Posted by: Jenevive Tatiana
The careful blankness of the stage encourages a sense of anticipation that allows the simplest of gestures and rawest of materials to assume multiple meanings. A series of paper bags are so crisply arranged that they take on the presence of minimalist forms, only to be transformed into comical masks as the artist hoists each bag successively over his head. As each container comes to double for his face we learn that they are not raw and empty, but rife with possibility–already containing form and material, or able to take on new meaning with the simplest of artistic intervention. With these humble, elegant beginnings the artist conjures every dimension of being, and particularly of being-as-artist. They come to relate to the space the artists moves through (shelter, stage), the materials he ingests into his body (food) and the surfaces that cover his body (masks, clothing). Each bag takes on a complex poetic life: once activated by Guedes they become mutable objects, which take on new meaning through each successive intervention and relationship established.
As Guedes identifies himself with his materials (by relating the bags to his body) he suggests that even the simplest act of mark-making also has choreographic dimensions, a direct connection to body and identity. Behind each blind cut or line on the surface of each bag must be an incredibly intimate knowledge of the repercussions of even the smallest corporeal movements–drawing as dancing. And just as each movement is capable of transforming materials, the act of creation also potentially changes the artist. He applies this alchemical sensibility not only to plastic materials, but to sculpting interactions: for example, the empathetic laughter of the audience as the artists repeatedly stabs a pair of scissors into the bag over his head, shifts into the easy laughter of the audience as he cuts out an image of the male genitalia and proceeds to wear the drawing as a skirt. The combined actions become a parable for the generic acts of artistic creation and frustration; a series of creative experiments constituting a “studio practice” that contain both failure and knowledge, contributing to the meaning of each successive gesture. The culmination of all the interventions, relationships and stances adopted by the artist with his quotidian materials is a portrait, hung on the wall parallel to a mirror. The drawing is crude; a self portrait only readable as such based on the history of actions witnessed by the audience. However, just as each paper bag proved to be full of possibility, the blankness of the space after the artist leaves the stage is actually buzzing with invisible movements and memories, the traces of the creative act reified by the dual mirror/portrait installation that remains as evidence of the performance.