Phénomène 1/ Phénomène 2, 2018, inkjet on Canson Premium Luster RC paper, (2 x) 140 x 93 cm, ed. 3 + 2 A.P.
In this exhibition, entitled Records, Manuela Marques presents photographic pieces created during the past year on the island of São Miguel. These images explore ways of seeing and experiencing that territory’s unique and peculiar nature, powerfully animated by a conflagration of times and movements – geological and meteorological, but also emotional and aesthetic. The matters, forms, energies, fluxes and forces that move under and over this land influence how the artist immerses herself into a geographic reality that is as much physical and material as it is poetic and cosmic.
Let us start with what comes from the sky, gravity. Phénomènesis a diptych of two pictures of a cloudy night sky. By being displayed vertically (turned around 90 degrees), the photographs lose their landscape quality and become a flow of air, vapour and light. These shots mix light and dark, rise and fall, figuration and abstraction, a kind of ambiguity that in fact recurs in Manuela Marques’ visual creations. Next, we can see three photographs of volcanic bombs, lumps of lava that solidified into frequently aerodynamic shapes while flying through the air. Besides their unique consistency, defined by the fluidity of their constituent magma, these bombsare also suggestive of sculptures randomly shaped out of speed, air and lava.
In turn, the images from the Recordsseries display close looks at parts of paper documents from Ponta Delgada’s Afonso Chaves Observatory, on which are recorded the volcanic eruptions and seismic episodes at Ponta dos Capelinhos, in 1957 and 1958. By playing with variations in focus, with the melancholic tone of the papers, their markings and drawings, the artist creates territories filled with movements, sensibilities and moods. With these pieces, Manuela Marques prolongs and deepens lines of work consistent with a visual practice that favours the combinative possibilities of the images’ descriptive qualities and their poetic and speculative potentialities. It is thus essential that we look at what the pictures are showing us; however, it is just as important, or even more so, to understand how the images look at us and question us, as Lunar reminds us.
Translation by José Gabriel Flores