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Galeria Zé dos Bois: Dreams of Dreams

Galeria Zé dos Bois opened three new exhibitions, propelled by the cultural venues’ reopening.

The artists Patrícia Almeida, Fala Mariam and AnaMary Bilbao, with their aesthetics, create a set of dreams, with different protagonists, interpolating various sensorial impressions. The oneiric dimension is unique, a personal way of telling a story. Most of these subconscious events are forgotten upon awakening. However, in these three examples of artistic representation, it is possible to imagine the presence of the memory of what remained in the form of instants.

This hazy reality is the starting point of the photographs of Patrícia Almeida’s ALL-U-NEED. This sensation, like a sidereal expansion, walks towards the remaining rooms in an uncomfortable lightness. This perception, materialised in the expression “daydreaming”, characterises my visit to Galeria Zé dos Bois, which I deconstruct in a journey starting at the upper floor.

Each object by Patrícia Almeida encountered during the visit is suspended in a continuous zoom-in, like fixed reminders of images that should not be forgotten. This installation creates a network of connections between each presence, leaving the narrative connections to other possible spatial and temporal dimensions to each person’s discretion. A pink orchid, strategically supported on the same aesthetic level as a stone statue, some high heels, a disco, a cloud of smoke, broken glass. Who dictates the value of each form but the dreamers themselves?

In the next room, also with photographs by Patrícia Almeida, I find a sequence of broken frames, showing the routine of a team in a lab: they operate machines, regulating and switching them off. In a typical scene of a sci-fi film, a group of men dressed in lab coats work to maintain the balance and proper functioning of all the devices. The presence of the human body and its scale in comparison with the surrounding place seems too obvious. In a space as sterile and clean as a laboratory, the heat transmitted by the presence of the workers is odd. With these two elements on different planes, we can think about the place of the human as a dispensable element in relation to technology. Therein lies the critique of labour values and working conditions, the devaluation of wages and contempt for workforce.

After descending the stairs, Fala Mariam’s Pintura-Pintura works are the hyperbole of the superficial dream. Through the haze, aesthetic codes become clear as they are repeated throughout the canvases. Her unrecognisable objects can take on different meanings for each viewer. They make me think of beach days when, lying on the sand, I sense the limbo of sleep with my eyelids closed. I see the ovoid and the dashed lines passing almost as if swept away by a current. The colours emerge with increasing numbness and the scene is accompanied by soft music and echoing narration. This imponderability is transmitted in the artist’s technique, composed of superimpositions and transparencies, attracting mysticism in the clouds and landscapes that break free from abstraction. Returning from my tour of the back rooms, I notice Um espelho para Kozyrev, a sea creature, a being of dark space, who with one eye only follows my every move. This painting, which is distinctive for its distant coldness, bridges the gap to the final installation.

When I arrive at the bookshop, I see, among the shelves, on a wine-coloured wall, the spectra of AnaMary Bilbao: Apologia da Floresta e Outras Impressões. The printing on black paper of the two pieces was the culmination, the unexpected appearance of the undesirable side of dreams. A direct confrontation with something inexplicable, nightmares wrapped in an opaque veil where one can only recognise a few luminous spots that overlap the unknown darkness. The artist presents an austere signage, giving the space a suppressive authority. As the text indicates, they are the product of human action that has left a trace after its passage, with no foreseen return. Bipartite, the presence of these two bodies acts on the idea of distance and proximity, recognition and indifference.

In this helpless end, where any explanation crumbles down, I search in the books that surround me for some distraction or another narrative for the dream, only to climb back up the stairs to the terrace and tell what I have just seen.

Until June 5, at Galeria Zé dos Bois, in Lisbon.

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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