Contra-Parede; confrontation and subversion

The walls hide, conceal, protect. They interrupt legs and eyes. But they are privileged spaces for the mouth when they are not that mouth.

In Contra-Parede, an exhibition at Palácio da Galeria, Tavira, the works of Ana Vidigal (Lisbon, 1960), Nuno Nunes-Ferreira (Lisbon, 1976) and Pedro Gomes (Mozambique, 1972) are in dialogue with each other. At the centre of the discussion is the wall, which, as Hugo Dinis says, “questions the architectural space where the works are presented”.

In the exhibition’s first room, we find is a site-specific installation by Ana Vidigal, entitled De tesoura ou tesouro. Three gutted parasols are placed on the walls and another, closed and leaning vertically, point to the idea of roof, cover or shelter.

Reduced to circular fabric, and placed on the walls like skirts, the parasols lose the possibility of becoming a momentary or temporary shelter, but they still point to the house realm. The title itself refers to four gable roofs, which characterise Tavira’s civil architecture and place the city in the so-called “Age of Discoveries”. Tavira’s navigators were particularly important in ocean voyages and the treasured roofs prove this.

In the fabric’s interior void, there is a sentence written in pencil, which reveals the previous existence of the wall and allows another interpretation. The building’s past in relation to the parasol and the leisure business brings heritage and its questions of function and identity into confrontation, in addition to the tourist industry.

In O calor dos fornos afaga os corpos, the structure of a roofless parasol associated with bricks, intervened with clay manufactured in Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, makes us reflect on architecture and the concept of house. Without a roof, is the house still a house?

With humour and irony, Ana Vidigal reflects on identity and architecture, associating the bricks and tiles, made in Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, to the magazine pages where cardboard moulds were offered to build Algarve or Alentejo houses. However, the idea of the regional house, with the characteristics of each territory, coexists with stickers of Hollywood actors.

In Nuno Nunes-Ferreira’s work, the wall is a support for the word, displaying dozens of pages from newspapers of the Carnation Revolution period.

At some moments, the passe-partout is used to select words or phrases, hiding the remaining page. In this game between highlighted phrases and entire newspaper covers, an interplay between the individual and the collective is established.

The fall of the Estado Novo’s silence is evident. The newspapers appear on the walls like cries, in an affirmative exuberance. The free mouth. The defence of previously censored ideas and convictions becomes deafening and sometimes we lose track, given the amount of information and the string of words.

In Abate da frota pesqueira, the tension of the archived word is in the bureaucratic wall that the artist illustrates with boxes and dossiers from the National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish. They are like bricks of that building erected in the construction of the res publica, between the people, the State, and the institutions.

The restrained word gives way to a deaf block. A mouth with a stone’s rigidity and immobility.

Pedro Gomes uses drawings on carbon paper and acrylic on paper to suggest a discourse on architectural space based on its reflection. His works cover the walls as if the drawing were done directly on them. Wallpaper or a second skin on which are recorded the lines of an existence that is not its own, but an interpretation of what historical museum devices have been.

Contra-Parede, by Ana Vidigal, Nuno Nunes-Ferreira and Pedro Gomes, can be visited until July 10, at Palácio da Galeria, Tavira.

Salvador Santos (Chaves, 1979). He has lived in Algarve since he was four years old. He attended the Portuguese Studies course at the University of Algarve. He has been collaborating in the regional press: founder and director of the art and literature supplement Cultura .S at Postal do Algarve and editor at Sul, Sol e Sal. He is the author of the poetry book Selvagem – to be published by D. Quixote.

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