Where what is not is – Group Exhibition at gaat

A red curtain hides and darkens the interior of the gaat, which until May 27, 2022 hosts the exhibition Tudo o que é estranho… Curated by ignoranciala, the publicity material has names and the respective countries of the invited artists, as well as saying: “Invoking: Sebastian A. Restrepo”. Lured by this information, I wondered what this “Invoking” meant. The sentence’s ritualistic and mysterious aspect escalates into the exhibition.

A wooden tower sequentially projects the video pieces of the five artists – Astrid Gonzáles (Col), Gabriel Siams (Br), Maria Angélica Madero (Col), Rita Lino (Pt) e Rodrigo Moreira (Br). Reminiscent of a kind of transmission tower in urban centres, Aparato is a reference to El Lissitzky’s Lenin Tribune (1924) and underlines the exhibition’s narrative dimension. The side wheels reveal a mobile structure. With a few clues, Tudo que é estranho… has layers that are not perceptible at first. A red, portable speaker attached to the Aparato is also an interconnecting point. We think about the object’s symbolism in the context of Latin American culture or, as is often the case, the casualties that become determinant. The curatorship underlines the exhibition’s discursive force, where the curator is also present as an artist to create thoughtful gaps between subliminal relationships and signs.

The first Apparition is Historia del misterio (2019) by María Angélica Madero (Col). Several species make up the hybrid being that gravitates around itself in the digital sculpture. Though we see the unknown creature in full, we notice some kind of hidden nature. Next, in Vocabulary (2017), Rodrigo Moreira (Br) presents a brief, illustrated course in Portuguese for foreigners. There are several essential phrases for communicating the Portuguese language that appear over images, historical facts and characters from Brazilian culture. The irony of Vocabulary(2007) reveals colonial traces, stigmas of the international perspective on Brazil and not so distant ghosts. Pronunciar perejil en la masacre (2021) by Astrid González (Col) is also about language. Not as a tool for rapprochement, but as an instrument of discrimination and extermination when Trujillo’s Dominican Republic (1937) caused the death of over 20.000 Haitians. As if it were a horror film, the strangeness in eerie (2020) is complemented by the sound. On the way to getting lost in the darkness, the restlessness of Rita Lino (Pt) is interrupted with the unexpected cut to Lying on his deathbed (2021) by Gabriel Siams (Br), which dilates the time instant between life and death. Within the action of invisible forces on the body[1], the last of the Apparitions leaves a trace.

The presence of red – in the sound speaker, the curtain and the blood of Lying on his deathbed (2021) – attracts the eye again. In casus (2017), by Sebastian A. Restrepo (Col), a red light fixture points to the open pages of a book by the artist laid on the wall. The colour settles into the presence of fire – a candle lit by another hybrid being – and the writings of the one who is invoking and being invoked.

Sebastian A. Restrepo disappeared in Medellín a year ago when he decided to go for a walk in the San Sebastián La Castellana reserve. Before that, he wiped out a large part of his digital tracks, which did not seem strange, since this happened frequently. At first, the concern also considered the possibility that the disappearance was part of a work or performance, as the artist had already dealt with this theme in his research and other pieces, such as Algunos Casos Sobre la Abducción from 2019. Sebastian was never seen again and remains missing. This is not said in the exhibition or its text, except through orality.

Finally, APARATO itinerante is the record of the five Apparitions in the most recent action, where video installation took over urban space. This pointing to the exhibition’s origin poses some questions. Tudo o que é estranho…addresses that which is not said but exists. Often, that is what matters most. The encounter between art and life manifests itself in its mysteries – what lies behind the curtain -, which can be daunting or be part of layers we don’t want to encounter. But “what if mystery illuminates and that is why ghosts are spectres of light?”[2]

Tudo o que é estranho… is a ghost.


[1] Deleuze on spasm in The Logic of Sense.

[2] ignoranciala: Exhibition text

Ana Grebler (Belo Horizonte - Brazil) is an artist, curator and writer. Graduated in Fine Arts at the State University of Minas Gerais (UEMG) and postgraduate in Art Curatorship at Nova University of Lisbon (FCSH). Participated in group shows in Brazil and organized the exhibitions Canil (2024), Deslize (2023) and O horizonte é o meio (2022), in Lisbon. Contributes with Umbigo Magazine with essays, reviews and interviews, and works on the platform's international partnerships. At the intersection of practices, reflects on contemporary visual culture, creating dialogues and imaginaries between spaces and artistic processes. Currently lives and works in Lisbon.

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