The Death of Ubu | João Louro
A Morte de Ubo, João Louro
A Morte de Ubo, João Louro
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The death of Ubu
João Louro
23 February to 9 June


The death of Ubu is based on the mythical figure of Ubu, created in 1896 by the writer Alfred Jarry and whose proverbial goodwill led him to be included amongst the pantheon of avant-garde anti-heroes. With this work, João Louro (Lisbon, 1963) conjures up the troubled times of pre-WWI modernism, in which use, by artists and poets, of the mask of nihilism and the absurd was considered to be one of the most effective responses against the insanity of the armed conflict that went on to decimate half of Europe.
In his most recent works, João Louro has focused on the subterranean formal and semantic relations between modernism and primitivism. With this intervention he inaugurates his research into the concept of poison, a substance that is rich in meanings and predicates, in order to focus on the opposition between two antagonistic conceptions of the world: contemporary societies, rooted in blind faith in progress, and so-called primitive or archaic societies, in voluntary isolation from the contemporary world, which base their existence on a relationship of exchange and careful balance with that which the earth offers and with other living beings.
Today’s media often shows us images of indigenous people brandishing their bows and arrows against helicopters or airplanes flying over their territories, invading and threatening their way of life. These images reveal a total disproportion of forces.
In this case, poison - extracted from plants or animals, using profound knowledge of the secrets of the natural world - symbolises the desperate resistance of indigenous peoples to the colonising spirit of capitalist societies, which, in search of a rapidly-moving future, aim to dominate, exploit and ultimately destroy everything.
João Louro essentially addresses two conceptions of time and two radically different ethics of existence, to construct an inverted metaphor - a sort of "spell turned against the sorcerer" - that in practice functions as a prediction: progress, once heralded as the solution to all evils, is the plague that will lead to our extinction.