I Don’t Trust Myself When I’m Sleeping II

CREDITS:
Exhibition views at Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery 2020, Lisbon.
Documentation © Bruno lopes
 

I Don't Trust Myself When I'm Sleeping II

Intervention and gold leaf (22K) on color photographs; variable dimensions.
2018 – 2020

The project “I don’t trust myself when I’m sleeping”, currently with two parts, gives continuity to the artist’s enquiries about the places of memory and photography in the construction of identity narratives.
The project appears initially as a response to a concrete problem. In 2018, the artist was in residence in Berlin and suffered from a crisis of insomnia, which resulted in tiredness, lack of concentration, and galloping anxiety. Regardless of its causes and whether it is a private matter, insomnia as a problem has a political dimension.
Sleep not only enables the body to recover from the wear and tear suffered during waking, but it also contributes powerfully to the formation and consolidation of memory. It also seems to be important for the mental processes underlying intuition and creativity. But, as Jonathan Crary tells us, this fundamental activity of human life, which should occupy at least a third of our time, is under direct attack by late capitalism. Although it has not yet been fully integrated by it, sleep is nevertheless very fragile, and our life is inscribed, in general, in a duration without intervals, defined by the possibility of continuous functioning.
Paradoxically, the artist seems to fall into this trap. Pressed by the need to present results, the artist decides to make the moments of her insomnia productive, contrary to Crary’s idea that sleep is the last instance of resistance to the voracity of inevitable productivity. But she does it according to her rules. Thus, the insomniac artist summons to her work, albeit in a veiled way, the themes and subjects that prevent her from sleeping. Using photographs from family albums found, as is already customary in her practice, the artist finds in them the ideal support to mould the images and characters of her personal history, images that cross the barriers of sleep and wakefulness, experience and memory. In addition to the usual affection with which Carla Cabanas treats the anonymous photographs that she uses in her work, this time she also introduces irony and satire, in the way she stripes and obliterates parts of the original image, populating them with new characters and new senses.

The second part of this project, “I don’t trust myself when I’m sleeping II”, was carried out in 2020. In this series, in addition to scratching the images with the scalpel, Cabanas experiments with gold leaf, inspired by the Japanese restoration technique Kintsugi, about which she acquired practical knowledge in 2017. Kintsugi is a century-old method of ceramic repair, which consists of gluing the broken piece with Urushi natural lacquer and covering the cracks resulting from the gluing with gold. The aim, in making these cracks evident, is to give value to faults and physical changes in objects, caused by time or accidents. In a society obsessed with hiding its weaknesses and fixing a perfect image of itself, even if erroneous, the artist directs her focus to the opposite, summoning the difficult moments of her life as inspiration. As if, by applying gold to her torn drawings, she is softening her ghosts, accepting and even valuing their vulnerabilities and wounds.

CREDITS:
Exhibition views at Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery 2020, Lisbon.
Documentation © Bruno lopes
 

I Don’t Trust Myself When I’m Sleeping

I Don't Trust Myself When I'm Sleeping

Ink on glass, light installation, photographic album, color photographs; variable dimensions.
2018 – 2019

The project “I don’t trust myself when I’m sleeping”, currently with two parts, gives continuity to the artist’s enquiries about the places of memory and photography in the construction of identity narratives.
The project appears initially as a response to a concrete problem. In 2018, the artist was in residence in Berlin and suffered from a crisis of insomnia, which resulted in tiredness, lack of concentration, and galloping anxiety. Regardless of its causes and whether it is a private matter, insomnia as a problem has a political dimension.
Sleep not only enables the body to recover from the wear and tear suffered during waking, but it also contributes powerfully to the formation and consolidation of memory. It also seems to be important for the mental processes underlying intuition and creativity. But, as Jonathan Crary tells us, this fundamental activity of human life, which should occupy at least a third of our time, is under direct attack by late capitalism. Although it has not yet been fully integrated by it, sleep is nevertheless very fragile, and our life is inscribed, in general, in a duration without intervals, defined by the possibility of continuous functioning.
Paradoxically, the artist seems to fall into this trap. Pressed by the need to present results, the artist decides to make the moments of her insomnia productive, contrary to Crary’s idea that sleep is the last instance of resistance to the voracity of inevitable productivity. But she does it according to her rules. Thus, the insomniac artist summons to her work, albeit in a veiled way, the themes and subjects that prevent her from sleeping. Using photographs from family albums found, as is already customary in her practice, the artist finds in them the ideal support to mould the images and characters of her personal history, images that cross the barriers of sleep and wakefulness, experience and memory. In addition to the usual affection with which Carla Cabanas treats the anonymous photographs that she uses in her work, this time she also introduces irony and satire, in the way she stripes and obliterates parts of the original image, populating them with new characters and new senses.

