CATEGORIA: CATEGORY: Group Exhibitions

Site specific project for Toxic: O Discurso do Excesso, projecto Terminal, organized by Plano 21, Fundição de Oeiras, Lisbon.

The concepts of network and connection are found, along with reality, within the fields of our language most affected by the revolution that derives from the recent advances in communication technologies. The trivialization of terms such as being connected, being in a network, public and private, work or home networks, and their integration in current language, where they often appear in other fields and in a figurative sense, had the effect of underlining connections and particularities of social and group structures that, while not new, due to the evidence have become practically consensual. In the example of Mafalda Santos’ work, “Ambiente de Trabalho”, whose title takes us immediately to the universe of the Windows interface (here in Portuguese and in a delightfully polysemic translation when compared to the dry and sterile “Desktop”) and which uses its organization system, through a diagrammatic composition to create a simplified image of a moment / place of a social and professional group. Without ambitioning a critical position, I dare to write that limited to a documentary posture, not least because it uses the language of the originator, created aiming at universality through the reduction of the possibility of subjectivity and divergence to the minimum. When, on a chronology or a top, she mentalizes and represents a system of people (of which the author is invariably part) and their ties, organizing them through their names and project titles as if they were folder designations ( folder), shows the composition and functioning, the proximity and differences and, finally, the limits and boundaries of the artist’s work environment, which is, without a doubt, the circle and field of the last generations of Fine Arts.

The use of the Alphabet, and through it the representation of names, came to expose (I do not dare explain why it is not yet proven) the previous graphic work on network structures; contrasting lines against backgrounds creating, through the irregularity of the line, volumetric singularities, invoking geographic orographic representations by expanding the minimum unit of the composition (pixel). In these cases, the network is not substantive, does not determine or locate subjects or objects, has no cartographic claim. The paintings are presented as a result of a moment that the artist catalyzes, expressing an instant and a cut, a two-dimensional figuration of a reality that expresses itself and operates on an indeterminable number of axes. This network, which we think is obvious, is built and maintained through the processes of registration, exchange, bond of obligation, but to maintain and regulate it matters and uses an endless number of variables. Through its representation we can only capture a detail and a moment that always lives in the threat of soon ceasing to be so.

There have been those who have ventured to say that the verb to be is the exact origin of the world, a first cause that makes possible and contains within itself the entire grammar of creation, but nowadays suspicions about an alleged conscious field that is unspeakable because it (or external) to the verb, however, seems to us to be transmissible. Quantum reveals to us that each particle in our body is paired with another that can be right next to it or on the other side of the galaxy and also that these pairs of particles have the ability to communicate their state (spin and charge) instantly each other.

From this moment on we can see and structure a Universe in which all its particles are connected to each other through different types of connections forming a hyper-network in which information flows without time and in which it is total and totalizing because it is all and everywhere. When we speak of this frontier field of the transmissible without time and without words (because the verb is time) we refer then to a network structure that is in itself, more than the action, the very history of the action because it occupies the fullness indivisible of time. If we talk about physics, we can also seek poetry for the pure image of what does not fit in words, but which feels and can be shared as an intimate truth. A mechanism of an architecture so simple that it cannot be subject to depart from itself in the path of expression, something that is there, whenever we are not looking. It is interesting to get here for the simple reason of exploring the feeling (paranoid or not) that the way we connect will have a connection itself. This sense of connection can be understood as an essence of language, a structure that produces and is produced by our networks. Language is our door to the world, individuals connect like neurons, our cognitive structure processes thinking obliquely between the dimensions of excess and defect. It is now commonly accepted that our brain does not usually tell us where an object is, but make an average and tell us where it should be allowing it to be possible to see things, for example, in blind areas of our vision or a scarf on someone’s neck simply because he was there an hour ago and should have been there. The concept of obliquity is explained by the need to skip steps to reach results faster (which is, incidentally, an indispensable process for the construction of knowledge through memory and reference). Optimal systems skip the right steps and are therefore more competitive (but not always more reliable). Following this line of thought, there is evidence of fractal geometry which, postulating that the part is equal to the whole or that, at least, contains the essentials of the global structure’s data, makes us believe that skipping steps will not be so so dangerous because the information is protected through repetition. This type of organization and this schematic facility are used in the work of Mafalda Santos as if it were a concave / convex game; the abstraction of their representations allows us to simultaneously understand the works as a macro and micro analysis, and the complexity with which we perceive the system is determined by the distance of the observer and the capacity of its instruments of enlargement and reduction (excess and defect). Here it is important to add that we also refer to “Work Environment” where the use of names becomes redundant when the painting is seen from a distance and are only perceived as a trace or stain but where, if there is a register of the scale, the ambiguity that characterizes the other series.

Consideração sobre o trabalho de Mafalda Santos, José Roseira, 2005.



  • untitled (2009) | Mafalda Santos artist
  • Cosmo/Política #2 Conflito e Unidade | Mafalda Santos artist
    Cosmo/Política #2- Conflito e Unidade
  • Alvará (2013) | Mafalda Santos artist

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