Exhibition views of our participation in the 3rd cycle of the program Sonic Geometry developed for Arquipélago – Contemporary Arts Center (S.Miguel – Azores, 2019)
The cyclic existence of the SONIC GEOMETRY project reaches its final moment. In an almost infinite succession of echoes and reverberations, the artists who have traveled to the ARQUIPÉLAGO adopted the role of researchers, opening themselves toward and focusing on the issues and mechanisms through which this territory constitutes itself geologically, meteorologically, biologically and atmospherically. Combining observation and empathy, sheltering and creating forces, mythologies, animisms, histories and beliefs, this multivoiced dialogue with the territory of the island of São Miguel has created a body that is made presented more as energy than as form, convoking the powers of the invisible. Once more, the edifice of the ARQUIPÉLAGO operated as a first structure, receiving and hosting other — material and immaterial — structures that in turn give rise to — sound, graphical, visual and sculptural — apparitions, somewhere between the clouds and the lave, the rocks and the wind, the animal and the human, the terrestrial and the extrahuman forces.
Nuno Faria Curador / Curator
This project was born of an invitation to partake in Sonic Geometry, a year long residency and exhibition program devised by Nuno Faria, Nicolau Tudela and Fátima Marques Pereira for Arquipélago Contemporary Arts Center (São Miguel, Azores) in collaboration with the Portuguese national broadcaster (RTP).
During our residency period at Arquipélago, we outlined a route and engaged with people and places that brought us closer to the genesis of these islands — from the volcanic generatrix conducing to the hot springs and from the pleasures of the skin to our body. Everything still seems lacteal to us. The density of steam and the atmospheric pressure draw the morphology of the island of São Miguel, in the streets of Ribeira Grande a boiling masculine tension. We perceive a submerged place; the chimneys of the houses like small volcanos in the Atlantic.
We were interested in subsistence practices, in the relationship with the great sea mammals and the ancient hunting techniques. Deep in a coal mine, we were transported into the belly of a whale and, as the days passed, we kept associating this animal with other visual references, its reflections in the human and geological landscape, telluric activities in the fumaroles and young people diving into the pools. We met fishermen, divers, biologists and researchers from the university of the Azores, collecting statements with different natures, we visited the Carlos Machado museum and accessed recordings of cetaceans in the sea off the islands. At this point, we made a short video and presented it in our open studio, during the residency.
We came back to Porto and lost most of the footage we had recorded in our trip. We managed to recover the statements about the whale sightings and remembered a conversation we had about the consumption of dolphin meat. Later, we found a ruling on a complaint concerning a show produced by RTP in the 1990s, telling of two versions of a news report about illegal dolphin hunting that showed a couple eating a dolphin steak at a local restaurant. It was a very interesting document, that brought up issues concerning the representation of cultural identity and the narrative that is built around morals and ethics.
During the period we were focusing on RTP’s website, while we were still envisioning a sci-fi work with Jonathan, using excerpts from the archive, we found thirty seconds of footage depicting an actress in a TV show on theatric techniques. That woman’s sequence of expressions seemed to describe the tension we had been talking about while we were on the island. At the same time, we discovered a Shunga image (Japanese erotic art form) that led us into the depths — an octopus making love with a mermaid.
Still in residence, one of the places that interested us the most was a group of houses in Sete Cidades whose lines evoke the vernacular architecture of the islands and the traditional dwellings of the northeast of São Miguel, with their exterior ovens and protruding chimneys. This led us into making a survey of the morphology and typology of the chimneys found in the archipelago, including hydrothermal vents and volcanoes, or the vents of kitchen ovens and factory kilns. From this process emerged a series of sculptures and drawings, which we developed based on our experiences on the island. Once again, the genesis, the magma, the steam, the milk, the boiling tension.
Mariana Caló e Francisco Queimadela