WHENCE RIVERS MEET TO INVENT THE SEA

I have taken the title for my exhibition at the 18th edition of the Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa / CDAP [Carpe Diem Art and Research] exhibition cycle from a (slightly altered) old saying that may be heard in Recife, the northeastern Brazilian city in which I was born.

For some years – perhaps forever now – I have contemplated the beach and sea of Boa Viagem, where I was born, and where I recognize myself whenever I return there, some thirty years after I first left it. Perhaps this is why I am more interested in rainy days, when clouds cover nearly everything and the rain hammers incessantly at the windows of houses, transforming the landscape.

I was in Recife when I was invited to develop a project for the CDAP and I immediately thought of bringing that sea to Lisbon. After that initial moment, though, my investigations led me to travel other paths, particularly in readings about the earthquake of 1755, the story of the voyage of the great library of the kings of Portugal, and the history of reading.

And so, almost imperceptibly, the sea returned to my world. This time, in hundreds of rolls of tracing paper that I covered with different shades of blue, in an allusion to the infinite colors and unending movement of oceans and seas. Like the simple gesture of drawing lines upon a sheet of paper, observing the sea extended my sense of space and time, creating a place of calm, inside which I wondered at its simplicity.

The work that emerged interweaves time and recollection; it presents matters of memory and oblivion; it lends itself to the free association of ideas. And it refers to endless things that we may only guess at, without ever being certain of what they are.

In occupying the former kitchen of the Palácio Pombal – possibly the most beautiful and mysterious room in the place – I continued to think about the library of the kings of Portugal (currently housed in Rio de Janeiro) as it spread throughout the catacombs of a Carmelite convent. Could my oceans and seas also become rare works – the secret documents of a lost library, stored away in unusual places?

Upon a long wooden table, located between the columns of the ancient kitchen, the rolls of paper are arranged side by side upon one another: infinite blues, between the green and the violet. In the small adjoining room, underneath the debris of the place, three television monitors present Boa Viagem on gray days, its seas invented by the rivers that cross the city.

 

Renato Bezerra de Mello

Lisbon, 2014