ZDB

Visual Arts
Exhibitions

ANIMAL FARM

— exhibition by João Maria Gusmão

02.02 — 03.03.24
99 Canal - 99 Canal Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10002, USA

2 February–3 March 2024
Tuesday to Sunday | 4pm–10pm

Or by appointment:
marco.bene@zedosbois.org
WhatsApp: +34 662 54 64 46

Solar farm, 2023, Vertical 16mm film projection, color, no sound, 2’53’’
Day for night, 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 2’28’’
Flat cows make nice yogurt, 2023, 16mm film, anamorphic projection, color, no sound, 8’43’'
Flat cows make nice yogurt, 2023, 16mm film, anamorphic projection, color, no sound, 8’43’'
Ghost tape, 2021, 16mm film, color, no sound, 3’22’’. Produced by Fundação de Serralves
Landscape with boat and river, 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 2’48’’
Mozart’s piss stone, 2023, 16mm film, anamorphic projection, color, no sound, 5’13’’
My uncle’s castle, 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 2’28’’
Rooster at dawn, 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 2’33’'
Sunflower at dusk (v1), 2023, Vertical 16mm film projection, color, no sound, 2’42’’
The wondrous pumpkin farm (Kurbishof Wunderlich), 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 11’56’’
The wondrous pumpkin farm (Kurbishof Wunderlich), 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 11’56’’
The wondrous pumpkin farm (Kurbishof Wunderlich), 2023, 16mm film, color, no sound, 11’56’’

Esteemed Comrades, ZDB (Lisbon) and 99 Canal (NY) proudly present Animal Farm by João Maria Gusmão, his first solo exhibition in New York following nearly two decades of collaborative endeavours with Pedro Paiva. The exhibition will first be shown at the non-profit artist-run space 99 Canal – on view from 2 February to 3 March 2024, Tuesday to Sunday, 4 pm to 10 pm – followed by a second iteration at the end of May at ZDB. Animal Farm is curated by Marco Bene.

Animal Farm entices the observer on a visual odyssey exalted by pastoral solace, animist minstrelsy and metaphysical riddles – ghosts, ghouls and goblins – offering fleeting glimpses of an alterity existing between techne and poiesis, the human and the non-human, the nocturnal and the diurnal. Through over a dozen new 16 mm film projections we are invited to explore the latest toils in a long-lasting inquiry into analogue means and analogue concepts. A journey towards an eco-friendly estrangement from the extractivist rural landscape.

For this venture, the Portuguese artist suggests a distinctive approach to engaging with his craft, moulding the instances of aesthetic contemplation and anchoring them to the circadian cadence of the metropolis. It is solely under the fading rays of the city that never sleeps that the 16 mm projections come alive, revealing the radiant entities that inhabit them. It is, if you will, an exhibition for night owls, creatures of the dark and vespertine folk.

While one might liken Animal Farm to Orwell’s fairy tale, Gusmão concurrently unfurls a structuralist conundrum: the spectral nature of the cinematographic medium, pointing us towards a “weirding” phenomenology; a hauntology of sorts – the study of the nature of what lies between being and non-being among domesticated and wild ranch critters – a vicarious ontology!

Within Animal Farm, Gusmão submerges us into his idiosyncratic world of para-historical, para-scientific and para-philosophical exploits and opinions, intricately interwoven within each celluloid strip.

In the rooms lit by the nocturnal skyline of the financial district, one might notice (or not) the mute crowing of a Rooster at dawn that signals the beginning of yet another day; a Ghost tape that echoes the sounds of its own demise; a squadron of ducks waltzing through a still life titled Landscape with Boat and River; Half a horse; a humble estate devoted to the exploitation of the sun, that is, a Solar farm; Fermented Foam, an enigmatic goo reminiscent of a dairy product, flanked by Flat cows make nice Yogurt, a vivid account of genetically modified bovines with spongiform encephalopathy – feral!; a collection of purgatory Bedrooms; yours truly gazing with nostalgia at My Uncle’s Castle, once my grandfather’s and now my cousin’s cottage, immersed in a mise en abyme of resentful inheritance and birthright; Day for night, a motion picture salute to Magritte’s The Empire of Light; a tarragon Mustard piece imbued with scatological overtones; a Sunflower at dusk swept away by a nuclear storm; The wondrous pumpkin farm; Mozart’s piss stone, the menhir once marked by Amadeus himself with the gasoline of a stone-age spacecraft; science is fiction!

And, so, the term coined by Derrida whilst delivering a lecture entitled “The Animal that Therefore I Am” reverberates once more: zoopoetics!

Forward, comrades! Long live the windmill! Long live Animal Farm!
George Orwell

Special thanks to Andrew Kreps Gallery

This project was generously supported by República Portuguesa – Cultura | DGARTES – Direção-Geral das Artes, FLAD – Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento, Universidade Católica, Escola das Artes, CITAR Centro de Investigacão em Ciência e Tecnologia das Artes, Porto. This exhibition was produced by Galeria Zé dos Bois (ZDB), Lisbon, and 99 Canal, New York.

