UNTITLED

January 2008
Avenida 211, Lisboa
TEXT BY

Beam

What artists do in the studios where they work is their business. Sometimes, at least, because other times it becomes our business, at the moment when they transform their activity in the studio into what they decide to show us. This has been the case since the 19th century, since Géricault, Courbet, Makart or – from the 20th century onwards – Bruce Nauman, of course, stating definitively that everything the artist does in the studio is art, demonstrating it by filming himself moving around the space of his studio, measuring himself against that space and making his body its unit of measurement.At the turn of this century, António Bolota had a studio in a 19th-century residential building, vacant but luxurious, at number 211 in Avenida da Liberdade, in Lisbon. Because of his activity as an engineer and builder, he was able to occupy the building whilst waiting for the property transaction to be completed, taking care of its upkeep and inviting other artists to take up residence there (including Francisco Tropa, João Queiroz and Pedro Barateiro, among many others), regularly presenting their work and housing a lively and dynamic artistic community (as well as the studios, the building included various independent exhibition spaces such as Kunsthalle Lissabon, Parkour, Barbershop and the Sala Bébé). The Avenida 211 project expanded and from 2008 became a vital point of reference for contemporary music in Lisbon, with evening events organised by the Associação Filho Único combining a diverse range of musical experiences, from improvised music to African music or the world of pop.In the first exhibition held there, António Bolota converted his movement around his studio, the circuit he trod between rooms and the way he occupied the space, into an intervention on the floor above his third-floor studio. The artist materialised his route by placing a grid of three steel and plaster beams beneath the ceiling, which crossed the rooms to reproduce the flows of recurring steps he took across the floor of his studio. In fact, the new structure, simultaneously airy and brutally solid, deviated from the orthogonality of the space, but without imposing its route – quite the opposite, it invited movement but under the banner of a detour, through the walls, like ghosts. And that subject, that wandering, thus became our own