Rehearsal for a community at Central Tejo
In the spacious industrial spot of Central Tejo, we find an “exhibition-installation”1 on the EDP Foundation Portuguese Art Collection, whose chronology begins in the 1940s and lasts until today.
The exhibition has hundreds of works in four thematic groups – work, sound, word and laziness. But the reading is not stagnant and the themes are mixed. The visitor’s body is invited to participate in a performance with several interpretations.
The “set and theatrical side of the assemblage”2 is reinforced by the words of Gonçalo M. Tavares and the musical composition of José Valente, a double layer that works as the common thread of the Foundation’s works.
In Joshua e o Trabalho, the blacksmith handles fire, an element that “alters the shape of things (…) melts the strength of materials and allows them to change.”3 Fire and work are articulated with the memory of the inside space of Lisbon’s old thermoelectric power station. In this exhibition’s first nucleus, the artistic works invite us to reflect on the theme. For example, the photograph Central do Lindoso: Sala do Comando (vista frontal) (2011) by Edgar Martins; the oil painting Os Homens do Fogo (1942) by Luís Dourdil; or the reference to the utopia of a work never materialized and representative of a revolution in Monumento a Tatlin numa cozinha suburbana 2 (2009) by Rodrigo Oliveira.
In the second nucleus, Martha e o Som interconnect through a violin’s spectre, “in the memory that plays furiously inside a skull, as if someone had told a fanatical musician that he only has two minutes left to live and two minutes to play his instrument.”4 In Martha’s head and heart, the sound is more intense than the images.
As in the first nucleus, the works dialogue with the theme: a silent and broken cello-sculpture Sem Título (2012) by João Ferro Martins, two side-by-side photographs of a group of Portuguese friends/folk group, whose names seem to be children of emigrants Jeffrey Portal, Mónica Seguro, Caroline Ferreira, Jonathan Seguro (2009), work by Margarida Correia, or a photograph by Eduardo Gageiro taken of Amália Rodrigues in Lisbon (1971).
In the third nucleus is Rhann e a Palavra, the feverish delirium and mirage of a desert where “amid yellow monotony, bright words appear”5. In the works displayed, we highlight the visual poetry of Ana Hatherly (1997), the letters of the colonial war that augment their scale in a photograph by Nuno Nunes-Ferreira (2015), and yet again Eduardo Gageiro’s lens under Sophia de Mello Breyner’s place of writing (1964).
On Central Tejo’s lower floor, Kross e a Preguiça are the motto of the exhibition’s fourth nucleus. We dive into the year 2020 and Kross’s mother is dying in hospital, a death without touch as “Touch leads to prison”6. Kross imagines his shadow leaning over his mother’s face as his “shadow can touch everything and everyone.”7 In the silence of the inhabited space, the memories of laziness emerge, of the times of “human traffic break”8, of the hotel where he worked before he was unemployed. In this last nucleus of the exhibition, the right to lust, to laziness, to the memory that inhabits us is evoked: among the works is the eroticism of four paintings Primavera, Verão, Outono, Inverno (2000) by the artist Rosa Carvalho. At the end of the exhibition, leisure in community is found in the work The Big Red Puff Sound Site (1994) by João Paulo Feliciano.
We recall the four thematic groups through Gonçalo M. Tavares: Joshua e o Trabalho, Martha e o Som, Rhann e a Palavra, Kross e a Preguiça.
Joshua is the dead father of Martha and Kross. Rhann is Martha’s ex-boyfriend. The four are separated in space and time. Yet the artistic works are blended, inviting us to return, to reference new works, to partake in multiple wanderings.
Rehearsal for a community — Portrait of a collection under construction (take 1) is curated by Paulo Mendes and is on show until January 2022 at MAAT‘s Central Tejo.
1, 2 – Excerpts taken from the exhibition information board;
3 – Excerpt taken from Joshua e o Trabalho by Gonçalo M. Tavares, text conceived for the exhibition;
4 – Excerpt taken from Martha e o Som by Gonçalo M. Tavares, text conceived for the exhibition;
5 – Excerpt taken from Rhanne a Palavra by Gonçalo M. Tavares, text conceived for the exhibition;
6, 7, 8 – Excerpts taken from Kross e a Preguiça by Gonçalo M. Tavares, text conceived for the exhibition;