Wolfgang Tillmans (at the Serralves Museum until April 25, 2016) is a man of limits, borders, open spaces and ambiguities: a man who balances his art, sometimes precariously, in between. Here, many photographs are ambiguous, in between day and night, in between sky and sea –or maybe it is the ground? Almost everything here is atmospheric, intangible, indefinable, oscillating between liquid and gas forms. There are few straight lines –save for the horizon–, everything is sinuous, fluid. Is this a cloud? a wave? a contrail from an aircraft? Or are those only illusions, fabricated in the darkroom (since the artist swears blind he does not use Photoshop)? Continue reading
A large room, flooded by light on the day of my visit. A black Yamaha baby grand piano in the middle, isolated: no bench, no pianist. On the floor, some black dust: was the piano planed down, was its varnish grated, is the dust made of shavings? A melody plays by itself: a vaguely familiar air, obviously played as if by a beginner. Then, after a slow walk down the long access ramp, a closer look: the piano keys are automatically pressed and released, one by one, and, in fact, there is an electronic control unit that commands it all. The –presumed– artificial black snow on the floor does not melt, the –supposed– pianist is not here. As for the audible melody, it is a clumsy interpretation of an emblematic tune of the last European revolution, which took place here, in Portugal: the end of an era, the end of a great hope (even if the air is still sung in Portugal: the government is sometimes “Grandoled”). And, to boot, a lozenge of light on the wood floor, and a pretty, smiling museum guard. Continue reading
The Serralves Foundation in Porto has organised two days of performance art, a rather modest event in comparison to the Nouveau Festival at Centre Pompidou or Performa, but the compact timeframe of these two days displayed a wide variety of approaches, and therefore offered an opportunity to examine the very definition of performance art. In such a vein, does the simple reading of a text (a text which was not fully comprehensible to me), read without the least theatrical intonation and with a heavy monotone voice during roughly an hour, really constitute performance art (Isabel Carvalho, Tartaruga)?