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A Third Reason and Clavier à Lumières: Alexandre Estrela and Igor Jesus at Rialto6

A Third Reason and Clavier à Lumières are the recent shows at Rialto6. These two solo exhibitions by Alexandre Estrela and Igor Jesus bring together a group of audiovisual installations that transform the exhibition room into a sensory experience, stimulating the limits of the spectator’s perception.

On a silkscreened glass, practically the height of a human body, we see a symbolist illustration that the artist Jean Delville created for the cover of the score Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910) by composer Alexander Scriabin. Igor Jesus adds sound qualities to this image that, through a strobe light, moves at an intense pace creating an almost hallucinatory experience, intensified by the power of the sound that can be heard at the entrance of the gallery.

On the ground floor, and with the toasty yellow of Poem of Fire still vibrating in our vision, we are absorbed by another sound and image. In Water-Hole, Igor Jesus uses the image of the album 53º Norte by Setaoc Mass and uses a system to capture lunar signals, mediated by an analog modular synthesizer. Here hidden sounds are displayed through the luminous variations that the image produces. The process of solarization of the image and the rhythmic oscillation between its negative and positive works like a kind of magnet in the viewer’s body, as if the projection were a magnetic visual field. Curated by Naxto Checa, Clavier à Lumières triggers a synesthetic experience, revealing what is hidden in the sounds and images.

At the entrance of the upper floor room, we see a booklet-like item, where we can read infinite possibilities of the poem When I Was Young (2001) by Genesis P-Orridge, now rewritten by a text generator with Artificial Intelligence (AI). This book by Alexandre Estrela gives its name to the exhibition A Third Reason. In its pages, the poem’s meaning is shifted. For instance, “Now I’ve grown up, and there’s a third reason…” becomes “Now I’ve grown young, and there’s a third reason…”. The book unfolds inside the room, towards the homonymous installation, composed of two alternately activated videos. In these two suspended projections, Alexandre Estrela invokes The Library of Babel by using a portrait of its author Jorge Luis Borges. Almost ghostly, this portrait moves vertically to the sound of Genesis P-Orridge, who recites the poem When I Was Young. The different speeds of this image, as well as its composition, create infinite geometric patterns and luminous variations in the viewer’s eyes, producing a mesmerizing effect. During the sequence, the sound (generated in real-time by AI) inverts and fractionates, changing again the meaning of the poem, as it happens in the book at the entrance of the room.

One after the other, the two projections are deactivated and a thunderous sound by Gabriel Ferrandini begins, which resurrects the third piece by Estrela: Ruin Marble (2020). One of the quirks of this work is the large horizontal screen of irregular shape where it is screened, allowing the video to acquire an extra dimension. Influenced by the French sociologist Roger Caillois and his book The Writing of Stones (1970), Estrela photographs with different zooms a stone from her collection of bibelots, similar to the Paesina Stone, known for revealing extraordinary ruined landscapes on its slates. The different images produced are superimposed and each horizontal overlap is marked by the sound of Ferrandini’s drums, adding an enormous weight to the image. If, on the one hand, A Third Reason (2020) marks a sliding and infinite vertical movement, Ruin Marble (2020) adds another dimension to this room. Together they create an atmosphere composed of paradoxes and infinite realities.

The darkness that invades the gallery is emphasised by the light outside it. These two exhibitions act directly on the gallery edges, raising uncertainty about the limits of the exhibition space. Alexandre Estrela and Igor Jesus, even separately, seem to work the occult and the infinite.

Third Reason by Alexandre Estrela and Clavier à Lumiéres by Igor Jesus are at Rialto6 until January 14, 2022.

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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