Performance, sound and technology play a pivotal role in the work of Caetano Carvalho, exhibiting for the first time in Lebanon. Four people are dressed in white suits in order to hide their gender and physical features. They are given a simple set of rules: starting from the city centre, they have to walk towards the south for eight hours. The four performers have a black box on their head, which makes them blind and unable to see their surroundings. They are all tied to each other with a rope (allowing a distance of 1 meter from each other). The last performer in the line has a black box with a small hole on it, which gives him the ability to see and thus direct the rest of the group. The positions of the performers shifts throughout the action, so that all four have the chance to experience the role of the one who sees and leads the group.
Workshop Gallery is a new 14.3m2 contemporary art exhibition space located in the suburbs of Beirut, a platform for emerging Lebanese and international artists.
The Island and the Ants’ Path
Once you erase the invisible track of pheromones, the line of ants gets blinded and loses its path. Here, an inverted army of four ant-people re-maps an invisible city. As the four soldiers walk blinded, the last one is the one in command. The leading one, being able to see through a small hole in his helmet, tries to direct movements by shouting instructions on how to move around the city.
Tied to each other with a rope and blinded by their helmets, the four performers wander with a simple set of instructions: the journey has a time span of eight hours, they must walk south, and all four should be on the four different positions. These characters struggle to find their direction.
The installation comprises four record players, each playing the recording of the instructions that the performer who was able to see was giving to the rest of the group to direct it. The record players are circuit bended in order to start playing the next record as soon as the previous one was finished, in an endless loop. The instructions become lost sounds which barely connect to the original action and only serve to direct us, blinded, in an imaginary walk.
A slide show and video documentation are played on a small monitor connected to a VHS player, showing glimpses of the action without chronological order. When the tape reaches the end, the VHS player rewinds it and starts playing it again.
A paper construction surrounds the installation, creating the appropriate space for the work within the exhibition space.
Caetano Carvalho is interested in observing and bending social systems/spaces by using a diverse range of media and technological tools that are part of our everyday life. Performance, sound and technology play a pivotal role in his work. The relationship between the latter is always being challenged and re- worked through the experimentation of presentation formats.
Throughout his artistic practice he has often aimed to break out of standard presentation methods, by situating his work in time rather than space and simultaneously engaging with the local/spatial context in which it takes place to create meaning. The importance of making objects (as memento-mori of complex processes and performances) is very often overrated in the contemporary art system. His aim is to create platforms that deliberately confuse hierarchies and the relationships between theory and practice, gesture/form and critical thought, the role of the artist and that of the viewer. He has always been interested in work that does not necessarily fit within the confines of the typical “white cube” gallery setting.
Caetano’s work has been recently shown at: Impakt (Utrecht, NL); MEXICO (Leeds, UK) and W139 (Amsterdam, NL). He performed at the Mobile Radio of the 30th Sao Paulo Biennial (Brazil), at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, 2012), Steim (Amsterdam, 2012 and 2011), DNK (Amsterdam, 2009, 2008) and Paradiso (Night of Unexpected, Amsterdam, 2010). He collaborated with The Pirate Bay at the Internet Pavilion in Venice Biennial in 2009, and designed a visualization system for BitTorrent files at VisualizarMedialab Prado (Madrid) in 2009.