“And it’s as if I’ve suddenly reached the bottom of the end, back to the beginning”. Trauma Response – group exhibition

As I started reading the exhibition leaflet, I was reminded of the song De volta ao começo by the epic Gal Costa, from the 1984 album Profana. Gal sings:

“And it’s as if I awoke from a dream

That kept me from living

And life exploded in my chest

With colours that I hadn’t dreamt of

And it’s as if I discovered

That the strength has been in me all along

And it’s as if I’ve suddenly

Reached the bottom of the end

Back to the beginning

Back to the beginning

To the bottom of the end

Back to the beginning”

Reaching the bottom of the end, back to the beginning. This seems to me to be one possible interpretation of the exhibition Trauma Response curated by Judith Hofer. Trauma – like an open wound – elicited by a violent, and often contingent, shock “shapes our world”, as Hofer cautiously states. The intimate and private realm, which is composed and recomposed, by the wreckage, parts, pieces, fragments, bits, and all the synonyms of the ruins, or even that which we consider History, familiar or as a threatened and surviving species called Man. The exhibited works made me reconsider the temporal side of consciousness. Or the reorientation of consciousness in the dimension of time. Or even the industrious awareness of that temporal side – past and future – as a response and attitude to live the Present despite the traumas that pass from generation to generation. The Present in its commemorative calling (!) Attitude: rewriting the past with an eye set on the future, creating fictions of the memories that survive in the survivors’ virtual atmospheres (Me, you, you and him).

The convergence of different aesthetic and reflexive approaches of the exhibited artists enhances a multi-sensorial and intricate path of a traumatic event and its resolution. The profuse emotion, as in the video Tantrum, by the duo MARIE ANTOINETTE, or in the cathartic installation O dentes que sobrou by Maria Máximo; the contemplation and transcendence in Passing, painting by Theodore Ereira-Guyer. Juliana Matsumura’s monotypes value surprise as the gratifying result of gesture, a posture required before the challenges of reconfigurations caused by traumatic eruptions. The two works in canvas by Filipe Cortez, The skin of the canvas and Untitled (Memory after Memory series) point to the traces in layers accumulated by time in their abstract quality. Yota Ayaan’s installation, (ESP) Response, composed of fungal matter in a state of development, and the screening of the film The Basket, a narrative that explores hypotheses of telepathy and perceptive faculties, triggers a conjuncture that is interesting to me: that of curiosity.

The video work Mueda 1979 | The Mozambique Archive Series by Catarina Simão focuses on the reproduction of a historical narrative, in this case an insurrection against Portuguese colonisation in Mozambique. I feel particularly struck by a scene in this work: the soldier asks Modesta (an excellent first name for the main character): “What is that you are carrying? She replies: it is manioc. Don’t you know what manioc is? Aren’t you Mozambicans?”. In this warmth that permeates me, I come close to what is part of my Beginning: manioc – fried, cooked, in soup, in escondidinho – Brazilian food with African roots. Nutrition and sustenance for past generations of my family and my experience of the present in constant elaboration, showing what has nourished and fructified me in my life here in Portugal. “Like the Jacarandá tree, that blooms twice a year in Portugal, in spring and again in autumn, when it is springs in its origin Brazil – we also can evolve and create something beautiful out of our traumata.” Hofer ends the leaflet piece with these words and I echo the deed.

The exhibition Trauma Response is at Duplex until 8 December 2021.

Maíra Botelho (1991, Brazil) has a multidisciplinary education within the fields of visual communication, arts, philosophy and performance. She worked as a graphic designer in Brazil after graduating at PUC-MG, having also studied arts at Escola Guignard – UEMG and at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade de Lisboa. She recently finished a Post-graduation in Aesthetics – Philosophy at Nova Universidade de Lisboa.

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