Sandra Baía’s work holds an inescapable relation with space and body via its sculptural facet. It consists of a discipline, or a methodology, anchored in relations of physicality, particular to that which is sculptural and tridimensional. Such confirmed sculptural work is adjoined by a vocabulary of materials inscribed within its transition to an imagery and symbolic dimension embedded in the titles of Baía’s works. As such, the language, the word, is also a ductile material transformed by the artist, nominating one other perspective of the work. The recent sculpture dated from 2017 and entitled “Simplicity Isn’t Simple” stands as an example. It consists of a polished aluminum parallelepiped volume resting on the floor’s level whose form is altered, as if it had been subjected to a small torsional stress or a physical impact. The parallelepiped volume’s shape is almost regular and, by itself, a simple form, as the title may evince. However, such evince, such tautology, establishes a linguistic ploy with the observer in the sense that what is told by the work’s title is not an exact description of the object, rather its condition as an object set before the observer confronting the latter through its apparent and transformed truth. Furthermore, the work’s gleaming surface accentuates the torsion inserted in the reflecting material, fostering a morphological and visual alteration as cherished by practices of representation in painting and quite present in contemporary sculpture as well.
One other work, “Entalada” (“Wedged”), dated from 2018, consisting of a sphere whose surface is also bright and reflector (a plastic and inflatable body), has been installed between two buildings near their top, capping the construction as something immutable, wedged and static. The entitling nomination, again as a language, is paradoxical, since this sculpture would convert into a displaying screen reflecting the surroundings, transforming and visually reconfiguring space and place, hence opposing the term “wedged” by means of the expanded image moving in the surface.
Both referenced works relate to the entitled sculpture “Is There a Place Before Arriving”, which is temporarily installed in Lisbon’s public space addressed as Terreiro das Missas (The Services Yard).
The structured form, composed by industrial raw materials as typical in Sandra Baía’s work, resembles either a container, a box, a scaffolding, or a frame for the entitling sentence which is presented in neon lettering. Flaunting its monumental scale, such structure advances its double meaning. One of its meanings recalls the ceremonial table where, similarly to an altar, fishing ships were blessed before departure when heading for Terra Nova’s seas during the codfish fishing season. The other meaning possible to account to this installation consists of its transitory condition, much as a mobile and temporary structure, as something in a construction process, as something becoming. Such as anteriorly referred, the word exerts a symbolic role within this context and, with regard to this particular case, such role contradicts both the place and its memory within the city’s dimension, as while it is situated alongside the river, nearby past maritime quests, it is however inexorably riveted to the imaginary of someone departing and someone arriving. It adheres to those places charting the path to a certain destiny while conserving such course’s memory, however much exposing the impossibility of its recapture. “Is There a Place Before Arriving” is the poetic form signalling such former and plural place, equal to the announcement of the path’s pre-existing condition which, within a proposition enounced in relation to the concrete measure of its geometrical and mathematical progression, consists of a map’s fold disclosing only the following pleat.
Its sculptural facet revisits constructivism, since it self-presents to a place which recaptures other places through the word’s incandescence, figuring as a riverside Pharos. Its condition as a project is proclaimed by the preliminary drawings. From their inception, these drawings consist of the thought’s autonomous expression whose practice, liberated from the etching hand, is the constitutive root for the word’s container and, thus, for the places evoked by the artwork which are merely known to consist of the deposit of this place of arrival, celebration and reinterpretation of this public space, and which expands accordingly to the river’s flow.
Terreiro das Missas
Artistic Direction - João Silvério
Project Vicente | 2018
13.09.2018 N 38º42’43.668” W 9º8’21.946” | 2018
Similarly to some Baía’s antecedent creations, the work of art is both present and absent. It will remain (for all times) and (it) has (already) gone. It self discloses either as a discrete presence, concealing itself, or as an assertive form, contrasting the signs of times within its clean minimalism; or yet – perhaps first and foremost – as a spatial impetus, a being-(non-)place resonating the place’s identity, as if insinuating an odd uneasiness at the heart of reality through the elegance of its plastic intelligence. A performance of the idea.
Created as an intervention to be exhibited at Museu do Carmo, the work explores architecture from a simultaneously rigorous and informal angle. In a rupture, the mirroring sphere (an essential symbol) merges a magma of timeless narratives whose human testimony – today, the transients’ reflexion – is a casual rumor, however much also the fundamental factor for the work to be a public being, to be lived, to arouse an atmosphere. In these history bursting ruins, we encounter an invitation for the aesthetics’ unlocking, beyond all formalities, calendars, events and, regarding VICENTE Project’s theme, beyond the divine’s own vicissitudes. Concerning what we are unable to speak of, it is best if we keep silent
The artwork’s title, a last minute trouvaille, are geographic coordinates: N 38º42’43.668” W 9º8’21.946”. These coordinates define S. Vicent relics’ exact arrival location to a countless past centuries Lisbon. In its ephemerality, Sandra Baía’s action – this coordinates’ void translation from a historical fact to a new place (by no means accidentally, a Lisbon’s site of exalted heritage), paradoxically references the perennial continuance of ideas and conceptions. The fundamental’s recurrence, the wordless return, a concretion of past lives and futuristic values, it chiefly concerns the artist’s predication as the testifier for an urge to make sense regardless of any message whatsoever.
Carmo Archaeological Museum
Artistic Direction - Mário Caeiro
ENTALADA | 2018
The presentation of Entalada (stuck) by Sandra Baía at Travessa da Ermida brought up some memories of other artworks. In Lisbon, the Entalados (the stuck ones), was the expression used by Keil to name the figurative artworks made for the yield buildings, predominantly in Avenidas Novas de Lisboa. These artworks were literally, and by and large, placed between the buildings’ entry doors upper part and other architectonic façade elements such as windows or balconies on the first floor, creating a visual effect of tension or squeeze. At that time many of these artworks were women representations and remained commonly known as As entaladas (the stuck ones), origin and inspiration for this installation. In 1961, Christo and Jean Claude presented Wall of Barrels – The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti in Paris. This artwork consists of eighty-nine petroleum barrels piled in a narrow street, for only eight hours, in order to block the street’s circulation. It was thought in the context of the construction of Berlin’s wall in 1961 and the protests and barricades in reaction to Algeria’s war. This feeling of tension, given by something compressed or forced in-between two already existing structures appears in Sandra Baía’s installation, a 5 meters’ diameter mirrored sphere thought specifically to be placed in-between the exterior façades of two buildings in the narrow Travessa da Ermida, allowing the circulation below the piece. Passing by below the artwork the visitors interact with the mirrored sphere the same way one can interact with Michelangelo Pistoletto’s (1933) artworks, making part of it, creating stories, but with a difference: a 360º spherical reflex. Everything around it will be reflexed, including the observer, what takes us to the artwork from 1434 The Arnolfini Couple by Jan Van Eyck, in which it can be found a mirror representation with a circle shape generating images and distorted reflexes of the couple’s room and the objects in it. It is a game of images intensified through distortions and field depth raising the observer’s curiosity at the same time. Tensions and reflexes have been subject of investigation in Sandra Baía’s work throughout time: the tension created by a slight imbalance in structures that are apparently stable or balanced and reflexes by the usage of mirrored material. In the artwork Entalada (stuck), by the artist’s subtle action, the observer’s presence and by the space where it is integrated, a perfect sphere sees its structural perfection being changed.