WE SHALL GO TO THE FUTURE
At dstgroup we have a passion for books and reading and, in the middle of a pandemic period with our campus far from its usual life and close, on some days, to the image of a ghost town, José Teixeira, Chairman of the Board of Directors and founder of zet gallery, remembered to inhabit the space with excerpts of texts by poets, writers.
On a December 2020 day, immersed in so many doubts about the future, at the entrance of the Logistics Centre, there was (and still is) a banner with this sentence from a poem by Filipa Leal “we shall go to the FUTURE”. I photographed it and shared it on social media, not really knowing why it touched me so much, on that day, at that stage of my life and our collective life. Perhaps because for someone, like me, who has always planned so much and tried so hard to structure her life, this period of the pandemic has brought daily doubt about what lies ahead.
At a time when we are preparing the group exhibition WE SHALL GO TO THE FUTURE, the world is traversed by the (still) fighting pandemic and the horror of war, not only on European territory but also in so many other parts of the world, and all our responses to these humanitarian emergencies seem insufficient and make us feel that we are truly insignificant in our action when faced with these global challenges. I wonder, can Art change the world? I believe that Art is the beginning and never the end. It is the possibility of eternity, it is the certainty of change, in the expectation of anticipation of what is to come, of such a future.
Throughout the history of art, and particularly in the post-World War II period and coinciding with the emergence of the avant-garde in the 1960s/70s, hundreds of artists have intended and intend their productions from the perspective of activism, to alert and action on the world. Political curatorship is the main programming trend of our time. Just think, for example, of the themes of the latest editions of the most relevant structures of artistic creation and programming in the world, such as biennials, museums, and fairs.
Art will be the most sublime and effective form of politics. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) wrote that “We have art in order not to die or go mad of the truth. Only art can transfigure the disorder of the world into beauty and make acceptable all that is problematic and terrible in life”. In 1993, Antwerp was the European Capital of Culture, and it took one question as the aggregating theme for all its programming: “Can Art Change the World?”.
The German sociologist Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) wrote, in response to this demand, that “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and impulses of men and women, who could change the world” and, further, that “Art combats reification by making the petrified world speak, sing and perhaps dance”. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) stated that “No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”
On that day, in December 2020, burdened by so many doubts about the future, perhaps Filipa Leal’s sentence brought exactly this answer: Art can and will change the world and, with it, we will go into the future. Always. When I started designing this exhibition I knew that Filipa Leal’s sentence was the motto and the title. I also knew that Filipa Leal had to be a part of this special space journey and that’s why we invited her to share the curatorship of it.
From day one, zet gallery has kept part of its strategy focused on promoting emerging artists. We understand that our action, as a gallery, should not be guided only by betting on safe values, but by the risk and boldness of daring to affirm our belief in talent. The history of the art system is made up of visionaries, collectors, gallery owners, critics and curators who, at one time or another, wrote their names in the annals of history. We do not deny ourselves this responsibility to shape the future, at all levels, and also in the artistic field.
We have regularly paid attention to the work done by artistic higher education institutions and other contexts for the presentation of young values. As has been the practice, our exercise of decentralisation of the most evident creative epicentres, being attentive to the globality of the country and the world, considering that in a digital time it makes increasingly less sense not to promote global access to opportunities.
When we started thinking about a set of artists for an exhibition that aims to present a dozen artists who, we believe, have Olympus as their destination, we did the exercise of diversifying, as much as possible, the research by the national artistic higher education institutions and by an ambitious territorial extension and affirmation of new creative centres.
WE SHALL GO TO THE FUTURE is, therefore, our proposal, a bold step we take, believing that Art can and will change the world, that we want to be part of that change and we also want to define, to propose, who will go with us to the future, who will write with us the History of the Future.
The zet gallery team participated, in full, in the process of research and choice of artists and, in relation to the curricular unit of “Exhibition Practice” that I teach in the Degree of Visual Arts of the School of Architecture, Art and Design of the University of Minho, I also challenged the students to join the project, being theirs the choice of one of the artists, as well as the production of part of the speech about each one, following the collective work done in class. In that future where we want to go, we would like to see more collective and collaborative work. So we have to start setting an example now, right away.
The proposals of these 12 young artists thus fit into a possible conceptual framework of what is the vastness of contemporary artistic production, definable in the idea of the five D’s, which I had the opportunity to present in my doctoral dissertation:
Democratisation | Desecralisation | Dematerialisation | Decharacterisation | Decentralisation.
