MAAT Lisbon

Today I visited the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology that opened just last month in Lisbon. It is housed in a new massive impressive shipformed building as well as  in the old brick building beside it, that used to be the main electricity factory of Lisbon. These two buildings have very different atmospheres and now showed a total of six very different exhibitions to celebrate the opening of this new museum.

 

DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER 

The huge new building housed only one of the 6 exhibitions- “PYNCHON PARK” by Dominique Gonzalez- Foerster. On display was one single big fenced in area with rubber Pilates balls, that the spectators can move around and play with.

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“Pynchon Park is the first site specific intervention specially conscieved for the Museum of Art Architecture and Technology’s new building. Focusing on the duality of Utopia/ Dystopia artist Dominique Gonzalez Foerster created a fictional environment that with nearly 1000 square meters, occupies MAAT’s oval gallery in it’s entirety.”

“Pynchon Park is proposed as a setting for an alien species to observe human behaviour in the best possible conditions”

“Pynchon Park ” appears as a new piece in which the artist brings together several media- sculpture, sound, light, performance- with classical literary references and dystopian ideas from the realm of science fiction.”

Text from the wall panels surrounding the installation and repeated in the exhibition catalogue.

So I understand that this is an internationally acclaimed artist that has previously done massive installations in Tate Modern, London and elsewhere. And yes, I can maybe get the hint at the duality of some kind of fun park, but then being fenced in as in a refugee camp. But I must confess that this type of conceptual art is something I still don’t understand. I still want something visually appealing or intriguing or in some ways triggering . After all the media hype from the opening- placing Lisbon on the map of ART and CULTURE and making it an international art DESTINATION- well this just felt like a huge disappointment. Hopefully further studies will make me more sensitive and open to this type of conceptual art…

 

RUI CALCADA BASTOS – WALKING DISTANCE

Rui Calcada Bastos photographs and films abandoned objects and through them records his own trajectory through the world.

“The work of RCB compels us to approach the world as a reality that is close to us, but that remains mysterious and unexpected. The territory of otherness and difference is always strange, it is that very strangeness that attracts and repels following rhythms that are impossible to establish, but are determined by the insatiable desire to circumscribe and conquer it. ” (Hm?)

This was the exhibition that I found most interesting today. There were some very simple beautiful huge format photographs of abandoned or disappeared objects, like here the nail in the wall where a rosary has hung so long that it has left a shadow in the paint, or a simple crack in a white wall, or a concrete border.

These photographs were bigger than me, and left a trace of melancholy and wonder.

I also found really interesting this whole wall made up of a city map, that upon closer inspection was a collage of places from several cities, like Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Riga… There were loudspeakers installed in the map with a continuos sound of walking steps.

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CHARLES AND RAY EAMES

Charles and Ray Eames are among the most famous designers of the 20th Century, and it was beautiful to see an overview of their work here, featuring their input in design of objects, furniture, architecture, graphic design as well as new models for education.

The exhibition was made up mainly of many photographs and short films, and some  furniture and objects. Here are some pieces in bent plywood, a revolutionary idea at the time.

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I was most attracted to a wall with the covers of the magazine Art and Architecture from the years 1942-47. Ray Eames designed a total of 26 covers. I found the collages and juxtaposition of images and scribbles inspiring.

A whole other room was dedicated to the Eames collaboration with the Indian Government to create new models of education and a Design Institute in Ahmedabad, India. A sentence from the Bhagavad Gita , that the Eames resonated with : “you have the right to work, but for the works sake only, you have no rights to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be the motive for working ” Process is everything! A very good reminder for me too – the process is everything 🙂

EDUARDO BATARDA- MISQUOTEROS

Eduardo Batardas exhibition featured 30 paintings with 646 text fragments that represented a selection of T- shirt fronts.

“The artist uses a combination of painting and text that have always coalesced in his work throughout his fifty- year career. The artist uses their combination to hold the viewer’s attention, making it clear that art is time-demanding as it is a permanent challenge to the viewer’s knowledge and information. His complex pantings work as statements against ignorance and stupidity.”

Well after this introduction, it is obviously embarrassing to write that here again was an exhibition I did not get…Neither the visual all, nor the text fragments were in any way really speaking to me.

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I am currently really attracted to text, paintings or drawings with text and the art of scribbling. But this was just not a work that I felt moved by.

THE ELECTRIC WORKS

The last part of the museum features an exhibition about the old electric works that were originally here, with many old machines and interactive devices to teach kids about electricity.

I was already prepared to quicken my pace out of here, as this was not what I would want to spend my precious Saturday on, when I unexpectedly found myself so attracted to the surfaces, shapes and patterns of the old machines , that I ended up staying here the longest and took many many photographs .

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