SUFOCO [2021]

CISTERNA GALERIA [Lisbon, Portugal]
Text by João Macdonald
Ana Velez | Joana Gomes | Maria Sassetti | Xana Sousa

The work by these four artists from Atelier Contencioso [in existence since 2015] has emerged from the lockdown and is an engagement with the idea of the unheimlich, a proposal based on Sigmund Freud’s 1919 text [furthermore published towards the end of the pandemic of his day]: what is simultaneously not familiar or familiar, triggering our own sense of uneasiness. The setting for our discomfort is within our own home - the limit [in all senses of the word] of where we have tried to re-exist in recent times.


The repetitive act of taking 45 Polaroids from the same angle has the assumed intent of guiding viewers towards finding something they recognise in them, not intended by the artist [in other words, as opposed to showing a single, dictatorial image from the same perspective]. Which leads us inevitably, to the following paradox: the chosen perspective was obviously at the artist’s behest, what’s more [yet another paradox] conceived to reflect its domestic setting: we have here a view from a window of her home, taken during the first confinement. In a certain sense, it is a means of confining the confinement [as did much of the population by undertaking similar acts]. It is impossible however to control everything [notwithstanding the fact that, as was already said, the ulterior motive is to condition the process of looking].

Each photographic object, even if captured on a rigorous daily basis, is subject to different light [whether night or day]; which a Polaroid will pick up - even if black and white was chosen as the best means of capturing the Moment [as opposed to a more mundane colour image]. Before it, or in spite of it, is a drawing made up of extensive layers of indian ink and graphite. As science has told us, graphite is a mineral that has the potential to become a diamond, and the artist [who usually produces work in series] seeks to find out which is the halfway point for attaining “diamond quality”.

João Macdonald

Photos © Ana Garrido