Yesterday evening I attended the opening of "Mnemis: dogma da visibilidade silenciosa" or "Mnemis: dogma of silent visibility" - an exhibition by Brazilian artists Margarida Holler and Marlene Stamm, at Espaço T, Quase Galeria, Porto, Portugal. Espaço T is a space that aims to promote social inclusion using art as a way to engage and integrate people within Porto society and beyond. As the organisation's mission statement suggests, people are often forced to fit into boxes in society and wear masks as a way to conform and hide their way of being. Espaço T sets out to break this cycle reflecting a vision of a 'real' world where people can reveal this invisible inner self. The building houses an atelier space, an artist-inspired loja da felicidade or 'shop of happiness', tranquil garden and comfy living room space and library, alongside a gallery space for exhibitions.
São Paulo-based artist Margarida Holler's sensitively creates an inner space as she responds to the interiors of Espaço T's Quase Galeria, creating a suspension of a translucent veil-like material, which forms an enclosure within which one can enter. The intention of this enclosed space remains open to each viewer or participant who activates the space either by seeking refuge or protection from the outer world. However, the space also offers a fuzzy, distorted viewpoint outside as the viewer can peer out and see the world anew. Here, one could imagine a suspension of time too, although the structure of the installation also encourages people to look up at a suspended cellular or embryo-like object attached to an umbilical cord, which seemingly reaches to the sky - perhaps like the germination of a dream. Here, the constant electric, lamp-lit shadows contrast the passage of time as the skylight reveals the movement of natural light as day fades to night.
Margarida's work continues in the main gallery space as a vibrant inner body space takes over the centre of the room in an elaborate, tightly wound-up mass of 'corporal' matter with an inner nucleus, composed of hidden text - perhaps taken from lines of poetry which can be found written in Portuguese in the exhibition catalogue.
The intricate work of fellow São Paulo artist Marlene Stamm encompasses the space as a continuous row of watercoloured burnt out matches line the walls as if to form a continuous suspension of time. Here we imagine brief, split units of time as a match strikes and a silent yet underrated energy is released, disperses and fades to form a memory. Underneath, a handwritten, mantra-like text captures the steady yet constant count and splitting of time: "quarenta e dois segundes e um décimo.. " Moving closer to the wall, delicate, hyper-real drawings of electrical wires wind their way in and out of the room's plug sockets as if to energise the space further with a constant hum or vibration, something perhaps which the unobservant viewer may overlook - blink and you'll miss it! Both Holler and Stamm playfully reveal a silent, invisible alter-reality which oozes with an energetic vibrancy - the silence screams with visual poetry.
The exhibition is open from 27 September - 14 October.