After my first enthusiastic discovery of the Carpe Diem art center (currently celebrating its fifth anniversary), I returned there for its new exhibition (through December 20). It is a remarkable and demanding space, one that requires density from the works on exhibition that they may live up to the spirit of the place. This time around I was less convinced by some of the pieces presented here, too neutral or perhaps too lightweight and ironic (the work of art as trash…) whereas, once again, others ably occupy the space with power and dignity.
In one of the main halls, Mafalda Santos has built a wall out of piles of sheets of paper, creating subtle effects of color that shade their edges along with the play of sunlight: it is a destruction, a library in ruins, a funerary monument to paper, to books, a memorial to dead bureaucracies. It is also a minimalist sculpture, a deceptively light obstacle that must be circumvented and against which the body measures itself in vain, occasionally imprinting its shadow upon it.
In the kitchen, one is confronted by another work of memory, another monument: this one aquatic, marine, flexible and convex; of a thousand shades of blue from gray to azure. Wondering at the ocean that separates Lisbon from his own city of Recife, Renato Bezerra de Mello has heaped hundreds of rolls of blue-tinted paper upon a long table. This accumulation engenders a sense of preposterous beauty, human impotence and dreamy nostalgia that is emphasized by three videos of wet, foggy seascapes hidden away in the room’s dark corners.
The exhibition also showcases the interesting postcolonial work of Sandro Ferreira, in addition to the “wordplay” of Tim Etchells (an ubiquitous presence in Lisbon this year) that accompanies a series of photographs of texts in the city (graffiti, slogans…) by young amateurs, some of whom are quite gifted.