Terror and seduction by Teresa Milheiro

The irresistible allure of violence instigation

Graceful and elegant objects, designed with a refined ergonomic sense, gently fierce. They are works of fine workmanship, created with rigorous care for the most subtle details, manipulating, shaping and joining shapes in glass, lacquered, chromed or brushed metals, and other recognisable instruments, collected from the operating theatre, where the human body is the subject of cutting and invasion. A syringe that will pierce the skull, lenses that will pierce the eyes, a prosthesis that will grow out of the shoulder, a spike that will stick into the nostril, tweezers that will bite into the flesh. The punishment of the body, in a way invoking medieval torture as punishment and prevention of the ideas and actions of those considered criminals or revolutionaries according to a certain belief system.

They are neither symbols nor a represented reality. They are fully threatening visual objects, truly bound to the realism of their formal literality and the recognition of the purpose to which they are intended.

The Fear Addicts project highlights Teresa Milheiro‘s remarkable ability to stir the most primal emotions, anxiety, fear, and, as in a suspense and horror movie, that chills and shocks, but from which one does not look away; to manipulate a sense of time, by anticipating a fatal and merciless future, whose latency is so effective that it almost consumes itself in an impending present.

Since the beginning of her career, when creating each of her pieces – objectewellery, as she has called them in the past, and that followed the bio-jewels, in which she used bones and teeth – Teresa Milheiro explores the formal potential of a plastic field of experimentation free from restrictions, in which what is born to never be simply an adornment or a prop is accomplished as a multidisciplinary artistic work, a sculpture applied to the human body, intentionally conceived under a performative design, documented in photography. It is, above all, the outburst of a personality and a way of thinking about the world outside the box and apart from the standard – the only way she can imagine herself–, leaning on themes that express the corrosion of the most essential human values.

Set in three locations, Fear Addicts turns on fear as a powerful instrument of control, permanent surveillance, and the illusion of security, freedoms and rights, holding that pure seduction of disturbance, of brutal awe.

The installation Obsessive Controlling Tools and Tools for Intimacy and Social Distance Security and the piece One Way System II will be presented at Espaço Camões of Livraria Sá da Costa from September 16. They are the players that command and control, ghostly figures that pursue and annihilate thought and will, spy eyes that suffocate breathing and police ideas. They are also the instruments of punishment, tweezers that bite the body and sanitise relationships, the sharp, penetrating needle in judgment. Very dangerous weapons, and at the same time so tempting, at hand, ornaments inviting even to be wielded. Who does the one who is tempted become?

The work One Way System I and the window-project Spy On are exhibited at the Jewelry Room’s Galeria Alice Floriano and at Galeria Reverso, in the context of the 1st International Biennale of Contemporary Jewellery in Lisbon. In the first case, the imprisonment of the mind is doubly executed, an absolutist unique sense, in which the gaze only resonates a thought previously injected by the lethal substance. In the second case, it is the gaze itself that wounds the body of the patroller, which, again, does not fail to alert to the critical questioning of any gaze cast upon the other, which includes the gaze itself.

Thus, the appearance of the literality of the plastic form is exceeded by a discursive intentionality as manifest and ambiguous as what proceeds it. Fear Addicts is instigated by the penetration into the world of single visions without contradiction, and evokes problematics of apathy and alienation. Paradoxal, because it criticizes the outer world, but not ceasing to raise a gaze turned to the inner world, transfiguring itself into a speculative field and a field of social participation.

It is, after all, the ignition of this question that hovers over, or manoeuvres under, Fear Addicts.


Ricardo Escarduça

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