Um tempo sem medida, by Carlos Mensil

The exhibition Um tempo sem medida by Carlos Mensil is open until November 7 at NO·NO, in Lisbon. With three works, the artist explores the movement as a plastic expression and, as the title implies, questions about the experience of time.

All parts have one common element: the engine. From one side to the other, in circles or in a circumscribed path – something moves several times, creating a difference or not. The viewer looks, already knowing the result, but nonetheless hypnotized by the possibility that something will change. In the blink of an eye, in the present instant, the object (which also looks at us) gains consciousness and creates its path. There is something magical that is expelled, as suggested by Catarina Real’s introductory text. The structure is certainly the machine, small instruments that work together with only one goal: to function. But Carlos’ work is not tied to machine-movement operation, his gesture of shaping time. After all, there is no movement without time. It is open to or, rather, merged into an eloquent experience of an empty time.

On the first floor of the gallery, there are two pieces in dialogue. Rotina consists of a rectangular and narrow wooden structure suspended from the ceiling. On the ceiling, we see the swinging engine, where a metal ball slides in contact with the wood. Its movement is delimited by a magnet placed on the structure, which prevents it from extrapolating the length of the wood. The title of the piece communicates what we see, an endless back and forth. In the following piece, No Vazio #4, three circles are drawn from the movement of twelve magnets, four in each circle, on a white surface. The motor defines the movement again, but it leaves a trace here. The repetition creates the difference. The drawing changes every instant when the magnets move through space. The choreography in ritornello exposes a territory – the circle is now a division and delimits a space, a border, inside and outside. Present time and the memory of the past coexist in circles – one inside the other.

The third work, entitled Buraco, placed on the stairs towards the lower floor, again uses the engine to produce a continuous movement. In this case, an elastic slides between pulleys, drawing a geometric shape similar to speech balloons that we see in the comics. The elastic is coated with black and transparent rubber tubes, causing some visual confusion due to the absence and presence of moving colour. It’s as if we blink faster than usual. Here lies the speed of the observer’s gaze and the speed of what is observed. In the introductory text, Catarina writes: “finally, the most relevant. Understanding the signs. In the light :: evidence & understanding the signs. In the shadows :: intelligence”. Perhaps the understanding “the signs” will eventually arise through the exact combination of the two velocities: that of the observer and that of the observed piece.

One of the most common representations of time (in the West) is that of chronological time. The term “chronological” is derived from the Greek Khronos. Khronos refers to the sequential time, which can be measured, associated with the linear movement of worldly things, with a beginning and an end. In Um tempo sem medida, Charles uses kinetics as an invitation to other possibilities of time perception to offer us the experience of an expanded present. In constant repetition, the works create a vacuum between the past and the future. If we are attentive, we inhabit there for a moment.

Maíra Botelho (1991, Brazil) has a multidisciplinary education within the fields of visual communication, arts, philosophy and performance. She worked as a graphic designer in Brazil after graduating at PUC-MG, having also studied arts at Escola Guignard – UEMG and at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade de Lisboa. She recently finished a Post-graduation in Aesthetics – Philosophy at Nova Universidade de Lisboa.

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