Artistas | Pavel Büchler, Nina Chua, Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Tiago Duarte, Nicola Ellis, Mary Griffiths, Shona Harrison, Ana Rosa Hopkins, Jo McGonigal, Fiona McKillop, Eileen O’Rouke, Richard Proffitt, Maeve Rendle, Evangelia Spiliopoulou.
Curadoria | Tiago Duarte e Ian Rawlinson
A exposição, para a qual foram selecionados trabalhos dos recém-graduados do Mestrado em Belas Artes da Manchester School of Art e dos seus tutores, é um convite a refletir como as práticas artísticas podem beneficiar de uma discussão partilhada e de uma experiência comum manifestada através de dez anos de teoria e prática. Apresenta um retrato da pedagogia desenvolvida a partir de um debate sobre a natureza dos trabalhos artísticos, caracterizado pela mudança de pensar o “trabalho da arte” em oposição à reflexão sobre a “obra de arte”.
“Cabedal” retira o seu nome da palavra portuguesa cabedal, sendo especificamente um material espesso e trabalhado – o tipo usado para sapatos e selas –, palavra que descreve um material forte e resistente, feito para durar. Idiomaticamente a palavra significa saúde e força mas aqui cabedal é uma referência a uma marca duradoura deixada nas coisas que vivem depois da morte do seu autor. Reflete o enfoque da exposição nas formas como os artistas investem num tratamento estético da superfície do objecto artístico como um índice de significado, autoridade e memória.
As qualidades do material que são expressas na superfície desses objetos, revelam não só a prática artística na realização dessas “coisas” mas servem para sublinhar questões curatoriais de sedução e rejeição na produção estética. Esta superfície trabalhada é assim, não tanto uma consideração da camada superficial da vida moderna mas uma área carregada de reinvenção, uma pele espessa, – como a palavra portuguesa diria – cabedal.
“On the day we sailed, going through a narrow street with the residences of demented countesses, the shops of hallucinated bird dealers, and tourists bars where the English went for their morning gin transfusion, the taxi dropped us beside the Tagus on a strip of sand called Belem, according to what could be read on the nearby train stop with a scale on one side and a urinal on the other, and he caught sight of hundreds of people and teams of oxen that were bringing stone blocks for a huge building…”
In “The Return of the Caravels”, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Groove Press, New York, 1988
Manchester to Lisbon to Manchester
The white light that fills the atmosphere on a cold and crispy November day is no news for these prosperous cities at the western edge of Europe.
Somewhere from amongst the beloved seven hills of one of this cities caravels were carved out of the best available wood for the maritime enterprise that would make Lisbon one of the great commercial centres of the 16th, 17th and 18th century. At an equal latitude but further north of the Bay of Biscay, Manchester was still an embryonic project; this northern capital could not guess what links would emerge between the Portuguese voyage and the immanent economic boom that would transform the face of these cities and of the world.
In a time of enlightenment Lisbon carried the sounds that surrounded the busy streets flooded by small industries; The labour implied in the project of making the world a smaller place, blacksmiths, carpenters, food and spice markets, map making workshops, maritime academies, tanneries and the ever eternal flux of people in their day to day trades of a market place that each day presented something unknown to the traditional trade of the plazas of Europe.
Up north the dream of industry was being forged. As vast land resources opened up the planet diminished in size. Industry and its various implications for labour were redesigned and equipped with the propulsion to feed a market that was becoming global. In this world the craft attributes of the commodity where adapted to the speed necessary to manufacture and distribute product to the globe. Though the European enterprise ‘discovered’ land and rediscovered a use for its substances, a voracious capacity for distribution was immanent at the heart of its endeavour.
It seems that somehow the implication of both these enterprises, distinctive in intention and design, has had a strong influence on artists’ behaviour and achievements. The contradictions of both the expansion of the known world and the invention of the “modern commodity” shaped our cities, cultures and minds.
We wonder at how meaning can be extracted from the brutal social and economic transformations of the last three centuries in relation to the art being produced today? At how we draw a line from what has had a direct influence on production (whatever its nature) and what has not?
The overheated pressure to produce, to be productive, is matched only by the overwhelming call to consume and both are coercively established as the defining feature of modern existence.
To quote Peter Fischli – ‘There’s certainly a pleasure in occupying yourself with something for an unreasonable length of time’ (Fischli & Weiss, Flowers and Questions, Tate Modern, 2007) and this rebellion is a form of resistance to the choking and coercive social order that reproduces itself at every turn. To be modern is to be in a condition of alienation – and the condition of the artist is to be re-productive in the absence of any utilitarian, societal or ecological demand for art.
Although technological obsolescence is the conspicuous driving force of our current economy, artists continue to forge meaning from the availability of materials to work with. It seems that more than anything – meaning, for the artists, is extracted from the labouring activities of art itself. The doing as much as the making.
In Cabedal we encounter touch and manipulation, the savoir faire shoulder to shoulder with the motivation of intellectual nature and cerebral intention. These two notions are explored without confrontation. The expectancy for deliverance does not arrive solemnly from our attempt to comprehend but from our perceptive system as well. Without the “presumptuousness” of wanting something more from the art object than what it perceptively offers this exhibition is an invitation, an open door, an assumed “come and see”.
Cabedal is a word that describes a material by itself strong and resistant, made with the intention of lasting throughout its long use as an accessory or as a working tool. But, here ‘Cabedal’ is an allusion to the visible remains of things that have been done. Referencing not just the ephemerae of life in the scale of time but expressing the perversity of a long lasting “mark” left on things that tragically outlive their author. This exhibition intends to show how surface is worked through as both an aesthetic and conceptual concern and how different artists have played out these same concerns across different modes of production.
Superficially a dialogue emerges between how things look and our ambition to “understand through looking”. It is at the skin of each work that the physical theatre for artistic expression can be found – debating and deliberating surface and its appearance as a register of meaning, authority and memory.
The corporeal appearance of a surface allows our perception to uncover some of the methods and techniques utilized by the artists in the action of doing; the modus operandi with which each artist conducts their fabrication or alteration of objects. On the other hand our limited visual perceptions seduce or distract, revolt or emphasise without resolving or revealing.
“The true reality of an object lies only in a part of it; the rest is the heavy tribute it pays to the material world in exchange for its existence in space.”
In The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa, Serpent’s Tail, London, 1991.
These objects and their appearance operate in the most honest and perverse method of captivation by acting as bait for the eye. It is in the perceptive triangulation between object, its appearance and it’s possible “meaning” that surface acts as the intermediate channel between spectator and spectacle engaging the viewer with the art.
It is with these notions of surface, superficial and superfluous intertwined with the universal human condition for signifying and significance, that the show effects a release from notions of pure aesthetics, from veneers of appearance to justify deeper meanings.
In Cabedal the formal aspect of things are explored at the surface level. They confront us with not just the artistic practice in the making of these “things” but with questions of seduction and rejection. Cabedal is addressed and conducted through a code of “appearances” that manifest formal visual qualities by denuding the materials and ethics of production for such things.
In English to be possessed of a ‘thick skin’ is to be insensitive, however, here as Cabedal – it is to be of substance, resistant, strong and virile.