Clouds Games

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


(…) 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


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