THIS IS NOT A WHITE CUBE Contemporary Art Gallery presents in Lisbon “The Green Line,” a solo exhibition by the Luso-Angolan artist Pedro Pires, which marks his return to the Portuguese capital after more than a decade of a growing presence in the international art scene. The exhibition is curated by Lourenço Egreja.
The title “THE GREEN LINE” stems from the appropriation of Francis Alys’ homonymous work’s name and the designation given to the Armistice border, defined at the end of the Arab-Israeli armed conflict in 1948. The border’s name – “Green Line” – results from the colour of the pen used in the 1949 negotiations to draw and define on the map the boundaries of the territory. In his 2004 performative work, Alys walks along the “Green Line”, spilling green paint on the ground as he passes to create a line along this route.
In the words of Pedro Pires:
“In the same way that I appropriate certain objects in order to make use of the contexts to which they belong, I am interested, in the context of this exhibition, in the act of appropriating this title and its intersection with the works presented. Thinking about borders and nationalities has been a constant in my artistic practice and also in my personal sphere. In this context, it is relevant to the feeling of belonging that I devote to the two countries in which I am national – Angola and Portugal. In societies of a global world, this duality has become an increasingly present condition. Bodies that move from one territory to another, between nations, continents, cultures, religions, habits and legacies. Metamorphic bodies that propel transformation around them. The idea of the frontier is embodied in very diverse ways, our skin being the primordial frontier with the world. It is a cellular membrane, an organ that both covers the body and separates it from its surroundings. It is simultaneously sensitive and reactive. It is the point of physical contact between the self and the other.
In my sculptures, I try to integrate objects linked to specific contexts: symbolic objects, although often “invisible” due to the functional character they assume in society. This neutrality of the object, which is, in a way, trivial and transversely recognized, is essential for me to create tension in the works I produce. The function attributed to them often carries an important symbolic component. Examples of this are the decorative metallic foliage, as objects of industrial production used to decorate gates, railings, and fences. Their function is none other than to embellish the “division” and to encapsulate the idea of “border”, neutralizing it and promoting its abstraction. Luanda, the city where I was born, is populated by fences that, as time passed, became part of the aesthetics of the city. The works “Border Series”, on display, are inspired by this aesthetic of the Angolan capital – a city full of barriers that reflect the society that inhabits it, in its tremendous economic, political and social disparities.
As a final proposition, I transcribe a phrase by Francis Alys that I like a lot and deeply identify with. It reflects very well the way I understand the acts of producing sculpture and drawing, which are, from a personal point of view, very distinct. Sculpture always involves more reflection, more density of thought, and in a way, a more political content. Drawing, on the other hand, stems from a more poetic and intuitive approach.
“Sometimes doing something poetic can become political, and sometimes doing something political can become poetic”.
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