RESSACA . BRUNO DE ALMEIDA

The Portuguese word ressaca translates to either “hangover” or “undertow” in English – in both cases meaning an aftermath or something that produces an effect. The abnormal movement of the undercurrents. The physical symptoms that appear when the toxic effects begin to leave the body. The nausea and the storm surge that submerges the coastline. The omen of psychological wounds and the promises of change. The currents that drag swimmers and the detritus that gets cast up on the beach. The ressaca foreshadows that what is to come will be different from the past. It is doubt, clouded vision and projection. Ressaca is simultaneously a moment of synthesis and a turning point, it is a culmination and a re-beginning. The end, is abandoned.

A retrospective look at the artworks and research that precedes Ressaca will find a work whose scope is mainly defined in relation to architecture, especially the modernist movement and its subthemes, specificities, “ideological lapses”, “weaknesses”, and “unfulfilled promises”, among others. Underlying the circumscribable themes there are divergent desires and interests that sporadically appear, making it hard to delineate relationships of causality between the work and the discourse. The ressaca reconciles such imprecisions that emphasize the comfort of a “speech” which has a definite message, an intelligible critical aim, an end. The ressaca also allows for a momentary undoing of the prescriptive associations or metaphoric analogies, giving rise to an indeterminate and propositional state/space.

A balance between overdetermination and the unforeseen underlies a large part of the production of Lucas Simões. If, on the one hand, his pieces begin with the extreme preciseness of the vectorial grid of the CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, on the other, they presuppose the imprecisions of their manual making, the mutation of the material over time, the unpredictability of the contact with the spectator, among others unforeseeable aspects. The rigorous planning that goes into the pieces makes these expected/desired unforeseen outcomes all the more powerful. Thus, the “final work” does not represent the instant at which the artist “loses control” of the artwork in face of the contingencies of the real; rather, it denotes the development of the happenings that were previously calculated and granted to the work.1

In his large-scale installations, Lucas Simões engenders situations where the visitor’s movement through the exhibition space presupposes a reconfiguration of the work, whether by a physical “confrontation” between the viewer and the piece, or by a radical shift in the perception of the work according to the observer’s specific position.2 As “participation” is nearly inevitable in these works, they avoid the paternalism of an edifying “interactive” experience. In the spatio-temporal experience of Lucas Simões’ installations, the certainty of the design grid becomes a vortex, a labyrinth;3 it creates places marked by a subliminal and ambiguous tension, between the threatening and the playful, where the distinction between controller and the controlled becomes blurred; it declares its danger of imminent rupture and its precarious balance;4 it refers to the visual vocabulary and experience we inherit from the streets; it cites the tension between the idealized notions of space and the reality of its physical manifestation and everyday appropriation.5 By circulating through the exhibition room, the viewer contributes to the work’s permanent reconfiguration or even to its “destruction,”6 maintaining it in a limbo between ruin and construction.

Although in most of Lucas Simões’ works one can grasp on an architectural scale, miniaturization and giantism are inherent qualities of his sculptural pieces. Such sculptures are structured based on the intersection of two types of operation: the appropriation of objects and the exploration of determined materials that lead to the creation of new artifacts. Through carefully considered combinations and juxtapositions, Lucas creates compositions that enlarge the “vibrations” of each one of the parts, intensifying the formal limits of each element in order to allow for the emergence of other narratives that are inherent to them but which remain dormant under their “uses”. The exchangeability of scales makes the viewer “measure” these artworks through an enlargement or miniaturization of his own body. The fictional possibility of walking over the topographies7 or of dwelling in the proto-monuments8 and buildings molded by Lucas Simões is contradicted by an enclosed dimension the pieces seem to contain, something to which we do not have access, whose existence we can only glimpse and suppose.

The objects9 featured in Ressaca combine a series of operations recurrent in the artist’s sculptural research – such as the use of light and fragile materials that impose forms on the materials that we associate with solidity, weight and permanence; as well as the importance of gravity, of balance, and of the void – with a set of formal decisions that point to an equation never before seen in Lucas Simões’ practice. But the state of ressaca prevents an interpretative or prescriptive discourse that would “tame” these pieces, since they beckon for a more obscure existence, less subservient to themes and labels. To the infeasibility of conclusions the ressaca adds the certainty of the discourse which gives space to a projective indetermination and which antecipates and incites desirable unforeseen outcomes. The end, is abandoned.

The notes describe works by Lucas Simões, the titles in bold font correspond to the works in the exhibition Ressaca:

1. Engessados, 2014 – fragile plaster sculptures that reinterpret the hinged, manipulatable Bichos sculptural series by Lygia Clark as though they were paralyzed and fossilized in plaster. The pieces are then arranged on an abrasive surface where the public can manipulate them; the friction between the surface and the plaster wears down the pieces until they completely disappear.

2. Ressaca, 2018 – Installation composed by fifty-two metallic panels articulated with one another, each totally or partially closed with material such as steel, PVC, perforated sheets of wood, foam, steel screens, mosquito netting, cellular polycarbonate (which refers to the translucent plane that delimits the entire perimeter of the gallery). Each panel possesses two rotating wheels that allow them to slide on the floor so the set can be reconfigured by the visitors. The 65-meter length of this work corresponds to the dividing line between the terrain of Casa Triângulo and the public space.

3. Caixão Perdido, 2012 – A labyrinth whose design results from the decomposition of an orthogonal grid juxtaposed to a space of variable proportions and shapes. The installation occupied a space that had then been recently opened up by breaking down some of the building’s walls. This site-specific work was carried out in the space that is currently that of Pivô, in the Copan Building.

4. Grave Gravidade, 2016 – a wall of concrete blocks constructed without foundations, without a structure and where the mortar is substituted by layers of foam. An area of danger is marked off around it because there is a real risk that it might fall over.

5. quatro cantos entre quatro paredes, 2015 – A project involving a set of installations for the public space, consisting in various compositions of white walls whose arrangements give rise to minimal, labyrinthine paths with an alternation between protected and exposed spaces. The absence of rules, explanations and monitoring makes it possible for the citizens to spontaneously appropriate the space.

6. Recalque diferencial, 2015 – The exhibition room’s floor is covered by a thin layer of concrete over a foam “mattress”. The weight of the visitors who enter the space makes the floor crack and sink down momentarily, gradually returning to its original position through the natural reconfiguration of the shape of the foam. Over the course of the exhibition, the floor accumulates the cracks resulting from the paths taken by the visitors through the room.

7. provável horizonte series, 2013 – Objects of everyday tactile memory, reproduced in cement and overlain on topographic scale models made of paper.

8. Abismos series, 2017 – Concrete objects and reams of paper where the two materials are correlated through relationships of weight, pressure and gravity. The pieces of concrete, with different forms and textures, will eventually present cracks and splits due to the constant mutation of the material and the forces and efforts to which they are submitted. The position of the paper is molded by this rigid structure.

9. The series you text nothing like you look, 2018 – A series of sculptures whose pieces create a dialogue between the material that gives them their body and a series of written messages that inspired their production. Each of the pieces originates based on a phrase, in its original language, which is used in the first part of the artwork’s title. When the piece is finished the artist completes its title with a second line from another language chosen according to the reading of the finished artwork.