The second part of this project, “I don’t trust myself when I’m sleeping II”, was carried out in 2020. In this series, in addition to scratching the images with the scalpel, Cabanas experiments with gold leaf, inspired by the Japanese restoration technique Kintsugi, about which she acquired practical knowledge in 2017. Kintsugi is a century-old method of ceramic repair, which consists of gluing the broken piece with Urushi natural lacquer and covering the cracks resulting from the gluing with gold. The aim, in making these cracks evident, is to give value to faults and physical changes in objects, caused by time or accidents. In a society obsessed with hiding its weaknesses and fixing a perfect image of itself, even if erroneous, the artist directs her focus to the opposite, summoning the difficult moments of her life as inspiration. As if, by applying gold to her torn drawings, she is softening her ghosts, accepting and even valuing their vulnerabilities and wounds.

CREDITS:
Exhibition views at Paris Photo 2019 with Galeria Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, France.
Exhibition views of I Don’t Trust Myself When I’m Sleeping at GlogauAir – Artist in Residence Program, Berlin, Germany.
© Carla Cabanas

What remains of what it was – Album FMF

What remains of what it was - Album Francisco Manuel Fialho

Intervention on inkjet print, 40x72cm. 2016

(…) I was first interested in the quality and historic value of these images, but then I got caught up in this narrative and its emptiness: an abstract image opening up like a mirror, leaving enough room for imagination to be reflected.

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CREDITS:
Exhibition views of O que ficou do que foi – Álbum Francisco Manuel Fialho at Espaço Adães Bermudes, Alvito, Portugal, 2016.
Documentation © Valter Ventura

Archived Word

What remains of what it was – Archived Word

Intervention on inkjet print, acrylic and wood.
Variable measures.
2014

PALAVRA ARQUIVADA /archived word developed from a set of early 20th century postcards belonging to Carla Cabanas’ own private collection, and some others belonging to Eduardo Portugal’s – collection of Lisbon City Archive – Photography.

Following on the reflection which has been directing her artistic career so far, particularly matters and questions dealing with loss of memory(ies) and the passage of time in documents and images, this exhibition brings to light yet a new configuration in the artist’s work.

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Sofia Castro
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of Palavra Arquivada at Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa – Núcleo Fotográfico, Lisboa, Portugal, 2014.
Documentation © Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa – Núcleo Fotográfico

What remains of what it was – Album Martim Moniz

What remains of what it was - Album Martim Moniz

Intervention on Inkjet print, 40×40 cm.
sound installation, vinyl drawing on the wall
2012-2014

In December 2012 I participated in an artistic residency in Lisbon, organized by the association XEREM in partnership with Triangle Network and the Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa – Fotográfico (Lisbon City Archive – Photography).
The residency, under the title “In transit: between albums and archives” addressed questions regarding place, identity and archive. Starting from the proposed themes I decided to work on the area we were staying and focus on the Martim Moniz square.
The Martim Moniz square has undergone many transformations throughout the these last 100 years . Curiously, when researching the photographic archive’s database, I came across more records of demolitions and constructions that took place around the square than actual documenting images of its many configurations.
I asked myself: what has remained in our memory of the many shapes the square has had (thinking about us as the city of Lisbon itself)?
I decided to work on this in three different ways:
Interviewing people living in the area and asking them to describe in detail one of the configurations the square has had.
Asking other people to draw me a map of the square, also thinking of one of its past configurations.
From the photo archive’s database I printed a selection of images depicting demolitions that took place in the Martim Moniz square and did an intervention on those photos, eliminating the buildings which were not under construction.

