Vanishing points of a common gaze. Or common points of a vanishing gaze?

The exhibition Contravisões – A Fotografia na Coleção António Cachola. Parte 1 presents a unique focus on a means of expression and is considered the first of its kind to showcase the António Cachola Collection. It presents various approaches to examining the relationships, affinities, and tensions between different works and artists.

Contravisões, an exhibition curated by Sérgio Mah, is currently on view at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas (MACE) until June 11. It has a unique character as it is doubly expanded, with Parte 2 opening on June 26, 2023. This duality offers both the artist and the public the opportunity to explore different readings and narratives. In the realm of Art, the act of gazing is already deeply ingrained. In this context, not only does the curator, but also the media being presented, extend this invitation to gaze. This creates a continuous interplay between the images and the act of looking.

In his work S/título (terminal) (2017), José Maçãs de Carvalho invites us on a journey that encourages different interpretations. Even when viewed from outside the building, his work sets the tone for an experience that is free from any hierarchical, historiographical, or thematic constraints. This is particularly noteworthy given that the medium used in the collection is typically presented in a more structured manner.

The first gallery features Filipa César’s La Pyramide Humaine (2009), which uses photography to explore several applications of film and appears to challenge the established norms of this medium. It explores the connection between humanity and nature, as well as the concept of time’s progression. Nuno Cera and Daniel Blaufuks’ works also reveal these analogies, further amplified by Daniel Barroca’s exploration of memory. The effort by André Cepeda contains concepts and ideas that are also evident in the figure portrayed by Luís Campos. This confrontation is directly presented to us and is also roused by Fernanda Fragateiro. In Público/Privado – Doce calma ou violência doméstica (1997-1995), Fragateiro invites us to become fully immersed in her art and experience the private space that was previously introduced by João Paulo Serafim and Nuno Sousa Vieira.

Pedro Barateiro’s work on the staircase leading to the upper floor enhances the tension between public and private. By placing the viewer at the center of the action and dialogue between his works, the artist creates an engaging experience. The intense gaze of João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva is particularly noticeable, as they direct their attention towards us in a way that almost seems like an attempt to take possession of our thoughts. This is tied to Salomé Lamas’ piece, which also explores the intersection of memory and fiction.

In the series Anatomia e Boxe (1996/97), Molder thoroughly examines the seemingly lifeless skull of Gusmão & Paiva, making the body the focal point. This iconic series brings us back to the center of the dialogue and alludes to the concept of plasticity, which is also present in Fernão Cruz’s work. If the intention is to document a process, it becomes even more apparent in the effort led by Patrícia Garrido. It is characterized by an emphasis on performativity, where the process is the goal. This is exemplified in Catarina Dias’ Sem Título (2017).

The final moment is particularly remarkable as it actively engages the viewer’s stare. Julião Sarmento’s Vox (2001) does it quite literally. This moment also features a striking contrast between the raw reality of the backstage, as captured by Augusto Alves da Silva, and the surreal world depicted in the works of Mauro Cerqueira and António Júlio Duarte. The primate portrayed by Dias appears to be incredulous in the face of this contrast.

What is the nature of reality in photography?

While the presentation of the works may not deviate from the norm, we are dealing with photography that lives beyond its traditional boundaries. The exhibition features various forms of media, including video, film, and installation, all of which are marked by a sense of fatalism and decadence. This theme is introduced in Dias’ work at the beginning of the exhibition and is then expanded upon through Miguel Palma’s use of a telescopic eye. Through the medium of photography, the show creates a continuous cycle that allows us to build and explore different worlds. It can be inferred that Contravisõesunites opposite perspectives and means of escape, resulting in a shared viewpoint that is focused on the observer. The latter expands their gaze while in flight, searching for a common point among various perspectives.

Contravisões – A Fotografia na Coleção António Cachola. Parte 1 André Cepeda, António Júlio Duarte, Augusto Alves da Silva, Catarina Dias, Daniel Barroca, Daniel Blaufuks, Diogo Evangelista, Fernanda Fragateiro, Fernão Cruz, Filipa César, Jorge Molder, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, João Paulo Serafim, José Maçãs de Carvalho, Julião Sarmento, Luís Campos, Mauro Cerqueira, Miguel Palma, Nuno Cera, Nuno Sousa Vieira, Patrícia Garrido, Pedro Barateiro, Ramiro Guerreiro, Rodrigo Oliveira, Salomé Lamas.

MACE is hosting it until June 11.

Cultural Mediator, Curator and Researcher. Master’s in History and Heritage and Degree in Cultural Heritage, by the University of Algarve. He holds a research scholarship at DINÂMIA'CET-ISCTE. He has been working mainly in Cultural Mediation, Heritage Education and Cultural Project Management, with special focus on the intersection between art, culture and education. He has taken part in several national and international initiatives related to cultural projects in the area of arts and innovation, such as ILUCIDARE, European Creative Rooftop Network, and Faro 2027. He was one of the 2022 MACE Young Ambassadors and has a special interest in contemporary creation, currently completing a postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA FCSH. He believes that 'there is a future in the past'!

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