Robyn Brentano & Andrew Horn, Carlos Bunga, Spencer Finch, General Idea, Kapwani Kiwanga, Eric N. Mack, Joseph del Pesco and Johnny Pootoogook at Galeria 3+1 Arte Contemporânea

I remember a light image, a fluctuation against gravity, proving that it is momentarily possible to rise above the Earth’s weight, in a poetic body moving beyond space and time.

At the exhibition entrance, balloons attached by a thread to a small stone levitate. In time, they will lose their air. But, in a prestidigitating action, they regain their initial volume and position, as on November 26, 2004, when artist Spencer Finch suspended balloons over the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, reminiscent of theme park recreation, fun and ephemeral seaside play. Sky over Coney Island (2004) is an evocation, an attempt to materialise a memory, where each balloon is the same colour and size as the balloons suspended that bygone day. However, full lightness and buoyancy is only achieved by the hands of those who refill them as they lose air. Only in that invisible care, beyond the artist, is evocation possible. And, subtly, this is also how the essay on lightness continues in the exhibition, encompassing other works such as Joseph del Pesco’s All for the Want of a Whisper (2017). Seven piles of posters show a text/proverb – environmental and geopolitical reference -, with backgrounds in different grey tones, in a gradient with shades of Fogo Island’s misty sky. Or GENERI© (1992), by the General Idea collective: a bright red and yellow balloon enclosed within a frame, which recalls a 1992 installation with 3000 suspended pill-shaped balloons, in a reference to AIDS and the empty promises of the pharmaceutical industry in the face of social exclusion, disease and death of millions. Unlike the work Sky Over Coney Island, the balloons are not refilled, but descend definitively to the ground, like the death of a body that resurfaces here as a memento.

The exhibition continues with Homeless #4 (2021) by Carlos Bunga. Painting and nature consume anthropogenic landscapes, making room for the body’s nomadism and movement against the idea of the perenniality of home or civilisation. This play between life and death is found throughout the venue. It recalls the weightlessness, but also the thematic and/or physical density of works such as Bodice (2022) by Eric N. Mack, where the weight of the industrial fabric, with all the symbolic connotations we can extrapolate, has a floating veneer that imposes itself on the architecture. Once again, gravity and the oxidation of bodies act upon living and inanimate matter, as we can read between the lines in Flowers for Africa: Angola by artist Kapwani Kiwanga (2020). A bouquet of flowers, found in everyday photographs of Africa’s independence, is reinterpreted and repeated in each exhibition using local florists, whose body and identity is always invisible before the construction of historical narratives. The bouquet ages and the images maintain their symbolic complexity.

Finally, the graphite drawings Shaman (2018, 2019) by Pootoogook, where a human body resembles a winged spirit. And Cloud Dance (1980), by Robyn Brentano and Andrew Horn, an edited film-choreography, where the dancer’s body dangles between the fabric sculpture by artist Leonore Tawney.

Like Calvino1, Rui Mateus Amaral chose lightness rather than weight for this exhibition. Yes, when we speak of fluctuations or rarefied atmospheres, we speak of an exercise in the potency of life before a body that returns to the earth and becomes dust, minuscule and subtle matter, like memory and the Antropos.

The exihibition with works from Robyn Brentano & Andrew Horn, Carlos Bunga, Spencer Finch, General Idea, Kapwani Kiwanga, Eric N. Mack, Joseph del Pesco and Johnny Pootoogook, curated by Rui Mateus Amaral, is at Galeria 3+1 Arte Contemporânea until June 25.


1 – Reference to CALVINO, Italo, Ligthness in Six Memos for the New Millennium, Teorema, 2006 (1996 original ed.).

Additional note: Text inspired by Rita Anuar’s guided visit and the text exhibition, May 18, 2022, by Rui Mateus Amaral.

Margarida Alves (Lisbon, 1983). Artist, PhD student in Fine Arts (FBAUL). Researcher by the University of Lisbon. Degree in Sculpture (FBAUL, 2012), Master in Art and Glass Science (FCTUNL & FBAUL, 2015), Degree in Civil Engineering (FCTUNL, 2005). She is a resident artist in the collective Atelier Concorde. Collaborates with national and foreign artists. Her work has an interdisciplinary character and focuses on themes associated with origin, otherness, and historical, scientific and philosophical constructions of reality.

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