Identities and Collectivities
EXISTENCE is the state of what exists. To exist is to be. To be is to have an existence and an identity.
Identity is the group of characteristics that distinguish a person or a thing and through which it is possible to be an individual. The self is the individuality of the human being.
Existence is itself only a dialectic. A self-referencing sequence. A metaconcept.
“Who I am”, “who we are” and “what makes me different from the herd.” Questions that go beyond time, culture, space. The only way to certify existence is to conceive “non-existence”; this makes drastically suspect our understanding of what it is “to be.”
But it is true that we are. Or at least, this is what we have to believe in. In order to be. And about this, Sartre said, “man is condemned to be free”. The weight of freedom is in being responsible for one’s Being. And it is being, that the man shapes his identity. The weight of this choice is not his burden alone. It affects all the group.
“We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each bit, each moment, plays its own game. and there is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others” - Michel de Montaigne, Essais, Volume 2, I (1580)
Each SELF has an identity: formed by a constant and pulsing flux of small events, that shape personality, subjectivity, visible or hidden characteristics that, although seemingly measured, are the result of choices that affect not only the self, but everything. This is the heavy burden of freedom.
And what happens when these small events multiply and become hypertextualized? Does the identity become formed or deformed by the superabundance of simultaneous and, paradoxically, multi-dimensional and asynchronous events and episodes? This reflection, although it flirts with implausibility, is put in the dialectic of the present. And it is the object of investigation of this second edition of Virei Viral, a project dedicated to exploring issues of contemporary culture through their manifestation in artistic expression.
Once identity is a universal power, collectivity also arises as another nebulous object – not just correlated – but intrinsically connected. Identities and Collectivities.
In contemporary culture, they conflict – as seen in the thinking of zigmunt Bauman – with words like: fluidity, fragmentation, volatility – in an equation where to multiply is, paradoxically, to divide and separate. The curatorship of the second edition of Virei Viral sought to present works that reflect, question, ridicule, reverberate, controvert or simply depict points of view of artists concerned with the inexorable and timeless, but flexible and multivalent question of identity and its resulting collectivity.
As a curatorial result, the selected artists address facets of the ego in distinct ways, that generate an intense philosophical dialogue. The curatorial research was developed, therefore, in a multidisciplinary way. Revisiting classical philosophy, passing through the linguistic discussion of “real”/images/meaning, the questioning of sight and the belief of truth in images. Aristotle, hume, Sartre, Merleau-ponty and Didi-huberman, like so many other thinkers and philosophers who questioned existence, as in the melancholy of Nietzsche, searching for coherence in the psychology of Lacan and in the ultra-contemporary work of Bruno Latour and his Actor-Network Theory.
Exploring sensations through diverse artistic materials and foundations, the Exhibition Design, the Art Direction and the Curatorship seek to reveal traces of identity: its subtle and fragile side, and its pulsating, excessively antagonistic side.
We see the elegant contrast between the surrealist video of Antonia Leite and the painted photos of Mestre Júlio; the faith that we deposit in images in objection to the valorization of individual perception, questioned in the work of photographer Claudia Jaguaribe, in the imaginary Polaroid photography of Tom Lisboa, in the accurate argument of Khalil Charif in "O que vemos o que nos olha" (what we see looks back on us).
Narratives which blend stories of nostalgia, ephemerality, standardization and belonging are seen in the works of Dora Reis, Markus hofko, Yuli Anastassakis and Kyle Thompson – this last one standing out amongst all for being a painful attempt of self recognition. Recognition and belonging are also presented in Anthony Marcellini’s tale, packed with philosophical allegory.
The poetic subjectivity which we unpretentiously concede to our “gadgets’-extension-of-the-body” is in the poetic work i Phone me, i phone you by Marcus Faustini and, in counterpoint, Post secret by Frank Warren (and an anonymous group) looks through the pain of intimateness of omitted secrets and shows the collectivity of moral chastity.
The reputed and difficult-to-categorize photographer Michael Wolf questions the panoptic and the fine artist Ana Hupe manifests, in a way, hyperexposition; Bruno Veiga and Alexandre Mazza, the first ironically, the second in a reflexive way, address individuality versus standardization/ representation. This theme is also put to question by artist Stefanie Posavec who provides us potent vocabulary of different forms to give “real” life to our performances and standards of identity in social media. As if in a synthesis of the curatorial goal, through a poetic dramatization, we reveal the subtlety of designer Camila Valladares and her “identity packages”, an authentic and delicate provocation of self-interpretation.
The second edition of Virei Viral does not propose – in any way – to be conclusive. On the contrary. Whether our time leads towards the loneliness of fragmented identities or to the euphoria of the multiplicity of possibilities, whether the road is an excess of egocentrism or, on the contrary, the proliferation of facets and possibilities, the reflection is sent back to the audience: living, seduced, and abducted by this abundantly current reality-simulacrum.
ISABEL SEIXAS | Curatorial Collective M’Baraká Studio