16.02 > 09.03.2017
Henrique Pavão
Wherever I am not is the place where I am Myself

An oily dark cloud engulfs everything, blending water, earth and sky with such perfection that distinguishing them is not possible anymore. Everything is wet and black. The horizon is finally touchable. Space is at last homogenized. An oversized kaleidoscope where every object is out of scale reflecting and deflecting one another on an immensity of angles. By this time everything had to be moveable so as to avoid destruction,i It was with this premise that the tanks were created, in contrast to the bunkers, which almost seem to have been placed there as if begging to be pierced, exploded and cracked. I doubt that these monoliths were ever meant to survive throughout time; one can easily imagine the power of the enemy’s impact, just by glancing at the thickness of their walls. It is relevant to mention the artist’s desire for his works to be destroyed, as it is the only way to progress. However, giving stillness to the things created means the artist needs to be in constant movement. The collapsing of a work means the rising of the next one, forcing him to move in between them - his mobility exists on behalf of the one mobility of the works. By destruction he loses. That is all that matters. His steps are moved by the desire of constant loss. Nostalgia is what keeps his work awake. After all, is there anything more powerful than what we can no longer access?
Absence draws a path leading to an emptiness that needs to be filled. It is a mode of travelling in which clean footprints are left behind by the irreversibility of his steps, driven by the need for recovery. As he walks through the ruins of his past he sees a future built out of the same mental cinders. It strikes me how much we can destroy and build just by travelling. This liminal act is where creation takes place. It is alongside this travel that interment comes into play; it is also when seeds are thrown through the window of a car and left alone on a fertile ground for something to grow. Did you ever find yourself digging up something you have buried a few years before? If so I should tell you for sure that its history will never be fully recovered because the past always stays silent and never wants to be disturbed, but I guess you will reach the conclusion that you are acting dangerously by yourself. However, if you do want to take that risk, then the fulfilment of being reminded of its absence might help you to bury it again but this time in an impenetrable, bulletproof grave. We can only forget by being reminded of the absence of things. A massive grave was found on the outskirts of the city, more than 100 hectares of vertical destruction accumulated over 130 years, allowed for the vertical construction of the adjacent architecture. The quarry is surrounded by luxury condominiums, built around its rim, and its inhabitants face perpetually onto a steep canyon, probably unaware that the place they stand on was taken from the place they look at. The quarry was once a loud and dusty place, a limestone theatre whose play was endlessly sound tracked by rubber and cement. After leaving it behind one would constantly hear the feathers of the pillow drumming the sound of the traffic over the rusty bridge.
It rests now neglected and exposed to emptiness, like the bunkers on the Atlantic coast, where destruction acts calmly, echoing over a vast sea of drowned memories. In such places, there is always a fraction being consumed by the absence of men’s hands, because the hands of man delay space’s intentions for objects, postponing their natural deterioration. Now, picture this: a tall Scandinavian man wearing a bathrobe and having a coffee on the balcony of his luxury apartment, doomed with a view of a dusty dungeon beneath his feet. The hole works as a reminder of his foundations, as a monumental vacancy that defines, without trying, the memory traces of an abandoned set of futures (II). Is this giant cupola a monument to the past, or is it a monument to the future? A romantic ruin or a ruin in reverse? It is hard to tell.

Henrique Pavão, 2017

I Paul Virilio, Bunker Archeology (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1994), 41.
II Robert Smithson, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey” in The Writings of Robert Smithson, ed. Nancy Holt (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 55.

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