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

Eclipse

Eclipse

Lambda print, light box, metal.
30x45x14cm.
2017-2018
In the Eclipse series, initiated in 2017, I use a set of slides rescued from the Flea Market and that, apparently, portrait one specific family’s leisure and celebration moments. The images are presented in light boxes facing the wall, so that the viewer does not have a direct line of sight. I added to each light box a reflective surface, parallel to the image and mounted at a very short distance from it; this surface also fixates the box to the wall. Read more +
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of Mecânica da Ausência II at Galeria Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, Lisboa, Portugal, 2017.
Documentation © Pedro Reis and Carla Cabanas

The Mechanics of Absence II

The Mechanics of Absence II

Installation with synchronised 35mm slide projection, 7 projections, Copper e Tulle. Dimensions variable.
2017

Following another exhibition, held between October and November 2016, Carla Cabanas will present a selection of works that address the idea of presence and absence through a scrutinizing look and a memory that becomes diffused.
By constructing an experience that operates on the image and on the time that belongs to it, the artist investigates the notion of reminiscence and how it is perceived. Through loss and saturation, working with light, shadow and projection, Carla Cabanas creates a device that calls up familiar figurations, where our shadow crosses the image, in a delicate balance between what is absent and what remains or between that which fades, fixes and reflects.

Read more +

Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of Mecânica da Ausência II at Galeria Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon, Portugal, 2017.
Documentation © João Ferro Martins
Vídeo © António MV 

Constantina

Constantina

Intervention on inkjet print, 63x69cm.
2019

During her residence at Pico do Refúgio, Carla Cabanas carried out a research in several photographic archives in São Miguel. Among countless family records, she became interested in the photographs of Luisa Constantina, and this was the starting point for her project. Based on the concept of feedback, as from a camera filming the screen that reproduces the image its capturing, Carla appropriates a photograph of Luisa being photographed, emphasizing the feedback effect of registers and memories.

Bernardo Brito e Abreu

CREDITS:
Exhibition view of Divergent Gaze – Pico do Refúgio, a Prospective Heritage at Arquipélago – Centro de Artes Contemporâneas, Azores, 2019.

The Matrix and the Interval

A Matriz e o Intervalo

Inkjet print on cotton paper, variable dimensions.

2017

During the Walk & Talk Festival artistic residency, in 2016, Carla Cabanas had the opportunity to access part of the photography archive from the Instituto Cultural de Ponta Delgada. This archive contains a peculiar collection from the first half of the 20th century, consisting of photographs of photographs, depicting portraits and landscapes, scenes from the daily life, domestic interiors and aspects of labour. These images result from the act of photographing a photography, a common practice in those days that served several purposes, namely to do photo montages, duplications and enlargements, or simply to preserve the matrix.

Read more +
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of A Matriz e o Intervalo at Instituto Cultural de Ponta Delgada – Walk & Talk Art Festival, Açores, Portugal, 2017.
© Carla Cabanas

Boom Secret

Boom Secret

Intervention on inkjet print, metal. 40x40cm.
2017

Boom is a very small city near Antwerp that has developed around a long road leading to the river Rupel. These photographs depict meticulously that road. Black and white, probably military photographs, showing a series of written references or numerical codes, a date 04Mai’64 and in the end Boom Secret. For years I kept these images as treasure and always wondered what could be the secret. What secret could be hiding in this little town or in these pictures? I decided to analyze the images in search of some information as a kind of archaeology of the image, from which I began to cut and lift and twist the image in search of what it could tell me beyond its two-dimensionality.

CREDITS:
Exhibition view of Boom Secret at Paris Photo 2019 with Galeria Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea, France, 2019.
© Carla Cabanas

Clouds Game

Clouds Games

Wet collodion photograph on glass mounted in light box.
Variable measures.
2016

(…) The exhibition now at display has its starting point in the contemplation of two Jan van Goyen’s (1596-1656) paintings, which belong to Fundação Medeiros e Almeida Collection, “Good Weather” and “Bad Weather”— which are dominated, respectively, by white clouds and dark clouds. Artists Manuel Valente Alves and Carla Cabanas develop their projects interrogating the cosmological relationship of human subject with environment, as well as the way earth and skies constitute themselves as fundamental media for human self-understanding.


(…) Carla Cabanas’s project, entitled “Clouds Game”, consists in 6 collodium photographic plaques of clouds, whose perception changes depending on the viewer point of view, underlining the simultaneous character, abstract and potentially figurative that clouds offer to the human gaze.


(…) In the work of Carla Cabanas, on the other hand, the clouds polymorphism, as well as the fact that their apprehension varies upon the subject’s point of view, questions the instability of our perception; at the same time these images underline the abstract appearance of clouds concomitantly with its intense figurative potential as they appear to the human subject.
The emphasis put in this destabilization is something that was overworked in baroque painting: in the clouds there has no linear perspective to look for, everything is equally distributed in the same space. This perceptive destabilization, technically possible here by the use of wet collodium with backlights, absorbs the viewer in an interpretative game, but also in a disquieting process about his or her place as a subject. In the twenties of last century, Alfred Stieglitz has photographed a series of clouds entitled ‘Equivalents’, exploring their symbolic potential (equivalents, as Rosalind Krauss pointed out, is in itself a symbolist term), but also recalling attention to the framing act, to the importance of the photographic gesture of cropping reality. Carla Cabanas’ clouds also suggest the game between the apparent abstraction and the latent, or subjective, figuration underlining the haziness that every photograph hides behind its supposed exactitude and realism. In a very specific way this images question the subject self-assurance as in the very process of contemplation one must think over the way he understands and apprehends the world.
It is the poetic character of clouds, for its apparent abstract form as for its transitivity inscribed silently in human ecology that is convoked by the two artists.

Margarida Medeiros
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of Andar nas Nuvens at Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida, Lisboa, Portugal, 2016.
Documentation © Valter Ventura

The Mechanics of Absence I

The Mechanics of Absence I

Installation with synchronised 35mm slide projection, 5 projections, dimensions variable.
2016

(…) Carla Cabanas’ work focuses on reinterpreting time and memory, through an idea of loss and saturation.
Changing a set of slides, the artist modifies the story that each image retains, transforming, with that action, what was the registration of the suspended instant, or the crystallization of a special moment, in a living, undefined and fabled time.
Cutting the support and marking an absence, or adding to it other cuts in order to densify the image, Carla Cabanas composes a palimpsest of references that makes room for another look. A look made of layers, where something empties and fills itself, or something forgets and remembers, with the imprecision of what memory erases and keeps.
This is thus about the construction of a vision that translates a complex, stratified and non-linear time. A vision that responds more to emotion than to the rationality of chronological succession, and varies between what each image fixes and what the artist manipulates. (…)

Read more +

Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues
CREDITS:
Exhibition views of Mecânica da Ausência I at Cooperativa de comunicação e Cultura, Torres Vedras, Portugal, 2016.