Archive of Destruction, by Pedro Lagoa

The first vision of destruction is that of a god.

Shiva is a polyhedral figure, with many, ambiguous, sometimes contradictory faces – at least apparently. Shiva dances eternally on the fire of creation; she dances eternally on the fire of destruction. In the rumbling of atomic and subatomic drums, which collide and explode, life succumbs and emerges again, under a new order, a different, syncopated rhythm, and time and space merge, confusing and fracturing each other. Shiva rises again and again to destroy and reconstruct them, from the beginning of the scriptures, from the beginning of the universal cell, from the first rumbling of atomic and subatomic drums, which collide and explode in waves and shocks.

Meanwhile, in another dimension, in another of those cosmogonic stories that feed the spirit and the imagination, Crius fucks Eurybia and both conceive the titanic Perses, god of destruction, father of Hecate, goddess of sorcery, necromancy, fire, light, everything that is obscure but no less passionate and magical.


The second vision of destruction is that of terror and religious terrorism.

The wrath shouted Allahu akbar and dressed in black. Flags, also black, flew in the arid landscapes of the Middle East, under the ruins of Palmira. Clouds of smoke rise in the distance, also black. Men with seraphic faces, their skin darkened by the sun and their beards also black and voluminous, demolish statues, columns, colonnades, porticos, temples and the remains of an extinct but not forgotten civilization. The statues were pushed by plinths and fell to the ground with the force of gravity, breaking up into loose pieces and, in time, scattered, wrapped up and withheld for the cultural traffic in the market… also black. Palmira, 2015.


The third vision of destruction is that of a man in charge.

Man orders, man commands, man obeys, with all his inherent uncritical and fearful banality. First are the raids, the objects confiscated from the owners in their homes, exposed in their betrayal of the ideological regime, expelled, imprisoned and killed. What was confiscated, especially books, many books – clandestine works, printed in the dim light of a stairwell, imported and smuggled from a neighbouring country, translated from a strange language , what was confiscated is piled uninterestedly in the street. 100, 200, 500 books piled up in damp and icy cobblestones, surrounded by silent and anguished faces, illuminated and contorted by the smell of burning kerosene. Fragments of pages fly in flames – phrases that are no longer to be read, some are left unread and others only survive in the memory of those who have read them. The rites of evil, of cultural purge – cultural genocide – were complete. Granada, 1499; Qin Shi Huang, 213 BC.


The tenth vision of destruction is that of nature indifferent to man.

The earth trembles under the horse’s legs, which until then trotted in the uncertain streets of Lisbon. Shaking the soldier he was carrying, dropping him violently on the ground, it began to gallop nervously. “Fuck this shit”, thought the horse. Behind it, the earth opened up, the buildings collapsed, the campanula and church bells shrieked in delirium, and people died before they could shout for their loved ones. Lisbon, 1755.


The twentieth vision of destruction is the politics of evil and socio-ethnic destruction.

He entered the field and worked until his body was a tenth of what it had been. He woke up and gathered in a room full of other prisoners, with children between the adults’ legs. The space was optimized with bodies, up to the ceiling. The last memory he took to his death was that of an insufferable stench.

In other resorts, Natasha would freeze to death because she hadn’t honoured the work.

Germany, 1933-1945; Soviet Union, 1932-1933.


The ultimate vision of destruction is the archive that destroys the assumptions of destruction itself.

Archive of Destruction is a constellation of images, excerpts, documents and files that portrays the paradox of archiving that which supposedly goes against its mnemonic and cultural, perennial and inalienable mission.

In this digital and cumulative archive, Pedro Lagoa goes through the different metaphors and outlines of destruction: from liberating destruction – a fatuous fire that ascends and remains in the air – to gratuitous and perfidious destruction perpetrated by man; from destruction by ideological action to cataclysmic and natural destruction. Between the lines of this document we see several failures: socialist utopias, communism, but also positivism and the belief that man is perfectible.

And if controlling an archive is having power over history and the various historical narratives, over the way one writes, what does it mean to hold power in an archive of destruction? Given the open and expansive form of the project, Lagoa shows how destruction is a phenomenon that concerns everyone, because we all keep in us the germ of destruction. To see this archive is to rediscover the limits of human will, for better and or worse – the utopia that is born and killed by neglect, laxity, arrogance or perfidy. Jacques Derrida said that “there is no political power, nor the control of the archive”. This project shows, even in the use of tendentially democratic digital technology, that we are in a situation of absolute power, in full ownership of this archive. In other words, we are in full ownership of our destruction. Claiming it could be an obstacle to a natural, cultural or social drive.

But Lagoa does not forget destruction as a creative act and its conceptual contribution to modern and contemporary art. The project also includes a disinterested historiography of art through destruction, with the experiences of Fluxus, the fire painting of Yves Klein, or the shift caused by noise in modern music, with the burnt vinyl of Milan Knízák or the sound environment Wave Terrain by Zbigniew Karkowski.

Archive of Destruction does not obey the taxonomic, cataloguing and bureaucratic ritual of the usual archives. Free from this compulsion and rigor, this archive opens doors to wandering and visual error. We lose ourselves in destructive successions and we lose ourselves in memory, between melancholy and incredulity, pessimism and optimism. From this perspective, Pedro Lagoa’s work is, from an emotional and poetic standpoint, much more effective than the architectural building and the procedural ritual that the archives and institutions understand. We can easily perceive the ambiguous relationship that man has with destruction, memory and forgetfulness, with man himself and nature, but also with the fetishization of the archive and its tropes.

Another vision of destruction: that which cannot be seen, which has no image, sound and text.

Archive of Destruction, by Pedro Lagoa, is a Culturgest commission, curated by Bruno Marchand. Open until September 30.

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. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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