Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jornadas Lúcidas # 3

Jornadas Lúcidas #3-Mirrors with Accent

Mirrors by Pinto Pereira 1992
Au Bord du Lac  by Patrick Bokanowski
16mm film, colour sound Michèle Bokanowski, 6', 1993 
Trypps #7 (Badlands)  by  Ben Russell
HD video, colour, sound 10', 2010
The Birth of the First Image (production of a mirror) 
a re-enactment of Manuel Alvess' performance, 1976

On January 3rd, 1968, artists Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha, in their best suits, met at a restaurant in Beverly Hills to exchange business cards they had designed for each other. The photograph of this ritual taken by mirror-master, Larry Bell, is in itself a mirrored composition with the artists facing each other and holding the card of one another. Drawing the card was to some extent an exercise of identity appropriation. 

Ruscha's card design used the blackletter Cloister, which became a trademark in his later paintings, while Billy Al approached the task conceptually and played with the pronunciation of Ed's name. Ruscha sounded like Russia, something to duck from during Cold War as it could hinder a young artist in ascension. So he wrote Rew-Shay, a name that inherited an accent reminiscent of French sophistication. What began as a joke, is to this day a phonetic practice imposed by ED Rewshay for himself and the art world. 

In 1976 a man with a heavy moustache engaged in the performance of making a mirror for a small group of art connoisseurs. This mirror's first image was the inverted face of its creator, the expatriate artist Alvess, who had recently added an extra S to his surname for a certain "air de Paris".

According to some Eastern traditions, when buying an antique mirror of unknown provenance, one should discard the mirror and keep the frame, as mirrors work as image and energy casters, constantly absorbing the life of its surroundings, as if life was an unfathomable part of the light spectrum. Older mirrors have a lot of character, and there are even notorious ones that for their dark emissions have to be kept in isolation in museum catacombs. Mirrors with past experiences also carry the accents of their times. The mirror of Alvess has undoubtedly a Parisien accent, while Gerhard Richter’s rimmed mirror "Spiegel" carries a strong Saxonic parlance. No one knows in which language the god of the Smoking Mirror spoke to Robert Smithson on his Mexican desert trip. We just know that the voice of Tezcatlipoca, coming from the cars' darkened rear mirrors, asked him to forget the soothsaying obsidian mirrors and use new mirrors to collide the mythical past and the present. 

On the evening of the 17th of May we are displaying in Oporto a collection of such rare objects: the shaped light mirrors made by the northern architect Pinto Pereira, careful compositions embedded in glass that reflect the infinitude of the cosmos as well as the mundane gesture needed to tie a tie; the film Au Bord du Lac by Patrick Bokanowski, whose warped mirrors trap the feeling of a hot summer day and a cool breeze by the water; Ben Russell’s film Trypps #7 (Badlands), an intimate portrait mirroring the psychedelically induced inner state of a girl; the homemade mirror by Alvess’, attempted by Belén Uriel, and Oporto’s 16mm projector lens, silvered on the suggestion of the artist João Maria Gusmão.

(programme sponsored by DGARTES)

Friday, May 17, 10.30 pm  

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