Eternally Collapsing Objects

João Ferro Martins

1/13

The Galerias Municipais are pleased to present a solo exhibition by Lisbon–based artist João Ferro Martins (*1979, Santarém). Wandering through the four galleries of Lisbon’s Pavilhão Branco and the exhibition Eternally Collapsing Objects is akin to the sensation of stepping onto a stage or theatre set. Eternally Collapsing Objects evokes a planetary system absorbed by black holes, humanity going to glory and being reborn and thus in eternal renewal.

Upon entering the pavilion, the spectator agrees to participate in a provocative narration of tales that unfold in a circular passage. The viewers’ path through Pavilhão Branco follows the habitual Möbius strip style visitation. The images of devastation, circulating on news media after a hurricane or tsunami hit a coastline, come to mind in the first gallery. We are confronted with a group of objects that could have once been displayed in a shop front window, yet were dispensed with now. Welcome to dystopia — elegantly orchestrated on carpeted flooring and masked by curtains floating in the glass pavilion galleries.

From a workshop environment one is catapulted to a makeshift recording studio. Looking around the sculptural metaphors, the viewer is once more reminded of the fact that music is not physical matter but ephemeral. Eternally Collapsing Objects places the remnants of a whirlwind against the neatness of a bygone record industry era. The upper galleries host dozens of found loudspeakers referencing the (muted) PA system that has appeared on manifold occasions in the artists work. The vinyl records displayed in analogy indicate an allusion to sound and music, paramount to the artist’s practice. The medium is nevertheless mysteriously absent from this exhibition, except for the forthcoming vinyl record publication.

For this Gesamtkunstwerk installation in Pavilhão Branco, João Ferro Martins made a selection from the collection of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden—Archiv der Avantgarden. On view is a wide array of references including vinyl record classics from the 1950s (Karlheinz Stockhausen) to the 1980s (Laurie Anderson) and 90s (Meredith Monk), with Fluxus in between (Philip Corner, Ben Vautier), and sound poetry (Sten Hanson) or musique concrète (Pierre Henry), to the also seminal I am sitting in a Room (1969) by Alvin Lucier, which exploits the resonant frequencies of the room one is sitting in. Equally, Ferro Martins suggested his work inspires the notion of bodies being played, of bodies following his sculptural score. If Pavilhão Branco is a resonance chamber for our voices, while the artist’s sculptures provide a further annotation, then the sounds of the birds nested in the surrounding tree crowns and the peacocks inhabiting the museum garden also contribute to the imminent sound spheres we are encountering here.

On the occasion of João Ferro Martins’ exhibition Eternally Collapsing Objects, the Galerias Municipais will publish a limited vinyl record edition featuring João Ferro Martins’ compositions. Ana Teresa Ascenção designed the publication.

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