Press Release of the Exhibition
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents GHOST (2009-2012), a film by João Onofre. The film documents the silent journey of a floating island, inhabited by a lonely palm tree (Howea Forsteriana) which towers eleven meters over the islet’s surface. Built with no other purpose but Onofre’s film, the small island traverses the city of Lisbon along the Tagus River, from east to west, until is lost over the horizon.
Filming where the borders of fiction and documentary overlap and by confronting the boundaries of both genres, Onofre activates a paradoxical impression that is intensified by the strangeness of the event. A constructed reality, the island embodies the dream of a land where our collective imagery places a different, idyllic existence. Being so far from its natural context, unbecoming to our reality, the Howea Forsteriana is not easily found in the Northern Hemisphere, the island takes on a ghostly character.
Passing through, the nomadic Island offers a mirage to all who witness the happening, further stressing the dichotomy between real and unreal. In this context it is useful to call upon the history of cinema that, from Georges Méliès to David Lynch, has had its grounds on the illusory and unexpected, bringing us to the fragile boundary between real and supernatural.
This exhibition includes a set of 36 photographic images, inkjet prints on Luster paper, documenting the journey of the islet through Lisbon, on the day the film was shot. The images reveal the changing light conditions over the Tagus River, recording the event and reaffirming its ghostly character.
Ana Mary Bilbao / Carla de Utra Mendes
JOÃO ONOFRE was born in 1976 in the city of Lisbon, where he still lives and works. He studied at Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa and concluded his MFA at Goldsmiths College, London. Onofre has shown his work in numerous individual and group exhibitions in galleries and museums, national and international, such as: Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago); Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo, New York); Centre Georges Pompidou – MNAM/CCI (Paris); The Weltkunst Foundation (Zurich); La Caixa (Barcelona); MACS – Museu de Serralves (Porto); CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon); MNAC – Museu do Chiado (Lisbon); GAM – Galeria D’Arte Moderna e Contenporanea (Torino).
Upcoming solo shows: Thalia Theatre (Lisbon), October 2012; National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu do Chiado (Lisbon), Temps d’Images, November 2012.
Upcoming group shows: Moral Holiday, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (Sunderland), October 2012; Watch that Sound, Netwerk/Centrum voor hedendaagse kunst (Aalst), December 2012; This is not an art show, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona, September 2012; Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver). This exhibition will be followed by a publication of the University of Chicago Press and will travel, in June 2013, to the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto).
Press Release of the Exhibition
Nov 23rd > Jan 5th 2007
This his autumn Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents a new exhibition of João Onofre’s work. The show will open to the public on Thursday, November 22nd and will be on view through January 5th. Two live performances with the Death Metal band Sacred Sin will open and close the show.
In this exhibition João Onofre will be bringing together a series of new drawings on paper, the video ‘Untitled Version (I See a Darkness)’ as well as a massive steel sculpture, especially conceived for the gallery, titled ‘Box sized DIE featuring Sacred Sin’, all from 2007.
Working in array of mediums, this show reflects the artist’s involvement with things that are resistant, his interest in the effects of physical situations on people, such as the uncomfortable and oppressive feeling of being confined, and his pursuit of irreversible, closed systems where the process of entropy and degradation is accelerated, and where the tension of breakdown, decomposition and disintegration is eminently foregrounded.
In his tautological, minimal drawings Untitled (red running dry), Untitled (purple running dry), Untitle (gold running dry) etc. Onofre painstakingly fills in the letters of each sentence with markers that eventually dry out. As previously stated, with this series, initiated in 2005, we witness the artist’s extensive study of signs of disintegration, but also his use of forms, a use that is intended as a means of breaking up, rather than affirming unity. The show also features drawings that depart from Alighiero Boetti’s use of language as both sign, signifier and material form. Drawn with Swarovski crystal, an unlikely material to historical art povera and conceptual art practices, Onofre’s blingy sentence, rather than promise, atonement and change reads the promise of catastrophe.
