A prototype is an early form given to a material. The prototype can be understood as a model subject to modification – it can be developed, or it can remain undeveloped. Footnote 15 aims to explore the prototypical in the works of Portuguese, Polish, Brazilian, Argentinian and American artists of different generations, whose practice shares the avant-garde languages of modular systems and geometric abstraction.
This project is an ongoing collaboration between Ana Cardoso – Portuguese artist based in Lisbon and New York, and Barbara Piwowarska – Polish curator based in Porto where she works at Casa São Roque. The conversation between the two started in 2020 at Ana Cardoso’s studio. Cardoso showed Piwowarska a prototypical idea for a group exhibition, in which hers and other contemporary paintings would dialogue with abstract works by the Polish-Russian sculptor Katarzyna Kobro whose practice pivoted between Constructivism and Unism. Coincidently, Kobro was also Piwowarska’s point of departure for her ongoing “footnote project” that commenced in 2010 in Warsaw. As a project on the margins of history and the avant-gardes, it explored the extraordinary and lesser-known reception of Kobro’s work, both in South and North America in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Kobro had developed her abstract compositions in the 1920–30’s in relation to the viewer’s body, unifying time-space, upholding the rhythm of human life, and in discussion with the Constructivist legacy, Neo-Plasticism, and Concrete Art. Interestingly, her work corresponds deeply with achievements of Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement of the 1960’s, and especially Lygia Clark. Cardoso and Piwowarska decided to develop the next, Portuguese stage of the project, inviting local and international artists who investigate the same realm.
For the Footnote 15: As Prototype exhibition Cardoso contributes the installation of several panels completed in 2022. By the entrance, she invites the audience to activate a set of canvases on a plinth (Protótipo), to experiment with its various possible formations. Kobro’s historical sculptures from 1922–1933 are present in the exhibition through the documentary by Józef Robakowski Spatial Compositions by Katarzyna Kobro (1971), but also in a video installation by Igor Krenz Correction of Tilt (2007), which, presented on a skewed monitor depicts the Neo-Plasticist room of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź designed by Władysław Strzemiński in 1948. Monika Sosnowska presents a sketch for a sculpture and a very small model for the large-scale installation Bon Voyage from 2000, resembling Kobro’s spatial compositions or de Stijl’s and van Doesburg’s architectural models. Union Gaucha Productions (Karin Schneider and Nicolás Guagnini) contribute with their 1998 experimental footage film Phantom Limb, in which for the first time ever the work of Kobro and Clark was brought together.
Eileen Quinlan contributes with five panels of polaroids depicting “manipulative compositions” made of Magna-Tiles toys, played with and by her children, including First Things First (2022) that follow her previous series known as Play Time (2014). Jorge Pinheiro, for whom “um objecto é sempre projecto de novo objecto” (“an object is always a project for the new object”), presents drawings derived from Fibonacci sequences, his historical pink Plexiglas sculpture (1970) and Prototype for Madame Butterfly (1970/2010). Tomás Cunha Ferreira, whose work for years remains in a close dialogue with the practice of Ana Cardoso, and who has been defining his work as prototype and a “quasi-mutant object” will conclude Footnote 15 with his site-specific intervention Murmur (2022), consisting of small objects installed in the last stage of the exhibition’s assembly.
Footnote is an ongoing project employing a “methodology of margins”, referencing existing institutions, situations and concepts in the format of exhibitions and interventions. Past iterations organized between 2010–2021 included: Footnote 1: Phantom Limb (CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw); Footnote 2: Correction (Silberkuppe, Berlin); Footnote 3: Andrea Fraser (Foksal Gallery, Warsaw); Footnote 5: Screening Space (MUMOK, Vienna); Footnote 6: As Model (Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York); Footnote 10: Museum of the Unknown (Centre Pompidou, Paris); Footnote 11: Volodymirskyi Market (Kiev Art Week, Kiev); Footnote 12: No Medium (Academy of Fine Arts / Exhibitions Bureau, Warsaw); and Footnote 14: Angel of History (Casa São Roque, Porto).