Uncertain Strata, 2021—2022

Inkjet Print on Baryta 325gsm on Dibond A0 1189 x 841 mm; Royal Limestone.
Dimensions Variable

3 + 1 AP

Installation view during Uncertain Strata at EGEU. Photos: João Bragança Gil

O arquivo é o verbo, o lugar que une a história discreta e a história visível, a tentativa de mostrar no mesmo olhar o espaço de dentro e o espaço
de fora. No caso, a rocha suspensa, ainda solo invisível sob os pés, e a rocha trabalhada, transformada, obliterada, com que as cidades pontuam a paisagem. O mesmo para o toque, para o olhar. Ainda pronunciamos os mesmos castelos de vapor.

— Guilherme Vilhena Martins, 2022 (Excerpt)

Uncertain Strata (2022) is a collection of images and artefacts, an expansion of the themes proposed by ANTICLINE (2020).

The works propose a ‘rearrangement’ of the notions of the archive, by escaping from a traditional disciplinary classification, which intends to suggest a holistic and ambiguous understanding of the exploration of stone. Thus, this project aims at highlighting and drawing connections between some of the technological, cultural and socio-political production in order to deconstruct the complex web of agencies transforming this landscape over time.

One might say it’s about stone; others might say it’s about time.

Others might even try to speak of scientific terminology, metamorphic rocks and classes of recrystallized carbonate minerals — though, I see it as geological matter.

It is called Uncertain Strata, the title of the installation, it might as well have been called Sysiphus, a classical myth, described by Camus as the absurd hero; compared to humanity’s fruitlessly, repeating tasks without finding any meaning.

In turn, Groys speaks of Sysiphus as a “proto-contemporary-artist” whose aimless, senseless task of repeatedly rolling a boulder up a hill can be seen as a prototype for contemporary time-based art.”

However, one should not forget the rock is explored, carved, and transported because it — represents — power. Anita Beckers wittingly said about Farocki’s Transmission (2007) : “Stone is the material in which the collective memory of a life or an event in the past is immortalized and becomes an object of worship.”

The myth of power, embedded into stone, has been a continuous thread within European culture; The materiality of historical time, shaped by difference and repetition.

Continuously, this myth-sign was spread, but also stolen, during colonial empires. Today, this is perhaps mostly broadcasted in Hollywood movies, Tourism, or through the form of Nevada’s simulacrums.

In parallel, technologies and means of production, also changed. From heavier, and more complex machines, to foreign low-waged workers, as highlighted by Paci’s Column.

Sign and technē, permanently associated, spiralling away from matter.

And so this project has appropriated of all these tehnēs; manufacturing processes, skilful workers, standardised measurements, and pick-up trucks; but also techno-scientific and academic aesthetics, graphics, technical drawings, presentations, or even photos from stock-image websites; so that the tension between this construction and de-construction, might reveal some kind of poiesis, at the positive/negative site in which one hovers uncomfortably, somewhere between matter and symbol; between digital and physical ruins; somewhere between the course of the empire.

João Bragança Gil

Special Thanks: Maria Alves Sousa; Beatriz Medori; Diogo Bolota; Henrique Pavão; Objeta; Francisco Raposo; Bruno Herculano João; Patrícia Lima; Cláudio Melo.