We Have Fun, by primeira desordem, at Livraria ZdB

We Have Fun is a punk rock performance in an expectant time and space.

The stage is set, the support structures for the instruments are properly laid out, the psychotropic neuronal activators sprout in the internal heat, the cigar lies dormant on the ashtray, the snacks are ready to be swallowed and a pint of beer is ready to be had.

Everything is ready, even though the musical act is missing: the band has a name, a concept, poetic materials and instruments, but it doesn’t exist yet – it’s like a long period of procrastination, postponed ad aeternum, because first comes instant gratification, the quick adrenaline of anything, or the pure and pleasurable idleness of doing nothing. After all, the idea seems to vibrate only in the mind, self-sufficient imaginary projections that, if realised, may lose their vigour and iconoclastic impetus.

Not too distant there is a small book with possible band names: “One Man Island”, “Sextones”, “Mantra Revolution”, “The Drones”, “Paradise Paradigma”, “Hairy Chests”, “Les Bidonvilles”, etc.

The randomness is only apparent, and, in this context, We Have Fun can only be understood as a metalinguistic or meta-performative exercise, where the band primeira desordem is simultaneously an artistic duo and a musical group whose formation should be completed in the near future. What we see in this heteroclite installation is no more than a humorous and self-indulgent exercise in perpetual becoming, where the primeira desordem of the present pay tribute to the primeira desordem of the future.

The work is labyrinthine, ridiculous, risible. Not in a pejorative way, but as something that defies the linearity of facts, life, art. Perhaps we can better understand the duo primeira desordem as a Diogenes on steroids: they do not commit to anything, they do as they please, they masturbate in public, they mock everything that is established, they disturb, subvert and distort the natural and civilizational order of things – true cynicism, according to the Greek and classical meaning of the word, without hierarchies, without filters or decorum, that deconstructs social norms, contradictions, and hypocrisies.

We know them from other vaguely criminal and delirious forays. Other tours around the country, as a punk band, when punk was not yet allowed to be photographed in Camden, in exchange for pounds to drink a few pints. In Escavação (2017), they buried an ancient speaker, painted in gold, on a dig site, so that later archaeologists, in their time-consuming exercise of unravelling the earth, would discover an unheard of case of antiquity, revealed under the lights of academia. It was false. In one move, primeira desordem called into question the construction of the Past, the value chains of artefacts, history and art. Later, in The Kids Are Alright (2022), this subversive behaviour aimed at the urban language of graffiti and tagging, stripping it of its criminal charge and painting it white within the gallery. In Backing Tracks e Cenas Assim (2022), the separation between work and leisure appeared compromised, in a cinema poster whose information and language had nothing to do with a film or cinematographic play.

Humour is inextricable from them. So is irony. Or should we call it post-irony? Or meta-irony?

If irony derides and rejects sincerity, gravity, human values, then post-irony brings us back to gravity in a second layer of understanding. What seems to be a merely absurd or comical thing is actually something serious or something that can be taken seriously. And if life, the micromanagement of everyday events, the ridiculous nausea of existence, is absurd, it is important to take it seriously – which is why many consider post-irony a new sincerity (curiously the name of an American band), increasingly explored in pop culture, from films to TV series, from literature to memes, in a post, in a comment, in a reel on social media.

In meta-irony, gravity and irony are confused. The reader or viewer must make a restless and redoubled interpretative and reinterpretative effort, without reaching a peer conclusion or consensus.

In this laughable and absurdist mixture attacking contemporaneity and its production, between irony, post-irony, sincerity and new sincerity, sometimes cartoonish and compulsive, lies the creative and inventive engine of primeira desordem. Without knowing which way they aim for, if towards a new sincerity or an irony without accountability, the duo analyses every linguistic layer, every text, subtext, intertext and hypertext to cast doubt and bypass mind and reason. It is a hilarious romp and, as a meta-exercise, it’s likely that all of this labels will be set aside and ridiculed too. The usual youthful vigour of many of their works is possibly a self-deprecating provocation to this spontaneous way of creating artworks, in defiance of everything and everyone, challenging institutions, conventions and orders. We will never know for sure.

From the viewpoint of Art discipline and criticism, this practice also undermines the notion of Art and artistic object, encouraging new critical opinions and conceptual tools, without overlooking the importance of subject matter, evident in the captions of the pieces. These are among the many threads that allow us to decipher the mental and plastic puzzle with which the band/duo challenges us. The dubious profile, the amorality to which they subject art and the social, cultural and material deconstruction they promote in their works create new fictitious territories, perpetually expansive, feeding the discussion and debate on the ways of contemporariness and post-modernity so difficult to define. What remains is uncertainty and its tension, unsettling the apollonian spirit, in need of clarification and a strict logic.

primeira desordem show us an Art that serves nothing and nobody, it has no mission, purpose or educational approach. It has no politics or rationale. It exists only as an obstacle that repeatedly stares at us and unsettles us.

We Have Fun is on view at ZDB Bookstore until June 3, curated by Joana Leão.

José Rui Pardal Pina (n. 1988) has a master's degree in architecture from I.S.T. in 2012. In 2016 he joined the Postgraduate Course in Art Curation at FCSH-UNL and began to collaborate in the Umbigo magazine. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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