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The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, by Diogo Bolota

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Diogo Bolota’s first solo exhibition at the UMA LULIK_ gallery has been inaugurated and will remain open until May 22. At first glance, when we enter the room, we are confronted with an installation composed of eight sculptures that seem distant from the artist’s work. However, as our eyes adjust to the purposeful low light, we discover the inherent connection to Bolota’s body of work.

The installation can be interpreted as an ensemble designed with the whole in mind. The materiality of the group sculptures fosters a narrative that we understand as individual when we see each piece. As Diogo states in his text, “Being” is not a “piece” but a whole, transmitting his constructive idea of space. There is something visceral in the act of discovering with every detail each part of the whole, as we enter the darkroom that looks like an experimental lab or similar. The dim light makes it difficult to characterise the room, only allowing the works to breathe.

In the centre is a bovine carcass, conveying the idea of the passage of time. How long has it been like this? How long will have been the life of the animal that now lies on the table to illustrate our fragile condition, where from dust we come and to dust we shall return? Although the objects represented are new in the artist’s exhibited works (taxidermy, animals, animal-like mutations), the theme of the human condition is shared by them. The question of ageing is also usually present through dentures and here it happens with the skeleton.

Around the centre, space is decorated with other animals, which impose the idea of dissection and decoding of the body – a fish, a frog, a bird. The gutted beasts are not full-scale. Otherwise, there would be something monstrous about a three-foot-long frog. But this size makes us feel fear and insecurity and, for the first time, we talk about death. The artist addresses the passage of time and states, but rarely death. There is a (fake) steak in the corner of the room, which talks to the cow carcass – two states, two mutations, one life and one death.

But, in this dismembered painting, there is a vibrant light, a beating, hidden heart, in a corner of the room that we only see at second glance. It’s the promise that tells us that, for there to be death, there must be life. Each of the sculptures represents a life, the passage of time that we do not control. If the title of the exhibition refers to the writer Henry Miller, often associated with an almost auto-biographical trait, we can understand the beating heart as the presence of the artist over the work.

Begin this moment, wherever you find yourself, and take no thought of the morrow. (…) Do your part to the best of your ability, regardless of the consequences.” Henry Miller, in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, is the motto of the show and life. We can only wait to see what Bolota will bring next.

Concluded the Bachelors in International Relations with a minor in Communication Sciences at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and an MA in Art Markets Management at ISCTE. Has been involved with varied cultural projects such as AZAN, ProjetoMAP and REDE art agency. Assisted the production of the exhibition ProjetoMAP 2010-2020 Map or Exhibition at Museu Coleção Berardo and produced the exhibition I WILL TAKE THE RISK at AZAN. Was involved in the publication of the book ProjetoMAP Map of Portugal’s Artists and contributes for publications such as GQ Portugal.

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