Spectrum, at the CAV – Centro de Artes Visuais

Spectrum, curated by Ana Anacleto, is on exhibition at the CAV – Centro de Artes Visuais in Coimbra, until September 13, presenting a selection of works from over 2000 efforts resulting from the Encontros de Fotografia, an initiative conducted by CAV that is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. With contributions from more than 30 national and international artists, Spectrum is a reflection on one of the most recurrent themes in photographic and visual practice: the question of the spectrum.

Julian Barnes, in his book of art essays Keeping an Eye Open, states that “In all artistic expressions we find two things: the desire to do something new and an uninterrupted conversation with the past”. This is what happens in Spectrum as an artistic whole.

The more than 56 works on display (55 photographs and one drawing) present some academic and formal works, where portraits, landscapes and still life pieces are exhibited – longer and more recurrent motifs in photography. Photographs are also on display that point to a future and new place. It is a heterogeneous collection, which revisits and celebrates the past – after all, it is celebrating the four decades of the Encontros de Fotografia – while also winking at the future. An exercise of unique competence, the result of the experience and sensitivity of the curator Ana Anacleto.

Spectrum has four sub-nuclei. The last one is dedicated to the shadow-light encounter, the dichotomy of life-death and its cross readings. The representation – or presence – of sharp objects from mortuary spaces, such as the morgue, creates a dark atmosphere that provides at the same time a claustrophobic effect to the exhibition, in a sort of final stage. Curiously, this last moment converges in the only non-photographic piece of the exhibition: a diptych by Paulo Brighenti. Spectrum seems to substantiate one of the fundamental proposals of CAV: not to take photography as an end in itself, but as an intermediate step in a more holistic artistic practice.

With exceptional works by Nuno Cera, Wim Wenders, Edgar Martins and José Luís Neto and André Mérian, it is also worth mentioning the mature and original contribution of Debbie Fleming Caffery, as well as the gloomy, intriguing, and mysterious work of Edgar Martins.

As part of the cycle of exhibitions Museu das Obsessões, which has eight exhibitions during 2020, under the theme of the Spectrum, and another eight in 2021 under the theme Vertigo, Spectrum is an exhibition that presents an unusual photographic collection and a great archaeological exercise of the 40 years of history of the Encontros de Fotografia in Coimbra.

Diogo Graça (1997) lives and works between Lisbon and Barcelona. He studied Communication Sciences at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and studies Cinema at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. With a route that passes through places as diverse as Umbigo Magazine, Galeria Madragoa, SportTV and TVI, he finds his fifth floor in writing and audiovisuals, whether in the form of television scripts, articles on art or short stories.

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