Maps

Audio Archive

CREDITS:
Exhibition views of 7ª BIENAL INTERNACIONAL DE SÃO TOMÉ E PRÍNCIPE | 2013, no 
Espaço CACAU, São Tomé e Príncipe and O que ficou do que foi – O álbum Martim Moniz at Museu da cidade, Lisbon, Portugal, 2014.
Documentation © Bernardo Brito e Abreu and Museu da cidade

What remains of what it was – Archived Album

What remains of what it was - Archived Album (AML) - A family in a garden

Intervention on inkjet print. 99×131 cm.
2012

 

“(…) In “O que ficou do que foi ” (“What remains of what once was”), the artist invokes memory imprecision through erasing, scratching, and fading away of images belonging to her closest surrounding: family. The photographic processing torn off – accumulating in the bottom of the frame – erases information on spaces, context and characters. Just like we all unwillingly discard our personal history, until what remains is but ashes from times gone by.”

Valter Ventura

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CREDITS:
Exhibition views of  What remains of what it was – Archived Album (AML) at Arquivo municipal de Lisboa – fotográfico, Lisbon, Portugal, 2012.

What remains of what it was – Album Desconhecido

What remains of what it was - Album Unknown

Intervention on inkjet print. 110x90cm, 110x110cm.
2012

“(…) In “O que ficou do que foi” (“What remains of what once was –Cabanas Álbum), the artist invokes memory imprecision through erasing, scratching, and fading away of images belonging to her closest surrounding: family. The photographic processing torn off – accumulating in the bottom of the frame – erases information on spaces, context and characters. Just like we all unwillingly discard our personal history, until what remains is but ashes from times gone by.”

Valter Ventura
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CREDITS:
Exhibition views of O que ficou do que foi – O Álbum desconhecido at Sala do Veado, Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Lisbon, Portugal, 2017.
Documentation © Valter Ventura

What remains of what it was – Album Cabanas

What remains of what it was - Album Cabanas

Intervention on silver print gelatin proof. 30×40 cm 
2010-2011

“(…) In “O que ficou do que foi” (“What remains of what once was –Cabanas Álbum), the artist invokes memory imprecision through erasing, scratching, and fading away of images belonging to her closest surrounding: family. The photographic processing torn off – accumulating in the bottom of the frame – erases information on spaces, context and characters. Just like we all unwillingly discard our personal history, until what remains is but ashes from times gone by.”

Valter Ventura

 

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CREDITS:
Exhibition views of 90-10 Exposição 20 anos Artes Pláticas Esad at Edifício XXI, Polo Tecnológico de Lisbon, Portugal, 2011.

Memory box

Memory box

Inkjet print on cotton paper, headphones, wood, ink on paper.
2009

On the sum and its parts #1.
When the memory of a space is summoned to become description, all senses overlap: smells, feelings, distances, objects, people…the memory of a place is the memory of a stage and of the play we have acted there. The body of work went on growing, shaped by the length of a conversation, the intensity of sunlight, the chemical reaction of negative film, an X marking the spot in a map.
The whole process was immensely slow. It was important to slower things down, used as we are to immediacy. Each part was the consequence of a previous cause, each of it thought out, tried out and tested. But the sum was also made using the calculation of hazard.

Part 1. On the interviews and the maps that came from them
In «Caixa de Memórias» (memory box) Everything starts with the request “describe the place you remember most vividly”. This method triggers the most different results, and yet they all share one thing: the description, in words, of a mental image, almost photographic (one could dare say), that livens up from going back and forth in the definitions and the imprecisions allowed by verbal language.
The interview is being timed, and later read aloud in my own voice, cleansed of pauses and interjections, and I can, in this way, appropriate their memoirs. By collecting memoirs (after a long period of interviews), Carla Cabanas found a way of confronting a report of past experience’s natural fiction with a new narrative created by the images she produces from these testimonies.
In a mnemonic exercise, she asks the interviewed to draw a map of that space, so that the word can become defined matter, become charted science, and can be visited.

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Maps

CREDITS:
Exhibition views of A casa onde nasci e outras histórias at Galeria Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon, Portugal, 2017.
Documentation © Valter Ventura