João Maria Gusmão

Over the last twenty years, João Maria Gusmão (Lisbon, 1979) has developed an enigmatic and complex set of practices and meta-practices ranging from experimental film to pho- tography, encompassing sculpture and drawing, and extending to literature, exhibition curating and publishing. JMG’s research stands at the crossroads between a metaphysical reflection on the aesthetics of photography and early cinema, a conceptual examination of the analogue medium, the revival of certain Modernist experiments within literature and particular currents in contemporary philosophy (transcendental materialism and specu- lative realism). His installations are evocative of a non-diegetic experiment in the moving image organized not as a replacement of the world but as a spectral and mnemonic manifes- tation of its removal. Hinging on a “mental experience” of time/image, his work attempts to stimulate a remote awareness in the observer both in discursive terms, reflecting on the conditions of visibility (the essence of image/theory), and in the phenomenological experience in general (duration/description), questioning our modes of existence and the representation of the world. JMG has expanded his work as an artist collaborating with different artists, curators and publishers on various contemporary art platforms. His long, multidisciplinary and prolific collaboration with Pedro Paiva (from 2001 to 2018) was par- ticularly notable for their highly composite 16mm film footage shown in immersive installa- tions using various projection devices. In the words of Chris Fitzpatrick, JMG+PP are artists dedicated to “charting a line of naturalist inquiry in the abyss—peripatetically assaying its contents through biological and technical comparisons, philosophical demonstrations, psychological illustrations, and para-scientific observations (often with considerable over- lap).” Based on periods of cinematographic production and the use of alternative cinematic techniques, these creations were combined in themed exhibitions which, as a whole, com- prise the conceptual and poetic corpus of their joint work (Eflúvio Magnético [Magnetic Effluvium] 2003-06; Abissologia [Abyssology] 2008-12; Papagaio [Parrot] 2014-16; Avantesma Fantasma, 2016-19).

Gusmão and Paiva’s work has been shown in various monographic exhibitions around the world. Of particular note is Papagaio, which was exhibited in Milan (Hangar Bicocca, 2014), London (Camden Art Centre, 2015), Berlin (KW, 2015) and around Germany: Kunsthalle Dusseldorf in 2011, Kolnischer Kunstverein in 2015 and Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2016. Other highlights include the exhibitions The Sleeping Eskimo, at Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland, in 2016; Um mês sem filmar [A Month Without Filming], at REDCAT, Los Angeles, in 2015; and Alien Theory, at Frac Île-de-France, Le Plateau (Paris), in 2011. In late 2021, JMG and PP held a large retrospective of their joint work, titled Terçolho, at the Museu de Serralves in Porto, Portugal. The artists also took part in several international biennials: 27th São Paulo Biennial in 2006; 6th Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre(Brazil), in 2007; and Manifesta 7 (Italy) in 2008. JMG and PP represented Portugal at the 53rd Venice Biennale and participated in the 55th edition of the event curated by Massimiliano Gioni in 2013.

Their work features in various international museum collections, among which the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MACBA, Centre Georges Pompidou, Tate Modern, SFMOMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco and the Museu de Serralves.
In February 2020, Gusmão joined Celia Bernasconi, curator of the NMNM in Monaco, to create an exhibition on the work of Eugène Frey (1863-1930), one of the last pioneers of the magic lantern. The show was dedicated to an alternative history of the moving image for which the museum commissioned various installations from the artist. Gusmão has estab- lished long standing partnerships with other agents in the contemporary art field, creating content and written material for projects with Natxo Checa and ZdB, and collaborating with artists like: Alexandre Estrela, Mattia Denisse and Gonçalo Pena. An example of this is the project Lua Cão, which he developed with Paiva and Estrela (with Natxo Checa, as curator), and was shown in Lisbon by ZDB in 2017,at Kunstverein Munchen and at La Casa Encendida in Madrid in 2018.

Gusmão has also published and edited several books on his oeuvre through Mousse Publishing and Pato em Pequim (his own publishing house), and curated several exhi- bitions by Gonçalo Pena at Galeria Graça Brandão, ZDB (co-curated with Natxo Checa), Kunstverein Munchen (co-curated with Pedro Paiva), Andrew Kreps in New York, Galleria Zero in Milan (co-curated with Pedro Paiva), and Cristina Guerra in Lisbon. As well as books and exhibitions by Mattia Denise, for example, the exhibition Pau-Podre at Rialto6 in Lisbon in 2022 or the catalog Mattia Denisse: Tout Encyclopaedia in 2023. In 2022, he also co-curated a monographic exhibition on the work of Mauro Restiffe with Natxo Checa at ZDB, Lisbon. Recently Gusmão has also published via Pato em Pequim and Mousse Publishing a monograph titled Massa Confusa.

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