Apuntes para un tiempo geológico_05/11/19_07/30/19_Dossier

_Curator: Virginia Torrente
_Sergio Carronha. 1984, Cascais, Portugal_Maria Laet. 1982, Río de Janeiro, Brasil_Clara Sánchez Sala. 1987, Alicante, Spain

Could anything be more universal than a stone (Maria Laet, Rio de Janeiro, 1982), a river (Sergio Carronha, Cascais, 1984) or a landscape (Clara Sánchez Sala, Alicante, 1987)?

Holding tightly to the earth, trying to live with the geological calendar that goes against the hurried regulation of current time’s flow. Following calmer principles where slowness typifies artistic work that is closer to nature, whether in the countryside (Sergio Carronha), the artist’s studio in the city (Clara Sánchez Sala) or even in the artist’s hand, as with the case of Maria Laet and her work “Duas Pedras”.

The artists present in this exhibition work in a tempered manner, observing nature directly, upholding a paradise of their own with the ruins of the world, as found all around us. In a certain sense, each organises a personal landscape, placing themselves inside of it, within nature’s core.

Go to the country to find stones like ideas, in a switch of habitual artistic activity inside the studio, to rediscover a creative way of working, wandering above and below the line of the earth, exploring and caressing its surface.

Amidst rampant acceleration, there are those who seek to detain themselves to be able to observe, pursuing quite another speed. Yet where might this velocity be found? In a peripheral resistance as practised by certain artists, perhaps including those present in this exhibition. The periphery is a place for positive creative action, reviving the ideas of Oswaldo de Andrade: we are going to highlight this periphery, here in Badajoz. These border terrains between Spain and Portugal, where interesting things happen. Going back to the countryside, making a choice to stay amongst the people; committing oneself to a life near nature that is respectful towards it, while as an artist also being dedicated to work that expresses this connection with a more paused way of doing things, with materials at one’s side, leaving from the front door of the house, the open door of the studio that looks onto the landscape. This is what Sergio Carronha does in a rather militant way in the Portuguese town of Alentejo where he lives.

Artistic resolutions that imply new ways of reconnecting with nature, through its primary sources. By means of pure organic materials, drawing with pigments made by the artist himself (Sergio Carronha), or recycling thrown-out book covers, found in a town’s green point and converted into a wall vine, a tattoo in negative, using practices from the 19th century (Clara Sánchez Sala). Letting oneself be carried by the very consistency of these materials, connecting with their behaviour, with the inherent poetry conserved and defended in stone, mud, marble…. 

This paused geological time involves walking in nature, and when doing so, letting seeds latch on to the soles of your shoes, with weeds stretching the land like ideas, carrying them from one place to another, in a patient, intentional manner.

Faced with current anthropocenic speed, we defend geological time, as a kind of pause. To do things slowly. To rethink nature. To defend a tradition, a language and a philosophy in the experiences of daily life.

In 1966, in his essay “Entropy and New Monuments”, Robert Smithson spoke of the confrontation of traditional materials of earthly origin in the use of sculpture, contrasted by artificial materials created by man. He concludes that these latter “are not made to last decades, but rather are made to oppose time.”

The artists participating in this exhibition are dreamers of a geological time, deserting the speed imposed on our current society; they are seekers of a new harmony that they surround themselves with, something still possible and compatible with the times we live in. The civil disobedience Thoreau practiced could in our day consist of resisting acceleration, reviving past stories and bringing them into the present so as to not forget them, working in the periphery in a relaxed manner, far from the hot spots where contemporary art is made known.

In this exhibition, we latch on to the idea of Robert Hughes, to the time when “nature was still the infallible regulator of thought and an unextinguishable storeroom of forms for the artist…”

Drawing existed before language appeared. Objects have no history until we activate it, in an action that works as a sort of archaeological dream, unveiling the memory of its past.

“A thing is never just an object, but a fossil in which a constellation of forces are petrified.”

Hito Steyerl

Virgina Torrente