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November 18th to December 2nd, 2022

Exhibition view. Photography: Bruno Lopes


Lisette van Hoogenhuyze, Mané Pacheco, Pedro Moreira e Salomé Lopes


Isabel Casey

Myths and legends, folklore and fairytales have long been dismissed as stories to entertain and frighten children.

In weaving fantasy and imagination, the wisdom they carry has been disregarded, neglected in favour of logical and rational information.

Pearls divers and storytellers brings together a group of contemporary artists who share an interest in mythologies, and whose work champions these alternative narratives and their ongoing relevance and wisdom, for the restorative power they contain.

Presenting the artist as storyteller and pearl diver, bringing the “rich” and “strange” to light. Personal experience and mythical narratives are transformed into artworks that serves as conduits for viewers (who are listening to hear their own stories.

Once upon a time, a group of refugees sheltered together in Lisbon, listening as new ideas of the past were read aloud.

Many years later, this approach was described by one of these individuals - Hannah Arendt - through the metaphor of pearl diving. It was her way of illuminating and elucidating the work of her dear friend Walter Benjamin. 'The Storyteller' tells us much of his approach, lamenting the loss of storytelling, he connected the retreat of this art form - in which experiences could be exchanged ‘mouth to mouth’ - against the rising ‘dissemination of information’.

Today we are overloaded with information, always a swipe away from a plethora of content. The more we scroll, click and tap, the greater the sense of disenchantment and chaos, and the more ancient wisdoms, an attuned connection with the natural world, and the joy of imagination are lost, forgotten, and dismissed.

Mythologies have played an integral part of civilizations around the world, telling the stories of humanity and it's relation to the world around us. Within these stories, beliefs, values, and truths can be found to the most basic and fundamental questions of human existence. Long before these tales were set down in words, visual and verbal tellings conveyed such magical narratives. Contained within these stories and their tellings - from pre-historic cave paintings to fireside orators - is an ever-potent exchange of experiences.

The artists in this exhibition come together to form a constellation of pearls. Through fantasy and imagination, they engage with the overlooked or under-recognized moments and stories, bringing the 'rich' and 'strange pearls back from the deep depths of the sea. Magic implied conjures the presence of another world, in which we are called to match these acts of imagination and consider the invisible agencies at play. Between worlds we cross from one threshold to the next, where wonder and unease walk side-by side.

I. "The Storyteller takes what he tells from experience… and he in turn makes it the experience of those who are listening to his tale.”

Walter Benjamin, 'The Storyteller', Illuminations, 1969

II. "Like a pearl diver who descends to the bottom of the sea, not to excavate the bottom and bring it to light but to pry loose the rich and the strange, the pearls and the coral in the depths, and to carry them to the surface"

Hannah Arendt, 'Introduction', Illuminations, 1969


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