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Exhibition | CONCHAL

May 13th to June 03rd, 2022

Exhibition view. Photography: Samuel Duarte


Susana Amaral


João Mateus

An altar presupposes reverence.

Both mountain and altar have the same shape in common - a mound shape. Correlation does not imply causation, but it is not irrelevant that many mountains are considered sacred. More important than the act of sacralizing will be the intention that is directed towards, and placed upon, a given topographical region.

Stripped of religiosity, an altar is a monument that crystallizes a tribute - a homage, a thank you.

If a religious altar is erected in the name of a beatified figure, a non-religious altar will be for unnameables, for the organic and synthetic xs. It will certainly be for the unformed, for the unclassifiable, forgotten, periphery, surplus and unprotagonizable xs - for whom we also erected this monument, this text. If the first is singular, the second is collective. If the first is transcendent, the second is earthly.

Both the altar and the memorial share a common arrangement that, regardless of any religious framework, admits sharing, dependence, mutuality and reciprocity between at least two parties. The sacralization of mountains, like the sacralization of rivers, pays respect to an entity, which is always stratified, sedimented, multiple, composed, and which seems to me to always imply the admission of an alliance and bilaterality. In an excerpt I shared with Susana from the book -Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity», Thomas Metzinger, particularly concerned with what it means to have a conscious experience of reality, refers to the temporal perception of the now as an island that rises in the middle of a river.

In this metaphor, this river is the passage of time, from the past towards the future, and the island is our individual subjective and phenomenological experience of the now». The water surrounds the island, passes around the island and crosses the island. The island exists, but it is transparent. It is part of the river, but distinct from the river. The island is the time of the phenomenological experience of the subjective subject, and it will not be a coincidence that water delimits, contours and makes possible the conception of an island.

Heraclitus, like Metzinger, also equated water with the passage of time. If for the first we can get in and out of the river, for the second, we exist inside the river as a rock formation. This difference is significant, and it is even more competent to say all that I could ever attempt here to say on this subject. This small monument honors a biotic, biocentric and heterarchical reality that, in some way, like the image of the shell/oyster shell that animates this exhibition, implies a transnational and transgenerational understanding - of everything.

Shells, like water and oysters, are not subordinated to national borders, legal frameworks, legal regimes or institutional authorities, but to contamination, co-participation and assimilation. An altar does not only presuppose reverence but, above all, communion, cohabitation and conciliation.

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