In its first years of programming, Solar turned out to be linked to the introduction of a group of authors up until then unknown in Portugal. Their itinerary confirmed a will to experiment a method of artistic creation that anticipated its presentation shape, being it either in the gallery or in the cinema room. Such were the cases of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Nicolas Provost, Gustav Deutsch, Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet.
Without forgetting the interest in presenting this body of authors, the latest exhibition proposals at the gallery have been addressing a group of Portuguese artists whose work not only coincides with the gallery’s logic, but also allows for new readings on experimentation in situ, with the materials and displaying options of the space. The gallery thus emerges as a construction device; a place that underlines the proposal of a markedly physical, mechanical programme leading us to a shipyard concept. It is a matter of introducing a certain introspective tendency towards what material the devices are made of, towards what elements put in to the simulacrum of place construction. This element draws projects closer to what relates to the cinema’s backstage (such as scenarios construction, creation of sound or sensorial effects later to be found in films).
Miguel Palma is undoubtedly one of the Portuguese artists most qualified to conceive a proposal starting with this premise. Palma is able to reflect on the display devices, on the staging and places, giving them a new dimension capable of both leading us into an idea of fantasy and, simultaneously, questioning the social and political contemporary realities. From a very early stage, the artist has devoted himself to building machines and other devices, assuming the role of a sort of an artist-engineer. In this almost obsessive activity of manipulating materials and technology and, therefore, reinventing the world’s objects and images, we recognize a playful dimension, a tendency to fantasy which transports us to a childhood universe.
Palma’s way of thinking spaces and its constructions also project us into an imaginative and inventive cosmos that makes us elaborate on the universe of George Méliès, the filmmaker and inventor from the beginning of cinema. In spite of a playful appearance, Miguel Palma’s works often convey a critical and ironic vision of today’s world, of the failure of its utopias linked to the idea of Progress, which characterized the XXth century, reminding us of Jacques Tati and the remarkable Playtime. For the reasons above mentioned, making this project, capable of moving Solar into a new stage in its existence, became an urgency.
The gallery’s history has also been characterized by the incentive and support of artistic production and by a constant work of promoting original works, accomplished through the cooperation with artists and other institutions. To this extent, we have created Cave project: a production incentive for young Portuguese artists to create new works. In the latest exhibitions, we have been asking invited artists to associate themselves with another author producing work within the area of this project, so that both works dialogue. Miguel Palma proposed Pedro dos Reis, an artist whose photographic work deals with spatial and temporal contexts.
The result of the artists’ work and that of Sandra Vieira Jürgens’s, the invited curator, made room in the last few months for a project of dialogues. These in turn gave way to a group of new pieces by Miguel Palma and Pedro dos Reis, which form the present show. (1)
Co-director of Curtas Vila do Conde – International Film Festival and coordinator of Solar Cinematic Art Gallery
(1)Excerpt from Miguel Palma: Densidade catalogue "Preface" , published by Solar for those exhibitions.