Odd Objects: an essay on proto-sculpture
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Odd Objects: an essay on proto-sculpture

Curated by f.marquespenteado e Nuno Faria
With Mestre Caçoila and Musa paradisiaca
Works from Coleções de Museu de Alberto Sampaio, Sociedade Martins Sarmento, Museu da Agricultura de Fermentões, Venerável Ordem Terceira de São Francisco, Associação Artística da Marcha Gualteriana, Igreja de São Domingos and private collectors

"The exhibition, “Odd Objects: an essay on proto-sculpture” aims to bring together a wide range of works from the local region’s religious, popular and archaeological heritage, and forge a dialogue with works by contemporary artists. Through the extensive array of objects on display – which range from paintings by Master Caçoila to wax ex-voto offerings, and including notable works from some of the municipality’s most significant museum collections, such as those of S. Torcato, São Francisco or Fermentões - we aim to celebrate the richness, diversity and the idiosyncrasy of a highly complex land, not only through the combined objects but also and above all, via a host of guests who, in the framework of, and within, the exhibition, will help us understand the beliefs, habits and rituals underpinning local life."
In 2012, as part of the Beyond History exhibition, which inaugurated the José de Guimarães International Arts Centre, we created a small unit, that we called “Odd Objects: an essay in proto-sculpture”. It had an ironic and mysteriously literary title and combined a group of objects from various sources, that maintained a problematic relationship with the concept of sculpture: either because they had no clear shape, or because they were composed of small scattered fragments, without a unified body, or because they constituted the reverse image, the mould, of recognisable forms (e.g. human body parts).
Today, exactly four years later, we have returned to this work programme and expanded it. For two main reasons: because this set of works explores the dormant strength of the things around us that lies latent, evolving, ready to hatch or flourish and we wanted to revisit this energy that drives us and surrounds us; and also because we wanted to celebrate the spirit that presided over the implementation of the CIAJG in Guimarães and add some of the living forces (and, in some cases, dormant forces) that circulate therein.
Contemporary art is actually a close relative of archeology. Both are interested in the appearance and disappearance of things. Both are fascinated with the past and with notions of testimony and memory. Certain objects have a life that extends beyond their function. Either because they have a special power derived from their form, or because they have their own energy impregnated in their constituent matter, because they embody a desire or aspiration. We call them transitive objects or objects in transit. They are also slightly or highly mysterious. At the utmost they serve to gain access to, or mingle with, the mysteries of our world. They are often shapeless. They don’t have a recognisable form. They have no body, skeleton or structure - and therefore cannot be classified. They have no name. Sometimes they are the reverse image of a form, the result of a transubstantiation, the transformation of one substance into another. For example, ex-voto offerings, made of wax - the material that establishes connections between states, bodies and things.
In any case, we collect, store, exhibit or offer certain objects with greater amazement than others. They are rare, exceptional, strange things, that constantly remind us of the magic of the world and the miracle of life. They lie between the celebration of life and the exorcism of death.
This exhibition is therefore both an experience and a process. We collect objects and images that have been gathered or created by some of the notable citizens from the region of Guimarães or items that have been preserved in some of the venerable institutions of this distinctively rich and diverse territory. We will display all these objects in the same space and during the course of the exhibition we will listen to speeches, discourses, songs, questions, statements, testimonies, exhortations, prayers, processions - like an air current.
We will celebrate life inside the museum, and celebrate the place where we live!