Mutirão[i] at the nowhere: an experiment in living(with)
“Do you know what life is for me? A monster of energy… that doesn’t spend itself, but only transforms itself… (a) play of forces and waves of forces, simultaneously one and many…; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing” [i]
Entering an exhibition space requires calibrating a mindset and, above all, a disposition of-with-to perceptual forces. Deleuze describes this as perceptions and affections[ii]. There we find an extremely active, awake and deeply alive milieu. Nowhere, in a corner of the Lapa parish, Lisbon, besides being a contemporary art gallery, is a birthplace of new germinating potencies of life-art, where they develop their legs to run-accelerate-slide in this world. An “experimental platform for research, reflection and practice in contemporary art” is the definition used by the venue’s directors, curator Cristina Tejo and artists Marilá Dardot and Luiza Baldan. This proposal is so vital, in the sense of Nietzsche in Will to Power, as I’ve mentioned above, that, when we encounter the space, our breath is quieted: there is future(s)!
Di(gestion) as an artistic platform
(enthusiasm, exuberance, vigour)
During my visit to the Mutirão exhibition, guided by the curator Cristina Tejo and the artist Dárida Rodrigues, we hear the noise of the pipes hanging from the room’s ceiling – the water running in the pipes, flowing from the building’s upper floors to the ground floor, where the gallery is installed. Cristina speaks as she smiles, “We jokingly say that the nowhere is the building’s bowels.” This entered my thoughts. It seems to be an important image: metabolisation (dissociation of compounds, transforming them into energy) as an expression of the artistic work in the socio-political context. The intestine, which is a digestive organ, fulfils the main function of keeping the body nourished, hydrated and properly functioning.
Art, in its experimental and transgressive character, fulfils the same role. It cultivates vital energy to produce glimpses of new worlds, new ways of practising and metabolising Life. And we need this invigorating breath so much in times of crisis. (When did the crisis begin? The environmental crisis, political crisis, health crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis, etc.) The nowhere is committed to this position, conceiving an independent program that promotes critical training and the visibility of new artists dedicated to experimental and inquisitive practice. This allows the creation of a field of work that often seems unreachable: free from the limits of the mainstream market.
Mutirão is one of the expressions of this will to transformation. In the curator’s words: “This exhibition contains works donated by 22 established artists in favour of the training, experimentation and visibility of 25 artists who have taken part in our critical monitoring laboratories or who continue to be part of our community. Club nowhere is an experiment similar to an artists’ cooperative, where works are sold for the same price without aiming for profit. All proceeds from the sale of the works go towards the venue’s maintenance.”
This exhibition has the metabolic character of assemblage[iii], with different forces and poetic powers in the communal advantage of energy production. A manifestation of what Spinoza conceptualised in body-conatus[iv]: entities that strive to increase their power to act by forming alliances with others. Or Deleuze’s concept “adsorption”, used to describe the part-all relationship: adsorption is a coming together of elements, where both constitute a coalition and yet preserve some momentum of each element.
The artists featured are: Roberta Goldfarb, Victor Gonçalves, Marcia Xavier, Thiago Honório, Daniel Moraes, Leda Braga, Nicolás Robbio, Cristiano Lenhardt, Eduarda Rosa, Lina Kim, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Duda Affonso, Jack Mugler, Dárida Rodrigues, Danielle Cracav, Cristiana Nogueira, Maria Laet, Yuli Anastassakis, Carlos Vasconcelos, Liliane Dardot, Gabriela Machado, Lucia Laguna, Rafael Alonso, Gisele Camargo, Marcelo Moscheta, Sandra Birman, Sonia Távora, Judith Cavalcanti, Veridiana Leite, Luiza Baldan, Potira Maia, Natália Loyola, Cinthia Marcelle, Juliana Matsumura, Ana Morgadinho, Diego Castro, Ana Hupe, Marilá Dardot, Lais Myrrha, Álvaro Seixas, Leonora de Barros, Thalita Hamaoui, Fernanda Feher and Cristina Canale.
Several languages are used by the artists and the curators bring them together in a thematic proposition: the word, the city, nature, cartography, the journey, geometry, transparency, chromatic affinities and the current political tension. The most relevant is the eloquence of collective hope. A teaching of “Teko porã”, a Guarani term which means the “beautiful path” or the “good life”. And this path, and this way of living, takes place in the community. I recall the image of Francis Alÿs’ anecdote in Cuando la fe mueve montañas. Epic and beaming. An event that perpetuated itself beyond the action undertaken, through a powerful device: word-of-mouth. Mutirão will prolong itself through a similar mechanism because solidarity is a constant, persistent and perennial virus.
I end with the last sentences of Dárida Rodrigues’ sound work, part of the exhibition:
“Then you repeat.
As many times as necessary.
As many times as necessary.
As many times as necessary.”
Mutirão is Club nowhere’s second exhibition, running until January 15, 2022, in Lisbon.
[i]Nietzsche, Friedrich (2017) The Will to Power. London: Penguin Classics. p. 40
[ii] Bacon, Francis. (2011). Lógica da Sensação. Lisbon: Orfeu Negro
[iii] “An assemblage is vindicated in the vitality of its materialities. This congregational agency goes by the name of shi in the Chinese tradition. Shi helps to ‘illuminate something usually difficult to capture in discourse: the kind of potential that does not originate in the human initiative but results from the disposition of things. Shi is the style, energy, propensity, trajectory or élan inherent in a specific arrangement of things. (…) shi gives its name to the dynamic force emanating from a spatial-temporal configuration rather than from any element within it’”. Bennet, Jane. (2010) Vibrant Matter – a political ecology of things. London: Duke University Press Durham. p.35
[iv] https://soa.syr.edu/proj/environmentalcloudatlas/Actant.html Accessed on January 7, 2022