Unmemorable Place in Time
Venue : Fosun Foundation Art Center, Museu Colecção Berardo
Organization : Fosun Foundation
Vasco Araújo, Guan Xiao, Shi Yong, Luísa Jacinto, Luísa Jacinto, Cheng Ran, Pedro Valdez Cardoso, Rui Moreira, André Sousa, Joana Vasconcelos and others
The untranslatable Portuguese word, saudade, conveys a desire for a past moment that may be forever unattainable. In many directions this word speaks of the current situation we are facing, where going back to the sweet past seems to be so convenient because of the overwhelming desperation generated by the terrifying present and future. In the midst of globalization which reveals itself in the forms such as cross-border trade and cultural exchange, we are strongly searching for connection with others to identify ourselves, as well as ideals and hopes among the past and the future.
Nevertheless, the ambiguous and unstable situation that we are situated in makes it rather spiny for us to grasp anything for sure. Nowadays in our lives, so many things are changing on a daily basis, that sometimes we cannot even remember what happened to ourselves yesterday or what was our neighborhood like 10 years ago. The past and the present are in a certain condition with ambiguity and opacity. As for the future as well, in the current social and political situation, we are not able to predict the future in ten years. We can even say that there are some conversions of time as if we are literally living Sci-Fi.
Saudade comes as an efficacious tranquilizer when human beings have to face the fact that we have begun to be centrifugalized after running too fast in the whirl of anthropocentrism, and that we are being forced into corners by information redundancy, as well as great regional, ethnic and social discrepancy in the multi-cultural context where creolization is yet to be fully acknowledged. At this stage, the further and deeper network sprawls, the more the syndrome of alienation and nostalgia gets reported —so is in China, so is in Portugal, so is anywhere else. Yann Martel in his book The High Mountains of Portugal notes through one character’s mouth that everyone “smells of time and radiates solitude”. And it’s definitely not only a problem of 5-hydroxytryptamine. Before we come to the ultimate solution, which perhaps doesn’t exist at all, or at least won’t arrive in an apocalyptical way which many are longing in hope, roaming and resonating with the tranquilizer critically might just work as well.
In The Book of Disquiet, Portuguese philosopher Fernando Pessoa touched on one of the signature-like art styles of Europe: Baroque. To him, Baroque is mobility, a process of passing through all things, constantly touch on the others, and to the end generally becoming the others, or in other words, becoming the Other to the Self. Umberto Eco regarded Baroque as a dynamic uncertainty, and questioned whether it was the Baptism that provided the prototype of Baroque. The festivity that once belonged to Baroque now seems to be history, but the contemporary age has its own form of festivity, embracing all the possibilities that human beings invent to fit in where we are, or to go back to the aforementioned concept, all kinds of tranquilizers that help us survive the somewhat awkward situation.
Reflecting on these cultural and philosophical notions, I selected the 12 artists from Portugal and China, within whose expressions two remarkable characteristics stands out.
"Saudade—Unmemorable Place of Time: Chinese & Portuguese Contemporary Art Exhibition" Yuko Hasegawa (Exerpts from catalog text)