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One Woman Show

Between what is the face of an art gallery – showing individual exhibitions of artists or collective shows, normally presenting a coherent project – and what is the backstage lays the motor of the galleries and the art market.

At the “heap” works of the various artists which work with the gallery are accumulated, works of different years, mediums, concepts, routes that have been developed, works that will never be shown to a broader audience, that have never been exhibited.

After two years of existence of the Plumba Gallery and of my collaboration with it I have 11 works storage in the “heap”, coming from past exhibitions in the gallery and other spaces. Which exhibition would that be of an artist only with her works in storage?

Picture it: ONE WOMAN SHOW

On the left side wall a big Moroccan carpet, in blue tonalities, hardly one can: “EUROPEAN DREAM”, for the letters are cut of from another carpet, very similar to this one, and sewed into this. On each side a small loud speaker through which a sound piece designed Marta Von Óióai for this carpet could be heard.

In front to the left a TV set connected to a DVD player would screen the various works in video format. Such as “Ropes” a video-document on an action in the streets of Porto where the passersby are invited to jump on a swinging rope, “There is no memory of peace on earth” four children sing a rigmarole that mixes itself with the reality of war, “Storm” and “Welcome” both produced and exhibited only in Finland, the first about unemployment in Europe the second a video document of an action about illegal migration. At the centre three photographs document a performance at the Laboratório das Artes, Guimarães “Maintenance Art – homage to Mierle Laderman Ukeles”, where I clean a circle in the wooden floor until all the layers of dirt, varnish and wax, laying bare the wood. To the right a series of engravings – water marks of coins, representing relations between countries

At the ceiling and in the four corners, drawings representing an actualized iconography of Europe, Africa, America and Asia. On the floor a big mosaic made with Coca-Cola and mineral water caps forming a happy skull “Consumed”.

On the right side of the gallery a series of photographs showing a construction of gender. From a almost naked body to a ‘little boy’. At the centre of this wall a hanger with a T-shirt where it can be read, I AM AN ARTIST WHAT! CAN I DO FOR YOU? – accompanied with a picture taken at the time of the performance at Madrid’s art fair, ARCO, 2006. Follows a light box, on the wall, with a continuous intermittent light, that persists on lighting the word EUROPA.

But none of this can be seen at this ONE WOMAN SHOW. From the storage room, only one work of mine is shown, and was made specifically for the storage of this exhibition, a drawing depicting the happy moment when I give the gallerist what we would like to receive from me, a drawing.

the storage rooms I visited, mount up works of art, wrapped or not, rooms that become corridors, staircases packed with works, testimonies or not of past exhibitions and mainly painting.

Of the several galleries contacted at Porto, the majority replied promptly to the challenge. Art Hobler, Serpente, Presença, Graça Brandão, Fernando Santos, Sala Maior, Trindade, Minimal, João Lagoa, Símbolo, MCO, Alvarez, 111, Pedro Oliveira, other didn’t felt in condition to accept, such as Por Amor à Arte and Quadrado Azul: the first because their storage room is in a provisional place, not corresponding to the image that gallery would like to give, the second because the storage room is emptier than usual, not corresponding to what is the actual state of the backroom of this gallery, since they are moving to a new space and also they felt the artists should be questioned about whether or not they would like to see their work shown in a photography in another artist exhibition.

São Mamede Gallery and Nazoni, I couldn’t get the permission on time for this show. I also missed Interatrium and LAB 65, and maybe others I am not aware of, but this is due to the lack of coordination from my side to schedule meetings with the responsible of the galleries in question.

The majority of the backrooms is not of easy access to the common visitor, which can only enter the back stages at request, or in case he shows to be a potential buyer, then for sure will be most welcome, for it is in this space were most of the transactions of the galleries are made. Some backrooms are arranged as wunderkammer, the walls, bookcases and cupboards, filled from top till bottom with colorful shapes; here the buyers will find something that can fulfill their desire.

Plumba’s Backroom is revealed entirely to the audience, as a Parisian art Salon that attracted multitudes to see what was before only presented in private atmospheres and to the elites, now as then the accessibility is manifested.

March 2007