Tracing the Infrathin at galeria Monitor

Infrathin is a concept by Marcel Duchamp where an interval is exposed, an instant that separates inertia from change. Its an ironic concept, overly accurate or not, who knows (after all, he was always someone who tried to run away from labels)? But it has been fueling many formal and intellectual explorations, among them Tracing the Infrathin, the Monitor gallerys latest exhibition.

It features seven works by seven artists. In their impossible union – given the diversity of formal means, each piece seems to belong to a self-contained world, almost incommunicable with the others – they come together in the sense of escapism that Duchamp tried to capture. They refer to contradictions, shortages, omens, tensions like the one José Taborda literally shows us in Delay. Here, a knife is about to cut a string that holds a frame, showing us a photograph of the potential outcome of that fatal act. The string is one of the most direct and pertinent links in this show: besides Delay, it is also in Notas sobre o limite do mar by Maria Laet. It is a sewing medium through which the artist tries to weave the ephemeral movement of the sea waves. In Marianne Moore by Elisa Montessori, it is attached to a book like a marker, where the artist illustrates the text of the American poet. The string is a bond of strength, connection, link, but also a marginal, liminal object, whose resistance allows us to save – to pass from the abyss to the surface and let ourselves exist in that gap.

The shows highlights, besides Delay, will go to two other works: En.Talho by Eduardo Freitas, at the end of the first room. We see a display case of meat that could at first sight confuse the gallery with a butchers shop, but the pieces are all made of marble and limestone. The works hyper-realism bewilders us and takes us to the edge of astonishment and dissociation. They are reminiscent of the plastic explorations of Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel and recover the tradition of Northern European genre scenes, plentiful in the 17th century. The aim was to represent meat sales (we may recall Pieter Aertsens or Frans Snyders paintings) or, at their fatalistic extreme, still lifes, within an interest in the full simulation of objects. The other highlight is Silurata Tra Le Mani by Thomas Braida. Here a twisted, hard, undulating book is painted, from which an ocean of water gushes out and a boat breaks over the hands of a human figure – one of them numb, already blue, the other wanting to catch part of that sea. Drowning is inevitable.

We must also mention the translucency of Ana Catarina Teixeiras untitled work, where we gauge possible patterns, almost limpid, of a glass casting. And the exhibitions first work, Self-portrait as a property by the artist duo primeira desordem, exhibiting front and back of three keys, their letters and inscriptions, and the way in which, through their category as an object held by someone, they can trace an outline of that person by being their property. The keys show some letters, almost randomly. In fact, they are almost cryptically hidden, invisible in most keys. I know this because, in my childhood, I used to play a game at school where I would try to find these letters on the zips of backpacks, jackets, keys, building words and sentences with them. When I couldnt find the letters I wanted, I would try to see how far I could go with what I had found. Deep down, I was also playing with absence. It is in the similar, ever-determining unintelligibility (or the Infrathin, if we prefer) that lies the secret language of art.

Tracing the Infrathin is on view at the Monitor gallery until May 21.

Miguel Pinto (Lisbon, 2000) is graduated in Art History by NOVA/FCSH and made his internship at the National Museum of Azulejo. He has participated in the research project VEST - Vestir a corte: traje, género e identidade(s) at the Humanities Centre of the same institution. He has created and is running the project Parte da Arte, which tries to investigate the artistic scene in Portugal through video essays.

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