Under the title ‘Passagem de Nível’ [Level Crossing], Rui Calçada Bastos presents a set of works that have as their main motif an itinerary that is guided by chance, by encounters and by an indiscipline of the gaze, an itinerary that does not fulfill itself at its point of arrival. Over time, his work has developed a multiplicity of approaches intent on questioning the image as the correlate of an event, or as a recording of a particular, identified and named reality. However, this diversity of means and open-field approach bring us again into contact with a kind of absurdity we find in elements from our everyday life that inspire a certain disfunctionality, such as the photograph Untitled that features an interrupted line which we recognise as a road centre line, which has been irregularly painted by accident. Besides that, Calçada Bastos reutilises subjects and contexts from his work as means to explore poetical and sociopolitical transitions that confront us with that infinite itinerary, in the sense that each image conveys the absence and consequent increase in value of a certain object, as if the path to reach the object was the object itself, as the addressee of a poetics that moves towards an expanded field and takes over the mediation once left to visual means.
The sculpture Level crossing that was built in the gallery’s space is itself an instance of the artist’s contradictory approach. The marks on the wall indicate that a stairway was once there. These marks, which we may immediately associate with memory, also reveal a moment in time, a duration, as well as a sense of change and transitoriness that is sublimated by that architectural element as it reconnects spaces and various levels of the body’s transit. The opposite side of the sculpture offers to the viewer the projection of a work on video, Another sequence of events. This contradiction between the past and its reconstruction from the fragment and real-time footage is what draws us to use forms of recording and organising memory.
The expanded poetics I have mentioned focuses on the disordered movements of things in the world without, however, searching for an answer or a purpose in them. It is, in Rui Calçada Bastos’ work, an indiscipline focused on finding again itineraries and paths that thus attain a new eye level.
Joao Silvério is a Lisbon based curator currently working as curator for the Art Collection of the Luso-American Development Foundation (www.flad.pt). Created the independent project EMPTY CUBE in October 2007.
Currently Vice – President of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) Portuguese section