Oculto e Sapatos: fica-se; chinelos: sai-se, at Projeto Travessa da Ermida

The exhibition Oculto by Nuno Sousa Vieira, at Travessa da Ermida, plays with the spectator’s gaze. The works, with a discreet interference, could be interpreted as visual observations on the space where they are found. But only if we accept that it is possible to construct exclusively plastic or visual comments. As in any observation, they are not protected against a shift or a notion of alterity that marks the space in the commentary between the one who does it and its target. In Nuno’s work, this distance is a determining element, as the artist is interested in the possible connection between the studio and the exhibition space, always building a mirroring arc between the place where it is made and the place where it is shown, attributing to each exhibition a context about the working process.

When we talk about playing, the main inversion in traditional Christian religious architecture is to make people believe, in the liturgy, that what happens in the choir is more important than what happens in the nave. But, whether we are believers or not, we agree that the narratives of each person in the nave are dramatic. If what fosters dynamics in religious life is the belief in the transcendent, then in art it is the belief in the immanent that stirs relationships. In the exhibition, Nuno interferes with the unavoidable spatial logic of architecture, tinkering with precision at some essential points. By transposing his transformed studio – almost unrecognisable if it were not for the evidence placed by the artist in the works – towards the hermitage, the two physical universes come together, and their functions, original or not, meet and debate as critical images. The game table is opened and the dice are rolled; thus, the works are supported in space so that the spectators can follow with their eyes not what they see, but the one which is related to what is observed. In the movement between what is looked at and what is seen, art establishes itself as a living space.

The (en)crypted ambiguity in the Interior/exterior diptych is fascinating, which, positioned to the left of the entrance to the old nave, seems to look through us to the supposedly hidden apse, or to some other place, keeping in its body the marks of the folds, or of its internal and complex dynamics. At the same time, the inverted door is intriguing, tarnished by time. It was removed from the factory’s dead archive room, where Nuno’s studio is located, to become part of the work Porta de homem, eternally supported on the old ironwork of the arch’s stonework, one that divides the old hermitage’s nave and choir.

The procedural side of Nuno Sousa Vieira’s exhibition exists simultaneously with De Porta a Porta, the other project of Travessa da Ermida. With an engraving by Daniel Fernandes, Sapatos: fica-se; chinelos: sai-se, the showcase for the project gives the viewer a work that attempts to display the traces of the work. With a title that also points to relationships between inside and outside, and inverting the normality of these everyday objects that are present as an idea, Daniel’s monotype is the consequence of an attempt to exhaust the creative process. But the search for that limit does not intend to explore the technical boundaries of the work, to reach a specific form of excellence; on the contrary, it wants to drain itself in exhaustion, to rediscover what will come after, the power of a unique body that is the work under a constant processing by the artist. Here, the stumble, the mistake or the failure are values in themselves, pointing out new paths to surprisingly rediscover the pleasure of the image.

Oculto by Nuno Sousa Vieira, and Sapatos: fica-se; chinelos: sai-se by Daniel Fernandes are on show at Projeto Travessa da Ermida, Lisbon. The first until July 17, 2021 and the second until September 4, 2021.

Curator. Currently living in Lisbon. Master in Letters from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), he is currently pursuing a PhD in Contemporary Art at Colégio das Artes, at the University of Coimbra. At the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, he was responsible for the Sculpture, African Art and New Languages collections, as well as being involved in various curatorial projects.

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