Caring is Sharing 2.0 at Arbag
“Courage, audacity, and rebellion will be key components of our adventure.”
The French journal Le Figaro published Marinetti’s (1876–1944) futurist manifesto in 1909, and this is one of eleven parts from it. It served as the inspiration for Caring is Sharing 2.0, which is on exhibit at the brand-new independent venue Arbag until June 29 at 7 Buenos Aires in Lisbon’s Estrela quarter.
A bow and arrow are set up by an archer. The target can be enormous, like a pitch-black night or a clear sky on a spring day, has no name, and is unknown. There are many things in our world that are unnamed or that have never been defined, even if they do have names. According to Susan Sontag (1933-2004), who wrote the essay Notes on Camp (1964), which I shall discuss in more detail later on in this article.
The initiative Caring is Sharing was started by Francisco Trêpa. For the second edition, he invites himself and seven other artists to create a game or discussion between the artists Ana Vidigal, Gabriel Junqueira, Henrique Tavares Ferreira, Isa Toledo, Joana Bastos, Joana Coelho, and Mané Pacheco. The eight participants in this suggested artist-to-artist painting are asked to present a piece of their own creation, following which their names are placed in a box and they take part in a large drawing. Each artist chooses one of the other names on the wheel, which prompts them to produce a new piece that can be interpreted as a reaction, incorporation, tribute, adaptation, or even theft. Two pieces by each artist are on display in this exhibition.
You may play this game by following the bunny. Like in Lewis Carroll’s (1832–1898) Alice in Wonderland, written under the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the White Rabbit does not lead Alice; rather, he only marks the road so that she can choose for herself. Art is a combination between attitude, bravery, and imagination rather than a definite discourse. I enter Arbag and am immediately overcome by the palo santo scent that had been permeating the building. As a bystander, I therefore feel welcomed into the discourse. It is important to note, that throughout this piece, many terms will be surrounded by quotation marks. This is because, at least initially, a lot of items in this text solely belong to Camp’s aesthetic, and Camp typically perceives things in quotation marks, such as: it is not a “lamp”, but a “lamp.” (1964, SONTAG).
Right at the entrance, in sync with my sense of smell, is a “postcard” stall called Vidafólio Vidafolia, 2023, which features photographs displayed on a “carousel” that rotates on a cardboard box covered in gift paper that looks like stones, positioned on a wooden bench. This work was created by Joana Bastos. In her response, Ana Vidigal weaves together a variety of commonplace goods, including trinkets, fine stitching on fabric, authentic postcards, and more. Additionally, she honours Joana by titling the paintings with the names of her children: Leonor, Francisco, and Mafalda.
From Francisco Trêpa’s dinnerware came the palo santo scent. The plates, supported by a stamp of a bunny, are family heirlooms that have been passed down through the generations in his family. Additionally, there are sceneries printed on the plate, including a woodland and an Australian bush where a kangaroo lives. Trêpa completed his assemblage by gluing amorphic ceramics into the porcelain, one of which is holding a palo santo by its “mouth.” A linen napkin that was salvaged from the washing machine filter is being carried in the “pouch” of the crocheted kangaroo that sprang from the plate. Isa Toledo’s reaction was the leap Kanga&Roo, 2023. She then dons a white linen blouse that is embroidered with names of famous women who have shaped Western history. By chance, Francisco Trêpa enters the conversation with Isa again. He makes a glazed ceramic “book” and selects Susan Sontag, one of the names embroidered by Toledo in Daughters of Gomorrah, 2023: Susan Sontag- Notes of Camp is shown in “shelves” in connection to a “penguin” that does not occupy the “shelf” that has been designated for it, leaving an empty space that has been filled on the floor. Where I said that many words would be in quotation marks in this dialogue is due to the fact that, in discussing the Camp aesthetic, Susan Sontag wrote in her tenth note: “To perceive Camp in objects and people is to understand that To Be is to Act a part. This is the greatest extension, sensibility-wise, of the metaphor of life as theater.”
Blood Bath, 2022, is a display by Joana Coelho. The medium chosen to show her drawing gives it the appearance of a sacred “notebook” or “book,” and Joana Bastos gives it a Duchampian touch with the inclusion of a circular cake shape with a mould of a rabbit in the center (romantics are said to see a rabbit drawn on the moon when it is full).
A duvet hovers in the air and items are strewn across the floor in the same room where Coelho displays her artwork. Domesticidade: A domesticidade começa na cama (Grande, tão grande quanto ele), 2023, by Henrique Tavares where both order and disarray are on view. To create this floating artwork, dream and reality, life and death, memory and oblivion are woven together. Along the same lines, Gabriel Junqueira replies to Henrique with Ecrãs 2, 3 e 4, 2023, in which an aluminium weave casts a shadow over dried flowers and thorns. The metal’s stiffness contrasts with the organic material’s fragility and, when the two are combined, they become enduring.
Sonhos Molhados (Petits Riens), 2023 by Ana Vidigal, which takes us to the land of dreams, is located at the bottom of the stairs. According to Brazilian poet Waly Salomo (1943-2003), who repeated the phrase “Life is dream” in his video performance Câmara de Ecos, wetting the dream is watering the childhood living inside. The materials utilized to support the gears of Mané Pacheco’s piece Turn on Burn out, 2023, contradicting and completing Ana Vidigal’s wet dreams, including high-pressure bulbs, bamboo, and hardware.
In turn, Mané Pacheco presents Fera ll, 2022, with deer antlers renewing themselves, so that all inner strength spans a dark night, as well as Penumbras l and ll, where Joana Coelho was inspired by the synthetic fur creature.
Once again in conversation with Junqueira, Henrique Ferreira Tavares crosses an olive tree trunk in his composition. In the video Archiz Habitat, 2021, which sonically expands through the underground, forests and man-made ruins point to a potential future before the eyes that wander in the present. Domesticidade: O Interior noutro lugar, 2023 the olive tree is sturdy. The oil is used to prepare rites, and the olive tree’s roots enable it to sprout again in any circumstance.
In Caring is Sharing, half of the exhibition is planned out, while the other is a surprise driven by a challenge. Contrasts and complementarities that exist in many domains and strata help us to understand the essence of life, which transforms the vital flow into a continuous line. Examples of this complementarity of opposites include Yin-Yang, Ping-Pong, Zig-Zag, Life-Death, and Sun-Moon, whether through ideologies, music, or games. Here, the artist player makes the bids, displaying a work and creating another piece from the other player’s bid. Caring is Sharing 2.0, an artistic system that boasts a complicated and hierarchical structure, comes with a twist and a break. The concept by Francisco Trêpa emphasizes the individuality and distinctiveness of the feature artists. The traits of curatorial events produced by artists, as noted by Filipovic (2013), include the use of the body, experience, festivity, and contact, as well as experimental suggestions that aim to make significant changes in the artistic-social environment.
All this seems like an endless path, just “Don’t forget to look around!”[i].
SONTAG, Susan. Notas sobre Camp. 1964: Picador, 2019. 9 p.
FILIPOVIC, Elena. The artist as curator. France: Mousse Magazine, 2013. 281 p. Available in: https://studioell.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/filipovic_the-artist-as-curator.pdf. Accessed on June 6, 2023.
[i] Quote taken from the exhibition room text Caring is Sharing 2.0