Of the Pause and the Surrounding

Rute Rosas, September 2014


I begin this text with a few words that frame the participation of Sculpture as a branch of artistic specialization in the mindset and action of the bodies in the concrete space or, if we prefer, in the three-dimensional space. The concept of body in Sculpture brings us to an awareness of our body as well as the bodies and/or environments created by the Sculptors. This means it is possible for us, as an audience/spectator/user to have, in general terms, at least two types of physical relation with the sculptural body or bodies. Figuratively speaking, I refer to the distinction between the dermal relation - the skin, the impenetrable surface - and the visceral relation – the root.

Regardless of the possibilities and definitions of seeing and feeling, of scale, matter, media, techniques or tools, the relation I establish with one or more installed objects in a specific space will be distinct from the one that implies or appeals me to enter into a space that will be simultaneously body – distinction between Object and Installation.

Then, installing will be the condition of every artistic object, of all artworks but the awareness that space becomes the penetrable body and that our relationship with it implies a different body/mind predisposition, where we will not be able to isolate the parts of the whole, is the characteristic of the Installation. In the Installation is often impossible to define the outer shape.

Therefore, these are the presuppositions of the education in Fine Arts – Sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts of University of Porto – FBAUP and there’s, in parallel, a broad catalogue of subject areas with student training levels when using and manipulating the matters, forms, organization and composition, through experience, handling and knowledge of the technological specialties, an understanding of the thinking, feeling and acting structure in Space or with the Space, which implies inevitably the understanding and confrontation of the multiple definitions of Time, Duration, Scale or Dimension, in addition to the study and development of a conceptual framework for the plastic materialization.

Students from the 2nd to the 4th year of the Bachelor in Fine Arts – Sculpture participated in this exciting project with Interecycling – Sociedade de Reciclagem, S.A. without any encumbrance to a subject or curricular area. Oriented and coordinated by me, Rute Rosas, or by my colleague, Norberto Jorge [1], the fieldwork process with the students began on a rainy spring day with a guided tour by the Interecycling’s team to their facilities so the students could establish a direct contact with the materials (of distinct backgrounds), with the environment – the space and its surrounding – the workers, the context and the goals of this industry. The awareness of quantity and qualities in an , in a dimension that seemed overwhelming to us, even if only in a short period of time – which means it was a small fraction of reality – the concept of Scale and its dependency on Time and Space – or of what we considered trash or residue, promoted the more distinct manifestations in a spectacle of emotions. Emotions ranged from enchantment to pain and it seemed impossible to define the multitude of sensations and emotions that a place with these characteristics can cause.

I consider that this first contact was an experience that marked all students in such diverse ways which led to diverse plastic materializations present in the PAUSA (PAUSE) exhibition. 

If many were seduced, even by an ambiguous duality between attraction and repulse, others were disenchanted – the seeming enthusiasm faded for all sorts of reasons resulting in ineffectiveness to respond which consequently led them to understandably withdraw this project proposal.

The feeling of being in a huge shopping centre or a large area provokes ineffectiveness and claustrophobia in many of us. The appetite or the need to consume becomes a sort of greedy sin which may result in congestion or even indigestion.

In the works of the students who participated in this valuable project, presented in PAUSA exhibition, we found countless relations with everyday realities and structures in a society characterized by excess but consequently more aware of its environment – it’s no coincidence that the words reuse and recycle are driving the development of industries and big or small commercial niches.

In Fine Arts, this issue isn't new, but in arts education, it's a necessary approach, particularly when promoting the access to media and materials that are not costly and that are simultaneously appealing for imagination and creativity. "All the trash on Earth can be reused. It only takes the will to give it a new identity" [2].

On the entrance of AXA Building we come across a contradiction between the silent poster announcing PAUSA and the visually noisy Reforma object. Yet when we arrive on the 2nd floor, we are invited for an effective pause. In the silence of Elena Vidal Deive’s Velo, whose "heavy hands weave the veil; involving drawings of cathartic repetition (…) breathing containment, shelter or evasion" here is a synonym of within, "it's feet, it's uncertainty" [4]. In this moment we decide what path to take to see all the other rooms while living with the questions raised or with the possible answers of the students “when confronted with the idea of abandonment” of the “liberal capitalism” [5] or the trash and exclusion both characteristics of our society in economic and value crisis.

As it is common on these collective events, the range of discursive possibilities is revealed in the PAUSEs we make. Whether by encountering something that “seems to amplify the unusual” [6] in João Sarmento’s Um pedaço de casa, in the visual experience that appeals to our tactile action to transform it in an audible experience where we become an "indispensable part" in Marta Hipólito’s works or the visceral journey to José Andrade’s Wunderkammer[7]– a multisensory environment that attracts us as it simultaneously embarrasses us by its excess. There are countless "reconstitutions" that enhance the "destructive action" through "freezing of rupture processes", "ghost transitions" [8] of a past state to a present state in time and space.


Appeals or screams?



[1] We defined criteria and methodologies together, we dialogued about the previous experiences, sharing functions and framing them the closer with our motivations, specialities or individual poetics.

[2] If our students are oriented for the execution of critic reflections, reports, technical files and summaries at the end of each exercise, it will make sense that, in this text, the reader be forwarded to some examples and/or words that they wrote. Quote retrieved from the Interecycling Sinopsys for the PAUSA exhibition by Ana Sousa Santos – 2nd curricular year – Bachelor in Fine Artes – Sculpture, school year of 2013/14. To abbreviate I will use the following model: name of the student, SInPAUSA, curricular year LAP-E13/14.

[3] A conic structure built through the stacking of domestic television carcasses that only emit light with different intensities by Luís Santos, 2º year LAP-E13/14.

[4] Elena Vidal Deive, SInPAUSA, 3LAP-E13/14. Understand or locate the utilized matter is not an easy task. They are metallic grids or television masks.

[5] Paulo Graça, SInPAUSA, 4LAP-E13/14.

[6] João Sarmento, SInPAUSA, 2LAP-E13/14. Curiously, the sculptural object of this student was built with domestic fridges’ stainless plates.

[7]Câmaras das maravilhas or curiosity offices. In this context, we can suggest the reading of Umberto Eco’s The Vertigo of Lists – a journey in time in the obsessive and systematic relationship of the human being with collecting, cataloguing and inventorying. A valuable document and essay about the concept of list or listing.

[8] José Andrade, SInPAUSA, 3LAP-E13/14.