André Romão, Europa I, 2013, Digital print, 150 x 100 cm
An empty room, wide, white, lacking edges, boundaries. This room uses us as fauna.
Between us there is a space, we stand here as points in an axiomatic system, outlining a geometric shape, defining a perimeter where everything that lays within falls outside any known social structure. law, as one may simply call it, official law perhaps. Standing here we risk an absurd positioning, impossible even.
Our bodies circulate freely as they are no longer asked to perform as part of a structure, we left behind a large stage, intricate routines, our bodies are now able to fulfill different urges, urges of the flesh. We're not acting upon feelings of refusal or self-imposed isolation, there is nothing romantic about our decision, we were not given a choice.
Desire gains structure shaping the will to constitute a state, a satellite regime, generating new kinds of
law (or can one live outside law?), new forms of solidarity. We're no longer sacrificing our bones for a cause that is not our own.
We are bodies seeking boundaries, imperceptible limits that we refuse to render nonexistent. We are aware of how fast we can run, how long can we stand. How impolite it is to let your fingers linger on a strangers' shoulder. There is a speed limit to our fall.
And we shout, forcing our will into visible shapes, requiring them to leave the comfortable shadows in the back of our heads, we are not giving back, we return nothing, we want more, we demand more.
Here, we are all dying of thirst.
At some point these tired numbed bodies will start to react, not yet galvanised by the social void around us, hunger instead starts to corrupt my thoughts, affecting my ability to make sense, compromising the text you are reading. The desire to be touched starts cramping my movements, we are back to being leopards. From this line inwards we are lions. Nonsense! We were made humans and we should act accordingly, we cannot be cast away anymore, let us say that this is the beginning of our permanent vacation.
An impelling need arises, the need to create models, ways of address, structures to regulate the exchanges amongst us. We, economy-bound-agents, force movements into technological gestures.
We do and do not speak the same language. We are, and are not all equal.
Who or what defines this corner-less, perfectly lit space.
We cannot escape structure not even between so few of us, the blood bath is imaginary but the fear of it is real. How willing is my body to accept this newly-created law? Citizens became barbarians, barbarians became citizens, citizens became barbarians, barbarians became citizens. When do we start rebuilding.
We sit here pretending everything outside this geometric shape has dissolved and everyone has danced on ruins until their bodies collapsed.
Stones talk, chairs talk, everything reveals the presence of our cultural history, but now they have become screens, eroticised inorganic objects. The void around us, crushing us, forcing our bodies to buckle is nothing but a receptacle for desire, a stranger that we desperately seek eye contact with, a returned gaze, unfulfilled promises, any level of contract. Us. Space. Reflecting. Curving inwards.
Systems of qualification, classification, classes, orders.
A microstructure, bigger than a single organism, smaller than a state, a state nonetheless. Can we lay here the stones for a perfect regime? A perfect triangle, violently scaled down from what we previously knew. We can shut down, demand no exteriority. Our bodies will only perform the tasks decided amongst us.
Siting here, upon a slab, dirty feet, defeated bodies, touching a common ground. In this theatre set, we rehearse a primitive democracy. As leopards we too are murder-bound-beasts.
Informality has now left this stage, every movement implies an intent, every gesture a political content.
We talk too much.
The body reacts, stiffens up, muscles contract, desire fades, palms become sweaty, eyes stop blinking, teeth grind, every sense alert and acute. A neck swollen as if it was being stepped on, pushed down, body pression. A sudden fear consumes joy. And bone, teeth, muscle.
What does the body want? How can we go on refusing to produce value?
We know now that eventually we will need to start performing, producing commodities, commodities will be desired. Even if feeding on human flesh, we will fulfill needs, and needs will expand, grow, and depend on a continuous growth to sustain its structures, until we cannot see its limits. There will be no going back, scaling down. We build ever-expanding-structures, systems outgrow us and we take it as an accomplishment. Proud and vertical. Driven and satisfied. Glorious.
As we buckle under our own height, our golden masks hide decomposing bodies.
ANDRÉ ROMÃO (Lisbon, PT, 1984).
Having studied at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon, PT, and the Academy of Brera in Milan, IT, ANDRÉ ROMÃO was as artist in residency in Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlim, 2009-10 and in AirAntwerpen in Antwerp BE, 2012.
He has shown work at Photo Cairo 5, Cairo EG 2012; Notes on the history of violence, Middleheim Museum, Antwerp BE 2012; Barbarian Poems, Galeria Umberto di Marino, Naples IT 2011; BYT Show, Stedelijk Museum, 'S-Hertogenbosch NL, 2011; Às Artes Cidadãos!, Fundação de Serralves, Oporto PT, 2010; Res Publica, Fundação Gulbenkian, Lisbon PT 2010; The Vertical Stage, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin DE 2010; The Horizon line is Here, Galleria Umberto di Marino, Naples IT, 2010; The Winter of (our) Discontent, Kunsthalle Lissabon; Lisbon PT 2010; On the Razor's edge, Galeria Heinrich Ehrhardt, Madrid ES, 2009; O Sol morre cedo, Pavilhão Branco - Museu da Cidade, Lisbon PT, 2009; Democracia entre Tiranos, Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon PT 2009 and A river ain't too much to love, Spike Island, Bristol UK, 2008, among others.
Has won the EDP Novos Artistas (2007) and the BES Revelação (2013) awards.
ANDRÉ ROMÃO is a co-editor of the publisher ATLAS PROJECTOS since 2007 and is represented by BAGINSKI, GALERIA/ PROJECTOS in Lisboa PT, and Galleria Umberto di Marino in Naples IT.
Golden masks hiding decomposing bodies is his second solo exhibition at BAGINSKI, GALERIA/ PROJECTOS, after Pavilion of Progress / Pavilion of Fall (2010).