From March 6 to May 15, 2022, Love Song, a solo exhibition by Pedro Barateiro, with works by Mário Varela Gomes and Aurélia de Souza, curated by Elfi Turpin.
Dear friend / lover / stranger,
On a recent trip to the Azores, I visited the weather station that monitors earthquakes, temperature and wind in the city of Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira Island. The archipelago is located in the middle of the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the area is known to produce the Azores High, which includes wind patterns that have a strong effect on the weather in Europe and North America.
Wind played an important role during the Portuguese colonial campaign. The capacity to manipulate wind, water currents and navigation tools brought a group of beings to slaughter, enslave and contaminate others, with the purpose of “civilizing” them. As the narrative tells us, this is the beginning of modern globalization and capitalism. European culture, based on the domination of nature through agriculture, planned an expansion of dogmas. Liberated from religion, the development of science, as well as human-centered myths (or multiple fictions), helped to expand the idea of private subjective capital as the ultimate form of emancipation of the human body and mind. Culture was forged and manipulated by human minds, performed by repressed bodies. A culture of repression was established and cherished; the human body was objectified through art and science. The production of objects became an obsession. Mirrors were perfected to accompany and fulfill an ever-growing expansion of the human gaze. The clash was inevitable: a clash between the self and the environment.
In their book Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, the collective Tiqqun wrote: “At the beginning of the 1920s, capitalism realized that it could no longer maintain itself as the exploitation of human labor if it did not also colonize everything that is beyond the strict sphere of production. Faced with the challenge from socialism, capital too would have to socialize. It had to create its own culture, its own leisure, medicine, urbanism, sentimental education and its own mores, as well as a disposition toward their perpetual renewal.”
During the trip I went for a long lonely walk in a place called Mistérios Negros [Dark Mysteries], a volcanic rock formation that continues to grow among small bushes. At some point, between rocks, wind, moisture, and speedy clouds passing above my head, I could no longer distinguish whether I was on top of a mountain or underwater. I had the weird sensation of being part of that place, and at the same time, I felt like the most unnecessary being walking on those stones. And for a few minutes, I disappeared. On the island I experienced many varied and fast-changing emotions. Everything moved faster and the presence of the wind felt almost as if it wanted to speak. I had to stop trying to understand what was happening around me and just be there. I was present. I felt I was present. I don’t know why I’m mentioning this. I often try to find the absurd in common, everyday actions and objects, it brings purpose.
In fact, I have been thinking a lot about the wind. Like time, the wind can be felt and represented, affecting things in so many ways, and yet it has no form. It has to do with my interest in immateriality, in speech, in things felt and not represented. I’ve always felt like a quantum computer, considering the rotation of the Earth in my calculations and how things change and evolve. An obsession of mine is watching the live stream of the International Space Station (ISS). Cameras follow the rotation of the Earth. The ISS is also a weather station and, like an art space, it monitors changes in the environment, it tries to predict future events and their effects on our lives. It assures me that I am here, we are here. We can say that what these cameras record is real, or at least we agree that they exist and record events in front of them. Well, at least some of us believe that. It is necessary to fight ignorance with facts.
Love Song is organized in collaboration with Casa da Cerca—Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Almada, as part of Saison France-Portugal 2022, and received additional support from Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian—Délégation en France.