by Adam Budak
Solo exhibition, Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Évora, 2017 / Curated by Adam Budak
“He is turning toward the shelves where — one notices now — books are arranged in great number, in an order perhaps more apparent than rigorous, but which explains no doubt why even someone familiar with the room would not discover them at the first sight. He does not touch a single volume, he stays there, his back turned and utters in a low but distinct voice: ‘How will we manage to disappear?’”
Practicing an alchemy of matter and meaning, Fernanda Fragateiro builds up a space of emancipation which confronts a poetry of form with an assumed innocence of a concealed knowledge. Structured by a rhythm of togetherness and separation, the exhibition “the reserve of things in their latent state” (after Maurice Blanchot) gracefully unfolds as a never-ending sentence of Blanchotian récit until it disappears in fairly long and abnormally narrow corridors of its veiled meaning. A sentence is a (written) line is a horizon is a limitexperience (an agent of disappearance as well as deception; but also a guarantee of fulfilment and affirmation, on the threshold of the visible and invisible). Act of silencing prevails. A denial, in fact, is an ultimate gesture of deconstructing a modernist pattern of thought, caught in-between an homage to a legacy and a desire to liberate the mind from received ideas and accepted knowledge.
Perceived as such, the exhibition is a performance of disavowal where language appears and reappears under a disguise of repetitive structures, rephrased and altered, erased and written anew. Latency is its device and a mode of participatory operation; as a (time) interval and spatial lapse, it marks the anticipation of disappearance and indicates possibility of a void, an unexpected vacancy the artist pays particular attention to, as if following Luce Irigaray for whom “voiding creates form: a clearing organizes the forest around an opening”. The exhibition is a palimpsest (a somehow awkward figure of memory and writing), which contains traces of past texts and actions, echoes of hi/stories, silenced or exposed, orchestrated as a polyphonic composition, awaiting to be performed, or intentionally forgotten, if not refused, abandoned. Forgetting, for Maurice Blanchot, is a grey zone of non-presence and non-absence; a mediation, a happy power, the very vigilance of memory. Like poets cherished by the philosopher (“but with so much forgetting how can we make a rose”), Fragateiro masters remembering through forgetting, an effacement which is a site of metamorphosis and rebirth. In such a realm of oblivion, (meta)narratives collide, linguistic particles disseminate out of control, semantic architectures collapse while (paradoxically) the exhibition’s dramaturgy reaches a climax of unexpected clarity and
Fernanda Fragateiro’s ecriture is an art of suspended utterance, in an organic state of morphing and translation; here, the latency maps a field of potentiality: it is a promise of rejuvenation and becoming. Hers is a luminous landscape of self-reflexive
corporeality: a mental, discursive space turned sensual and haptic where materiality as well as meticulous labour are at stake in an almost fetishistic manner. A stone cut thin as sheet of paper, becoming a horizon, white marble cubes turned a monument to a rebel, a drawing appearing on a cut-through surface of an archive material, or a concrete poem carved in stone (again, like under ancient skies) … Such are Fernanda Fragateiro’s sublime and sacred moments of becoming, her intimate, monochrome vocabulary of an ur-form and an evidence of a method, applied by the artist along the archeological investigation and scientific sensitivity. Ultimately, the title of “the reserve of things in their latent state” is a definition of an exhibition as a (dormant) library, a heterotopic habitat of the (im)possibility of disappearance where the book — in Blanchotian terms — is the totality: the presence of a content, the presence of a form as well as the development of a system of relations. Moreover, “the book enfolds time, unfolds time, and holds this unfolding in itself as the continuity of a presence in which present, past, and future become actual”. Here, Fernanda Fragateiro is an archeologist and a librarian, critically reassembling the repository of knowledge which is a book as well as defamiliarizing it by an attention paid to its objecthood and a sculptural potency.