Ponto Sem Retorno

In the beginning was the verb[1], the telluric meaning unfolded in the memories of the body: the smell of bread, the natural fermentation of the grain that feeds the landscape and the landscape that feeds the bread. One is born of the other and its reciprocity lies in the symbiosis of the mutual exchanges between the earth and man[2].

In the age of simulation, the bond persists in place, in the human being who, by planting and reaping, by placing the seed and taking care of it, also becomes arkhē[3], part of the active principle of the cycle of matter. In sculpture, the awareness of the human arkhē is a choice that is translated into gestures. Perhaps, for this reason, the artist, by moistening the earth with his hands, by harvesting the cereals from the leavened dough, by baking and kneading the bread, introduces in his process a succession of gestures that refer to the place.

In 1993[4], when I was ten years old, I entered an exhibition room where there was a large loaf of bread. At the height of my nose, the baked bread fed me the imaginary palate of a landscape of Alentejo. The protuberances of the dough and the ochre palettes stretched over several metres. From the heart of the bread a tree was born, a branch picked by the artist, metamorphosed on infinite scales in my childhood imagination. Around this sculpture there were seven bronze doughs, seven loaves of bread with the sprues[5] visible. Like the tree from the central bread, they were born from the core of the molten dough.

In this work, the force of fire was the Promethean premise that told us that bread and bronze persist in humans through technique. However, technical dazzle is not superimposed on the artist’s work. In Jorge Camões, sculptures intersect anachronistically. And now, just as in 1993, there is an ethical position before the relationship between the human being and nature.

The exhibition Ponto sem Retorno (December 10, 2020 – January 3, 2021, Sala Azul of the National Museum of Natural History and Science, curated by Sofia Marçal) takes us back to Anthropocene, the most recent period in the history of the Earth. As the name suggests, it concerns the effects of human activity on biodiversity, climate, watercourses or even the geological structures of the planet. However, Camões’ sculptures, instead of provoking a definitive reading of the world, present us with the telluric sense with which we began this reflection. From the relationship with the place comes the sign of shelter: a wooden house, a boat, a nest, a permeable net that protects and reveals. The sign is oneiric and, like the child in me who saw the tree growing and metamorphosing in the centre of the landscape, my adult eyes find, in Camões’ work, a cohabitation still possible between the human being and nature.


[1] Reference to the cosmic thought in the first chapter of John’s Gospel about the narrative of the creation of the world;

[2] Reference to the Cante Alentejano AlentejoSobre a simbiose das trocas mútuas entre a terra e o homem – Choral Group ‘Os Ceifeiros de Cuba’, 1933 Constitution, Cuba, City Hall of Cuba, 2007 Register;

[3] Arkhē – pre-Socratic active principle, from where the beings come and to where they shall return, and that infinitely compose all forms of matter. To deepen this subject, the following reading is suggested: BRUN, Jean, Les présocratiques.

[4] Solo exhibition of Jorge Camões, Sete Caixas e uma Mesa, 1993, Galeria Novo Século;

[5] Sprue – a tube that takes the molten metal into the mould.

Margarida Alves (Lisbon, 1983). Artist, PhD student in Fine Arts (FBAUL). Researcher by the University of Lisbon. Degree in Sculpture (FBAUL, 2012), Master in Art and Glass Science (FCTUNL & FBAUL, 2015), Degree in Civil Engineering (FCTUNL, 2005). She is a resident artist in the collective Atelier Concorde. Collaborates with national and foreign artists. Her work has an interdisciplinary character and focuses on themes associated with origin, otherness, and historical, scientific and philosophical constructions of reality.

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