Place of the present time and the dreamed life: Lieu de Vie, by Zé Ardisson

The latest exhibition by artist Zé Ardisson, on view at Lado B of the Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery, materializes the critical desire of the current global scenario, underlining socio-political aspects and highlighting personal experiences and memories. The premise of this show is the following question: “After all, what is the place of life?”, found in the text by Carolina Trigueiros that accompanies the exhibited pieces. Using the title Lieu de Vie (which can be translated as “place of life”), an interpretative formula of the installed pieces is presented as a speculative means of the future, through measurable observations of space as a place close to hope and refuge.

By basing his artistic gestures on repetition, the artist traces a labyrinthine map, present in each point, line and mesh. Each movement necessary to attach the plastic armbands, interconnect the pins and sew the fabrics presents an imminent cadence in its entirety. The rhythmic properties, not only of the material, but of the image of a chain linking all the stitches throughout the exhibition, accompany us with the written motto, which sounds, almost unconsciously, Sem Medo, Sem Medo, Sem Medo, like a heartbeat throbbing in the ear.

The rhythm remains not only in the place of the present time, but also in the dreamed place of life, a palimpsest with memories, experiences and dreams, materialized in the displayed objects. They are vestiges of an event or memory of a place. They show their previous use, with the wear and patching of fabric or grease stains. Cut sleeping bags (Roots), hanging sleeping bags (United Like the Fingers of the Hand) or sleeping bags made from a net of pins (Fisherman Sleeping Bag) explore three different possibilities of a story’s beginning. The narrative’s development is left to the imagination of each person. However, the artist calls, through the written word, Acordai, Acordai, Acordai, for individual awareness of the need to “rethink our place in the world”. This order is also implied in the house of Mama’s Boy, outlined by zippers that evoke the gesture of opening and closing, undoing and redoing, according to the exhibition’s coordinates.

The use of domestic objects and the constant presence of an ideal of a “place of life” make evident the symbolism of their use, a criticism that expands on the initial premise, reflecting deeply on present times. In the materials used, we reencounter a dichotomy between objects that guarantee comfort, such as the sleeping bag, and overlapped constructions that emphasize the idea of oppressive discomfort, such as pins and the plastic armband chain, preventing their normal use. In this re-evaluation of the global lieu de vie, Zé Ardisson comments on the “typologies of living”, faded between hostility and contemporary precariousness.

Zé Ardisson’s exhibition Lieu de Vie can be visited until 20 January 2021 at Lado B of the Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery.

With a background in Arts and Humanities (Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, 2018) is a public programer and an independent curator in contemporary art. Currently, she is taking a Master in Fine Arts in Curating from Goldsmiths University of London while dedicating her research to non-conventional exhibition spaces and alternative curating methodologies. (portrait by Hugo Cubo, 2020)

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