Glory Hole - Raree Show
Glory Hole - Raree Show
Located under the stairs of the gallery’s building, Glory Hole presents a scale and dimensions that deviates from the conventional standards of architectural exhibition areas (2,15 x 1,38 x 0,90 cm). For the program's second show, researcher Bruno Mendonça invited artist Keila Alaver.
text by Bruno Mendonça:
The term Raree Show (Espetáculo Raro, in Portuguese) was appropriated and developed as a conceptual proposition throughout the inaugural exhibition program of the Glory Hole space at Galeria Jaqueline Martins in the first semester of 2015. Based on this conceptual input I invited artists who, in my opinion, present works that offer the chance to engage with the notion of "Raree Show". One artist who I always felt was very important to include in this project was Keila Alaver. In my view, the idea of “Raree Show” can be conceived as metaphorically present in the artist’s entire oeuvre. In her installations, she creates environments that operate in an intermediate fashion, somewhere between the cabinet of curiosities, theatre and decor. In works such as A Loja [The Store], Floresta Banheiro [Forest Bathroom”, Jardim Pele de Pêssego [Peach Skin Garden] and Corpo Mobília [Furniture Body], this is extremely evident. Instigated, therefore, by the gallery space and this old form of entertainment, that could conceptually unfold other issues from the notion of “Raree Show”, the artist used the expression “Wonderful Box” (sanduk al-ajayib) – the name given to this kind of entertainment in Ottoman Syria – to create her project. Keila thus transforms the glory hole space into this kind of "wonderful box". Based on this proposal she develops an inventory within her own art, displacing pieces, objects, elements and techniques from previous works to build this environment. For this inventory the artist refers to the Cabinets of Curiosities, popularly called “Wonder-Rooms” in the 16th and 17th centuries, which displayed all sorts of collections, generally organized into four categories: artificialia, for objects made or modified by man (antiques, art works, etc.); naturalia, for creatures and natural objects; exotica, for exotic plants and animals; and scientifica, for scientific instruments. The artist again creates in this space a hybrid setting open to various interpretations, for we can think of the installation as a spatialized book, a strange theatrical play or what we might call a pre-cinema.
These environments are extremely complex and present something uncanny through a great mixture of references, styles, aesthetics and languages that are part of both the art universe and other cultural fields. It could be said that just like these other environments created by the artist, the “Wonderful Box” installation is at once baroque, Dadaist, surrealist, punk, gothic, etc. That is what Keila’s works are like, difficult to categorize, difficult to classify, difficult to catalogue, difficult. The artist reminds me of a small text by the critic Bernard Stiegler which he calls “The Noncurrent” . Stiegler critically questions more specifically the notion of contemporary and how it occurs in the field of art, creating problematic relations. As the author himself maintains, perhaps art is too contemporary. At a time when everything is so de-coded, more works like Keila Alaver’s, in which everything is strange, might be interesting. Everything is strange! That’s a good thing!