Rosa Montero (born in 1951) wrote: “Culture is a palimpsest and we all write about what others have already written.”¹ Palimpsest comes from the original ancient Greek and it means rewriting, scraping and writing over a parchment or a papyrus that, between the seventh and twelfth centuries, had already been scraped with pumice stone to be reused. Justified by the high cost of support, such practice led to the loss of a considerable portion of Greco-Roman texts, while inscribing a new layer of information into natural matter, camouflaging the previous one, even though it could not be completely eliminated. The rewrite was a new truth that ignored previous pre-Christian thinking, seeking to institute a new order, made up of a new class within the realm of power.
In the 21st century, and in a (mis) alignment of the path traced by humanity, everything is a mask: the information conveyed by the media and social networks is, for example, manipulated to alarm or lighten reality. Everyone wants to reveal their best on the assumption that error is highly reprehensible, almost criminal, at a time when, despite new conquered freedoms, there is still social pressure to be perfect, even if unhappy. As Marcel Proust (1871-1922) wrote, somewhere in In Search of Lost Time (1914-27), “We become moral when we are unhappy.” PALIMPSESTS, as a curatorial exercise, is first and foremost a fight against false morals and moralists.
PALIMPSESTS is a process of aesthetic organization of layered experiences and (un) truths that the postmodern daily invites us to see. Nothing is what it seems, and what it really is can only be seen underneath the surface of the superficial selection of images that the city feeds our eager eyes. Sara Maia (born in 1974), Jorge Abade (born in 1974), Hélio Luís (born in 1980), Patrícia Oliveira (born in 1983), Ricardo Campos (born in 1977) and Monica Mindelis (born in 1972) introduce us to plastic layers of processual dilettantism between painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video and performance, which address motherhood, work, sexuality, postcolonialism and a different outlook, nature and the dream, in a tangent and an illusion that challenges us to contemplate, interact and react. The expographic speech, not only allows and promotes new connections among protagonists but it also proposes cross-reflections on macro philosophical and existential issues, that seem micro to us due to our tendency to see the world from our own perspective, thus forgetting that we are only a very small part of a plural and brutal whole.
This is an exhibition that reveals and conceals, from a selection of artists that wander through the paths of figuration and that depart from both philosophical and conceptually antipodal universes. It must be read as a whole made up of various parts and, above all, as a cry for the emancipation of the inverted truth which we all unknowingly help to proliferate. Or as Guy Debord (1931-1994) once wrote: “Emancipating oneself from the material basis of the inverted truth is ultimately what self-emancipation of our time is all about.”²
Helena Mendes Pereira
zet gallery’s chief curator
¹ MONTERO, Rosa – A Louca da Casa. Lisboa: Livros do Brasil, 2016. Pages 14 and 15.
² DEBORD, Guy – A sociedade do espectáculo. Lisboa: Antígona, 2012. Page 136.