The authors present a diversity of media and technologies in their creative processes, calling upon the disciplines of drawing, painting, sculpture, serigraphy, computer art and new media, and performance, in an installation thought and the relation of the works with space. We travel from trends of figuration to the minimal and/or abstract, in records of interiority and observation of the world, full of poetry and disquiet. The excerpts that follow, as well as the keywords, result from this collective work, developed in a class context, in which
In the work of ADRIANA OLIVEIRA, which opens the way, repetition creates form. Touching the space of the paper, she rigorously sections the line, always making the decision about emptiness and fullness.
key concepts: construction | module | obsession | mark | rhythm | rigour | grid | exhaustion | slow temporality | trance | pattern
In the work of INÊS NÊVES, the line assumes the constructive role of the experience of the body and the space that surrounds it. The trace becomes a dynamic and multidisciplinary composition that develops temporally where the mark is the translator of the performance.
key concepts: action | line | trace | dimension | rhythm | movement | translation | body(s) | experience | communication | construction | physicality | temporality
We can say that the work of DIOGO NOGUEIRA is complex, considering that in it we can find, simultaneously, similar and contrary issues. We can already perceive that in his work there is a habitual presence of a domestic environment that in certain cases even becomes familiar and perhaps autobiographical. An extremely important issue in Diogo Nogueira’s work is the idea of the body: it is exhaustively worked on, from its mobility to the voluntary exaggeration of the canons of the lower and upper limbs, to posture and adjacent body language.
Another important aspect, which is also related to the question of the body, is the violence of posture/body language, which begins in the strokes of the work itself through to the actions portrayed in it. There are also other pertinent issues that are worked on such as: modesty; the different moments/times of action in the same work; the framing; the existence of elements created and used in different works, working as a kind of “easter egg”; the facial expressions displayed that denounce neutrality/indifference and sadness.
An extremely interesting issue in this artist’s work is the chromatic palette, as it contrasts with the pictorial motif, that is, although there is immense violence in the figures and thick brushstrokes on the pictorial plane, there is, at the same time, a calmness carried by the pastel hue of the colours.
Is it really necessary to draw you a painting?” is the title of the single channel audio-visual installation by BRUNO RODRIGUES MARTINS with Sérgio Alves and Gonçalo Carneiro. Starting from the bottom of the sea, a visual basis is created for this experience. Following its colours and movements, a work is started where sound and colour converge with each other. As this video is built on sound-reactive software, the sound itself is incited to change the built colours and shapes. In the author’s words, “as humans, we have our very own limit of where we can go, of what we can do. This work aims, on the one hand, to elucidate about that very thing, but also to show that when we humans let things happen in their natural course, unexpected things happen.”
SÉRGIO REBELO creates immersive environments through multiple image and sound projections. By creating artworks through programming and artificial intelligence, the artist blurs the boundary between art and technology. The relationship between the public and the work, as well as the importance given to the process, reveal the political character of his practice, contesting the predefinedideas of the public’s role within the “museum”.
key concepts: identity | interactivity | installation | programming | communication
VIER NEV reaks the boundary between art and technology using programming and digital design. His works are pieces under construction that take shape with the interaction of the public. Communication is a central axis in his practice, by addressing themes such as anamorphosis and Gestalt theory he leads the observer to question the basis of reality.
key concepts: identity | interactivity | installation | programming | communication
When observing the work of LEONOR NEVES, it is above all suggested to us, in all its phases, a study that focuses on movement, which tends to arise from observing the landscape, from wind to light, and all its inconstancies.
key concepts: | landscape | movement | flows | light | inconstancy
ALBERTO RODRIGUES MARQUES has been a member of zet gallery for several years. He is an interpreter of matter and colour and a stirrer of the media. His work, of performative construction, challenges the media, seeking to create textures through the excess of paint and its simultaneously chemical and organic nature. This time he presents us with a set of works on paper, which he callsdrawings, in which he creates compact patches of chromatic significance.
key concepts: colour | stain | matter | drawing | performance
MANUEL FONSECA is a stone illusionist. He moulds it and cultivates it as if it were the body of a loved one, seeking in the produced objects a game of full and empty and an intensification of the contrasts between heavy and light, bright and dark. The object proposes to inhabit and interrogate space. In the combination of endogenous and industrial resources, it links the work to the viewer, to the human being full of antagonisms.
key concepts: stone | nature | weight | suspension
In the work of DANIELA PINHEIRO both an exploration and construction of chromaticity are present. In the artist’s work, the main focus is on colour, and her pieces convey an obsession with it and the variations it can present.
key concepts: colour | vibration | geometrization of forms | module | language | chromatic construction
MARIA LUZ works intensively on the domestic through the representation of objects connected to it and their repetition, giving the chair as an example. These objects, which could be considered ordinary, are given a prominent place in the artist’s work. The latter enhances these fragments of domestic life by bringing them into the artistic medium. Maria Luz’s work may also be associated with domestic work due to the context of confinement, as well as Women and how they are socially associated with domestic tasks.
key concepts: domestic | obsession | repetition | fragments of the domestic | power | opposition | exhaustion | observation.
JOÃO CAMPOLARGO TEIXEIRA works with installations, and that makes his artworks feel conditional. To finalise his artistic expression, which uses light and sound, he should meet the technical requirements for the installation.
Joa’s installations are exhibited in a clean way with no room for excessiveness. The artworks are presented to us through the use of simple geometric shapes, familiar sounds and day to day language. With that simplicity of exhibiting he creates poetic environments.
Considering the circumstances and the form of expression, its impossible to not be perceptible. Even without the artists concept we can not ignore or disregard the light, the sounds and the simple shapes. That is how João is perceptible and how we create our own concepts about his artworks.
Helena Mendes Pereira
Third-year students of the Visual Arts degree
of the School of Architecture, Art and Design of the University of Minho
Academic year 2021/2022