Ambassade de France au Portugal,
Como uma Luva (Like a glove)
Video 4:3, black & white, 10’27’’
For her first solo exhibition in Portugal, Lisbon-based artist Elisa Pône has conceived an original project for Galeria Quadrum focusing on the history as much as the physical qualities of the gallery. From its inception in 1973, and until 1995, Galeria Quadrum was designated “a laboratory for experimental Portuguese art”, a subtitle given by its founder, the artist and collector Dulce D’Agro (1915-2011). Thanks to her network, D’Agro contributed to the dissemination of the work of an entire artist generation who benefited from Galeria Quadrum’s international credentials.
Elisa Pône revives the experimental dimension of Galeria Quadrum. Pône deploys history on several paradigmatic levels by cross-referencing architectural language and signs of memory. Falso Sol Falsos Olhos (Fake Sun Fake Eyes) is an opportunity for visitors to embark on a journey that is not limited to the objects on view, but one that is rather conducted by a multi-dimensional interaction experience with the sensibilities of each visitor.
Galeria Quadrum’s almost unchanged architectural proposition performs as an open showcase, which offers myriad points of view via manifold sensory games installed by the artist. Combining her trademark materials such as smoke and sound with new aesthetic explorations, Elisa Pône connects a set of art works with interventions whose effects intervene in the gallery’s traditional functioning.
Como uma Luva (2020) is a work to be experienced remotely. Produced in honour of Dulce D’Agro, the video is available online for the duration of the exhibition. The work features a security expert carrying out an assessment of the gallery’s space, checking windows, alarms and detectors. Eventually, he’ll vanish in his own demonstration, swallowed by the smog provided by the security system on display. The thick smoke fills the space and thus reveals its volume. Video and ephemeral sculpture simultaneously, the work tests the viewer’s perceptual capacity and questions the conditions for human experience in the era of social distancing. Via the security expert’s account, Galeria Quadrum turns into a site of a fictional projection: the security discourse shifts the register and emphasizes the potential qualities of the setting. The demonstration of expertise becomes the metaphor for added value of space, where air and smoke become something else.
Blurry Shades (2020) is visible from the gallery exterior and consists of a series of smoke bomb interventions on the gallery windows. Its colour spectrum disrupts the relationship between natural and artificial light. Memory Flood (2020) is a set of light and sound works accompanied by a sculptural volume set to cross the gallery space. Visible during the day and beyond gallery opening hours at night, a luminous robot sweeps the space with its strangely disjointed rays. The programmed sequence of its beams is disrupted by a series of detectors, which trigger the robot movements according to variations in brightness, temperature and humidity.
Falso Sol Falsos Olhos (Fake Sun Fake Eyes) also features a series of ear sculptures attached to the gallery pillars. Ceramic shells that house loudspeakers, the ear sculptures broadcast a sound fiction featuring birds, which cross the green spaces in front and behind the building, as well as the blowing winds. While these natural elements fill space through sound, they also materialize via a long base sculpture that pierces the gallery on both sides thus highlighting the architects’ intention to facilitate air drafts. The airflow imposes its presence, forming a support structure that invites the viewer to appreciate points of view within the gallery and towards its external landscape.
Finally, the stairwell opposite the gallery entrance has long plaid host to the anthropomorphic sculpture Composição (ca. 1989) by Teresa Quirino (1920-2013), a Portuguese artist who was a long-term resident of the Coruchéus’s ateliers. By shifting the works position inside the gallery, Elisa Pône provides a renewed platform for Composição. Over the course of the exhibition, a professional conservator will restore the sculpture. Two synchronized lights signal the sites of this slip from one location to another, thus adding to the multi-layered sensorial experience offered by Falso Sol Falsos Olhos (Fake Sun Fake Eyes).