MÃO-DE-OBRA

September 2021
Culturgest, Lisboa
TEXT BY

While the project of art writing is already an impossible task in and of itself – having to translate into language what is intended to exist solely in the visual and spatial realm, constantly running up against language’s inherent limitations to accurately convey what is oftentimes fundamentally unnamable, writing about António Bolota comes with its own additional unique challenges. For one thing, there is a resistance to nominalism in the artist’s project; that is, he prefers not to give his work titles. This resistance to naming, while freeing the work from the burden of meaning, also poses a barrier to the project of signification, of signifying. The writer’s lazy reliance on the name of a work of art – not only as harbinger of meaning, but as common referent – forces them to engage with its thingness instead. Indeed, Bolota’s ultimate destination – no matter the site his individual works occupy – might be said to be a state of namelessness that endows these sculptural interventions with a gravity that transcends language, positing a sort of alternate language that is all Bolota’s own. Rather than serving as a traditional retrospective – nearly impossible, given the conditions of site specificity under which Bolota typically executes his sculptures – the exhibition at Culturgest serves as a re-working, a re-presentation of earlier works; in this sense, the works are rendered anew, divorced from their original context – which usually, though not always, inflects their meaning – and oftentimes approaching what we might come to conceive as the Modernist ideal of sculpture embedded in the white cube, while playfully negating that ideality through its blunt interactions with the space’s architecture. In this sense, it is useful to have some idea about the origins of these six works and the way in which they’ve been re-configured to haunt the current space.