‘Box sized DIE featuring Sacred Sin’, one of or the exhibition’s centrepiece, stands as an appropriation of American sculptor, Tony Smith’s 1962 abstract piece ‘Die’. Onofre takes the form of one of Smith’s most fundamental structures, his six-foot metal cube, its potentially polysemic title and the historic accusations of ‘hidden threatricality’ to literalize them. He does this by placing the four-part, Portuguese Death/Black metal band playing inside a sound-proof reproduction of Smith’s modular cell. Unable to calculate the exact duration of the performance, which is determined by how long the band members withstand being trapped with a limited air supply, ‘Box sized DIE featuring Sacred Sin’, with the muffled sound that comes from its interior, raises the hidden the unheimlich resonances of Smith’s iconical minimalist cube. As such, Onofre animates an apparently inanimate, hard-edged object, making the sculpture a palpable experience – one of entrapment and death, claustrophobia and asphyxiation.
Similarly, the video ‘Untitled Version (I See a Darkness)’ also presents a state of flux that is registered in the progressive shift from darkness to blinding brightness. Here the artist has two schoolchildren performing Will Oldham’s tune, popularised by Johnny Cash, in a recording studio. In the video, “darkness” tautologically appears as per the song’s title. Delivered with passion and focus, Onofre, in tandem with the tautological certainty that consistently defines his work, reinvests the cover version as a consistent means of appropriation. ND
Since graduating from Goldsmith’s College in 1999 João Onofre has emerged as a one of the most compelling artists of his generation. His trajectory includes several one-man shows that include P.S.1, New York (2002); Kunsthalle Wien Project Space, Vienna (2003); the Chiado Museum, Lisbon (2003); Centro Galego de Arte Contempoanea, Santiago de Compostela; (2003) Magazine 4, Bregenz (2004) as well as many European and American group exhibitions.
Press Release of the Exhibition
For immediate release
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents MAKING OF, an exhibition by João Onofre on May 28 of 2004. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Portugal since Nothing will go wrong, a comprehensive overview of the artist’s work, organised by the Museu do Chiado in March of 2003.
The exhibition is comprised of three works: two videos and work on paper. These works succeed the subject matter developed by the artist, namely issues relating to performance, the place of creation – the studio, the re-contextualization of cultural products, amongst others.
Making of, 2004 – video, colour, sound, 8’48’’.
This work, which also lends its title to the exhibition, consists of a continuous shot filmed in real time of the journey from the artist’s studio to Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art gallery. The route taken by a messenger, invested by the artist to deliver a camera to the gallery, is observed from a subjective, unedited angle in this piece. Once the camera arrives, it is handed over to one of the gallery’s assistants who films a firework session
Skull, 2003 – toner on paper, 30 x 23 cm
The phrase EVERYTHING DISAPPEARS is written on fax that will disappear with the passing of time, given the material quality of the paper and of the ink, and thus render this visual tautology. reescrever
Leap in the street (boombox travelling), 2004 – video, colour, sound, 1’20’’.consists
Consists of a travelling shot of a boombox. The volume of the music from the player causes trepidation to an extent that the camera is destabilised and dragged with it. The images register the ghettoblaster’s fall from the artist’s studio on the fourth floor to a square situated out front. The track is an excerpt from She’s lost control (1979) by the post-punk band, Joy Division.
This exhibition has been structured around issues of video representation, probing the continuos shot as an element of the indexation of reality. The works in MAKING OF raise different considerations, for instance, the evaluation of the mechanisms behind exhibition making – re-equating the place of the creative process itself – the revision of artistic genres and the inscription and embedding of the process of creation into the works themselves.
João Onofre has continuosly exhibited his work since 2002. His oeuvre was recently on view at Magazin 4, Bregenz Kunstverein. Amongst the list of shows scheduled for later this year, João Onofre is working on the project Nuit Blanche, commissioned by the Mairie of Paris and another for the Caisse de Dépôts et Consignations for the Louvre Museum, as well as a group show at the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London and a solo exhibition at I-20 Gallery, New York.