Visual Arts

Um Mês Acordado

— Alexandre Estrela

21.01 — 21.02.22
Galeria Zé dos Bois

Monday to saturday
From 18h to 22h

Visits by appointment 24/24 hours for groups of 5 or more people: 966 237 200

A common element in Alexandre Estrela’s exhibition history is that the titles are not what they seem. Acordado, one of the words in the title, has a twofold meaning, as the Portuguese know. It means both to be awake and something agreed upon, so the title can be understood as a month awake or a one month agreement. But why do these two ideas come together in Portuguese: is awakening itself an agreement with reality? Is sleep a breach of contract with the real?

Um Mês Acordado uncovers the cognitive capacities of the insomniac viewer, interrogates the perception of reality and, in a way, reflects the gaze of someone permanently trapped in a state of wakefulness. The exhibition tells the stories of an insomniac, through simple experimental film techniques, which set perceptual traps that trigger entoptic lights and undesirable tinnitus, in short, an hallucinatory outer-body experience close to the so-called prisoner’s cinema.

The exhibition is anchored in two fundamental ideas: that chronic restless nights can bring clairvoyance and that there is a universal score embedded in most contemporary music. It was proven that those individuals deprived of the comforts of sleep, in their reverie, are some of the select few who crack the cross-cutting secret narratives between the pieces featured in the exhibition. Hence, as in the first iteration of this behaviourist experiment at INDIPENDENZA, Rome, it has been agreed that Zé dos Bois will remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a month, presenting insomniac art pieces to a restless public. Images and sounds that will haunt the viewer to the point where illusions become concrete.

Works exhibited:

Um Mês Acordado, 2018
Video projection on prepared aluminium screen
Video: 4:3 HD MOV, colour, one month, stereo sound
Screen: 4cm casted aluminum screen/sculpture, 37.5 × 48.5 cm

Já não dormia, passava 24 horas acordado e estava assim, tipo há um mês, que não dormia. [I didn’t sleep anymore, I was 24 hours awake, for… like a month, that I didn’t sleep]

Um Mês Acordado is a video installation that was conceived whilst imparting a practical account of how experimental films were made: simultaneously projecting and recording a still image through a rotating plexiglass. During the event a chronic insomniac made some remarks on the similarities between the images created and the hallucinations he experienced when he was unable to sleep for a month. Later, an aluminium screen was moulded and casted, shaped after the video. All in all, the installation simulates what might have been an entoptic experience with phosphenes: inner vivid lights that occur in the eye’s cortex when there is no external input for a long period of time.

Universal Score, 2019
Video projection on prepared screen
Video: 4:3 HD MOV, colour, endless duration, stereo sound
Screen: Plaster, Wood 30 × 40 cm
Sound: programmed by Borja Caro Montes

The starting point of Universal Score is the theory that there might be a fundamental structure behind contemporary music done in the sixties and seventies. This pattern was explored by drawing lines that could be read as a universal music score. The image of a drawing pasted on top of an illustration of a woodpress printing plate found in an old book, is the unit of a flicker video that is projected over a screen shaped as the printing plate itself. The soundtrack is composed of a selection of themes from accomplished contemporary musicians, forced to go under a staccato effect. The tempo of the music vibrato and the flickering of the image is different, yet the brain’s need of synchronicity deceives us into thinking both are in unison.

Van Allen Belt, 2019
Video projection on prepared metal screen
Video: 4:3 HD MOV (PAL), colour, endless loop, silent
Screen: aluminium , 30 × 40 × 1 cm

The Van Allen belt is a barrier with a lethal level of radiation that prevents any living creature from leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. In this video installation, two images of a rising Sun flicker on opposite corners of a metal screen. The light of the projection-beam travels through the metal barrier through randomly located perforations.

Alexandre Estrela

Alexandre Estrela (Lisbon, 1971)

Alexandre Estrela’s work is an investigation about the essence of images that expands spatially and temporally through different supports. In his videos and installations, Estrela examines the subject’s psychological reactions to images and their interaction with matter. The works are not just there to be watched, but rather to be unfolded. Each piece evokes synesthetic experiences, visual and auditory illusions, aural and chromatic sensations that function as perceptive traps, leading the subject toward different conceptual meanings. With this strategy, Estrela questions the elements that constitute the act of perceiving, splitting vision into more sensible dimensions, towards the unseen and the unheard.

Some of his recent solo exhibitions include: A Third Reason, Rialto6, Lisbon (2021-2); Día Eléctrico’ (with João Maria Gusmão), Galería Travesía Cuatro CDMX, Mexico City (2021-2); All and Everything, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City (2020); Lixo de Pinho, curated by Óscar Faria at Sismógrafo, Porto, Portugal (2019); Um Mês Acordado, curated by Gerard Faggionato at Indipendenza, Rome (2019); Volta Grande, curated by Luíza Teixeira de Freitas at Pivô, São Paulo, Brazil (2019); Métal Hurlant, curated by Sérgio Mah at Fondation Gulbenkian, Paris (2019); Lua Cão (with João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva), a project curated by Natxo Checa at La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2018), Kunstverein, Munich, Germany (2018), Galeria Zé Dos Bois, Lisbon (2017); Baklite, curated by Sérgio Mah at CAV Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra, Portugal (2017); Pockets of Silence, Programa Fisuras, curated by João Fernandes at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, (2016); Roda Lume, curated by Nav Haq at M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium (2016); Meio Concreto, curated by João Fernandes at Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2013); Stargate, curated by Pedro Lapa at Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon (2006), among others.

Estrela has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, among them: Matéria Luminal curated by Sérgio Mah at Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisboa (2021-2); Points de Rencontres, curated by Frédéric Paul at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); Anozero – Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art, Portugal. Curated by Luíza Teixeira de Freitas (2017); L’exposition d’un Rêve, curated by Mathieu Copeland at Fondation Gulbenkian, Paris, ACMI, Melbourne, Australia, TATE Modern, London (2017); Hallucinations, a project by Ben Russel at Documenta 14, Athens (2017), among others.

His work is included in the following international collections: Fundación Museo de Arte Reina Sofía (Spain); Colección Inelcom (Spain); Museo Rufino Tamayo (Mexico); Collection Centre Pompidou, (France); Coleção Teixeira de Freitas (Portugal); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Portugal); Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea — Museu do Chiado (Portugal); Fundação Telecom (Portugal); Fundação Serralves (Portugal); António Cachola Collection (Portugal); MAAT — Museum of Art Technology and Architecture (Portugal); Taguchi Art Collection (Japan), among others.

Since 2007, Alexandre Estrela is the director and co-programmer with Ana Baliza of a non-profit art venue in Lisbon called Oporto (now called farO).

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