a contemporaneity where we run against time and try to achieve our goals, accepting victories and defeats?
LA – I notice that the exhibition is deeply related to the way I see everything that happens around me. It’s about the speed of reasoning, the resistance of our daily lives and not being able to slow down. A Corrida turned out to be a continuum work, because I transposed it from my studio to the gallery, like a game, where I had to make choices, to arrange the pieces on that giant board. I wanted the viewers to feel like they are entering my idea production space, no matter how confusing or accidental it is. It was this dive that I wanted them to take as if they were playing and entering another reality, that there was this plunge into the exhibition space.