Morre Longe by Tiago Alexandre at Appleton Square

Speeding alone at night, Morre Longe, Tiago Alexandre’s latest exhibition at Appleton, has a route: six motorbike helmets display six liquid paintings on the visors. They are stills of a route specified in the exhibition text, as the path from the artist’s house to Lisbon’s Casino. In the mirroring of this false glass, which is only surface, we do not see a reflection, but the vision of the driver, in a displaced inside-out dialogue. We cannot see who is inside the giant helmets. Black, anonymous, unforgiving, they wield masculinity as an impenetrable mask that fears nothing. Or automatic hiding places for a latent and secret content. Who are we over there? Perhaps the drivers. There seem to be three opposing dimensions in collision:

  1. The helmet looking in our direction, covering up someone we don’t see.
  2. The visor mirroring the driver’s vision rather than the material’s reflection.
  3. We, the external agents, who perceive that vision.

There is something akin to a simulation, a computer game. Perhaps putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes – after all, in the empty gallery, where helmets are like sepulchres, we are probably the drivers of the route and storyline, giving meaning to what we see. And what is Morre Longe? A shameless, brazen cry. The taunting of those who feel camouflaged, protected inside a cloak. Or perhaps the announcement of our trampling by those huge, secretive bikes, coming out of a melting wall in front of us.

The impartial white light, like a morgue, renders objects static as traces. It takes away their cinematic, nocturnal, immersive side.

Of the six helmets, five are black and one is white. The last one has Japanese characters that say The Swan Song. A white swan. Purity, light on a night scene, like a prayer. Unstoppable life, where happiness lies in the transient locations, innocent victim of an overwhelming world in threshold spaces turned into a routine. The Japanese lyrics are pop caricature, they reveal an imagery specific to the post-internet age, global foreignism, swallowed by anime or faux nostalgia, 80s music converted into vaporwave and slowed and reverb. Yes, there is in these helmets’ underlying drama a radio where we listen to music. I wouldn’t bring to mind the sunny comfort of Hotel California by the Eagles, referred to in the exhibition text, but it also makes sense. It’s a reflection of the utopia of that ideal, delusional place where we quickly want to reach, something beyond – something also referred by António Variações.

Some songs and records could be soundtracks: the dazzling Donda, the violence of Motomami, the pose of Nightcall, the dissatisfaction of Estou Além.

Motorbikes have been part of Tiago Alexandre’s artistic imagination since the beginning of his career: we see these tracks in works built around driving gloves or, directly, in his first exhibition at the Balcony Gallery, Words Don’t Come Easy, a title also taken from an 80s synth-pop hit. The imagery seems circular. Whoever accelerates on a racetrack wants to reach the starting point. Is Morre Longe an exhibition about longing for something?

Morre Longe by Tiago Alexandre is at Appleton, in Lisbon, until July 20.

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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