There’s more water entering the soil, by Inês Brites

“(…) We need magical materialism to show us, as Benjamin said quoting Surrealism, the impenetrable as the everyday and the everyday as impenetrable.”

Claire Fontaine, em Planetary Conversations

The exhibition There’s more water entering the soil by Inês Brites, at Galeria 3+1 in Lisbon, ends on 5 June 2021. The body of work exhibited is composed of sculptures inspired by discarded objects found by the artist. Brites is interested in the affective potential of utensils and a possible agency of these. Her practice raises questions about capitalist modes of production and consumption, asking us to reconsider the possibilities of a more attentive and sustainable encounter between humans and non-humans. With a proposal inspired by animism, the artist participates in the binary ontological debate between life/matter, man/animal, organic/inorganic.

While visiting the exhibition, the image of a Mermaid came to my mind. A female aquatic being, not excessively human or animal, who collects “things” foreign to her environment, re-signifying them. A look not subjected to planned obsolescence and the “paradigm of meaningless accumulation” that capitalism establishes. Obviously, these connections were made only later. In the first moment, the encounter with the works was somehow “wet”. Perhaps because of the title, I was led to this perception, or perhaps the pieces preserve a “watery imaginary”, as if they had been brought from the currents of the sea. The works, distributed over the two floors of the gallery, are replicas of objects used in everyday life: swimming equipment, oil heaters, bath towels, water bottles, different plastic containers, toothbrushes, combs, taps, mobile phones, fishing nets and others. There is a strangeness in recognising the objects – the shape is similar, but the material is unknown. The artist uses different raw materials: silicone, resin and paraffin are the most used, but others are also present. In Atlas das fragilidades, Brites emulates a fishing net using wool and beads, adding a feminine and cosy gesture to this capture device.

Sofia Lemos writes in the exhibition text – which floods our thoughts with its abstractive capacity: “Think of the devotion of a tap to the movement and passage of water, which in turn gives us something to drink and feeds the continuity of life, in an everlasting development”. This evocation gives voice to an agency intrinsic to materiality, absolving matter of its long history conditioned to automatism or mechanism. Janne Bennet, in her book Vibrant Matter, sets out a similar philosophical project. The philosopher explains her defence of the vitality of matter because she considers that the image of dead or completely instrumentalised matter feeds human arrogance and destructive fantasies of conquest and consumption. This conception would prevent us from detecting (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling) a wider range of “inhuman powers that circulate around and inside human bodies”. Powers that can help or destroy, enrich or disable, ennoble or degrade, but always demand our attention or even “respect”. There’s more water entering the soil conceives exactly that: attention and respect for the materiality that supports and maintains human life. A paradigm shift that points the way to a more harmonious life between human materiality and the materiality of things.

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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