30.11 > 21.12.2017
Bruno Cidra & Gonçalo Barreiros — Sleeping Village

Getting your hands dirty

Some things you can’t learn from books. Fazer andar [Schlepping it] it is an expression used by construction workers to describe the act of lifting heavy material through difficult or apparently inaccessible places using only manual techniques. Fazer andar was the title of the last joint exhibition by Bruno Cidra and Gonçalo Barreiros. Sleeping Village is the duo’s second exhibition, which sees them once again tackle the idea of a return to the fundamental principles of sculpture in a practice based on their experience of working directly with transforming a material. The title of the exhibition evokes the image of a still expanse, with something rumbling away beneath it. In exhibitions this impression is often generated by the array of concepts and references that lie hidden within the objects. In that case, the whole purpose of the exhibition’s information sheet is to dig them up, to tell the viewer that something is not merely what it appears to be, but also the whole pantheon of apparitions that it evokes. Besides the chance to read beautiful words ending in ‘ism’ or ‘city’, I often get the feeling that in some sense the information sheet is there to set out the reasons why I should persist in looking at the metaphorical corkscrew as opposed to going straight for the wine. I am not unaware that things come with their own baggage. There is, however, a certain knowingness – and indeed, a pleasure – that comes directly from handling the material itself, and which words cannot replace or even translate (after all, words have their own genealogy). Ultimately, I prefer things that dispense with their own catalogue of references and instead open up another kind of resonance, something primal and nameless. Although ostensibly bare and silent, this encounter between Bruno Cidra and Gonçalo Barreiros is focused precisely on that underlying rumble, that latent, ineffable resonance that seems to emanate from particular objects, triggered by the transformative act of being handled. Clay, an ancient material that harks back to a primordial time and experience, is used to manually reproduce various objects of an industrial nature. Railway fasteners, columns and angle brackets belong to that breed of objects that appear to have been finished at the very moment of their invention, responding as directly and perfectly as they do to the purpose for which they were invented. One might even contend that there is a sense of simulacrum here, a trompe-l'oeil effect or even a tinge of the ready-made in the attitude of reproducing existing objects with such faithfulness. Yet the truth is much simpler. Railway fasteners, columns, angle brackets and sleepers obey the basic laws of equilibrium, mass and gravity; indeed, this is the key to their effectiveness. Essentially, they already possess this rumble of sculpture within, lying dormant and merely awaiting the creator’s hand to awaken it and bring it to the surface. Feeling your way through an exhibition with words is all very well, but there are things that you can only really know if you’re willing to get your hands dirty.

Jorge André Catarino, 2017

credits © bruno lopes

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