Terçolho [Stye] is the most comprehensive exhibition to date by artists João Maria Gusmão (Lisbon, 1979) and Pedro Paiva (Lisbon, 1978). The show spans two decades of filmic, photographic, sculptural and installational work.
An hordeolum, commonly known as a stye, is an ocular inflammation that causes hypersensitivity to light and the sensation of having a foreign body in the eye. Large hordeola may interfere with vision and the perception of reality. The title of the exhibition points to an expanded and para-scientific experience along a trajectory across the oeuvre of this internationally acclaimed duo.
Conceived as a large-scale installation, the show is based on the kaleidoscopic notion of exhibitions within exhibitions: the images unfold as photographic prints, bronze sculptures and multiple soundless projections across the Museum’s galleries and garage. The physical presence of the 16 mm projectors, as well as their arrangement and noise have always been central in Gusmão’s and Paiva’s exhibitions, powerfully impacting and engaging the viewer.
Between 2001 and 2019 João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva collaborated in the exploration of a vast range of fields of plastic experimentation to develop a research that could be termed naturalist. Their oeuvre is an experimental laboratory in which empirical knowledge, existential metaphysics and the boundaries of the perception of reality are questioned. Their works favour paradoxical processes and convoke the unconscious by resorting to nonsense, the absurd and the creation of unlikely situations in games of concealment and un-concealment that explore the ambivalence of analogue and visual communication processes. The duo describe their global project as a sort of ‘recreational metaphysics’.
On the occasion of the exhibition, and in collaboration with publishers/distributors Mousse Publishing, a new publishing project will be launched documenting the duo’s artistic trajectory with a particular emphasis on their discursive production. Unpublished essays by Chris Fitzpatrick (independent curator, former director of Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp, and Kunstverein München, Munich) and Anthony Huberman (director and head curator of CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco) reflect on the artists’ oeuvre, which combines anthropology, drama and scientific research to investigate the unfathomable, a form of heterodox knowledge materializing as ‘poetical and philosophical fictions’. The book also includes a generous anthology of texts by the artists.
João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva have participated in several international biennials, such as the 27th São Paulo Biennale (Brazil, 2006); the 6th Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre (Brazil, 2007); Manifesta 7 (Italy, 2008); the 53rd Venice Biennale (Italy, 2009); the 8th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea, 2010); the central exhibition of the 55th Venice Biennale (Italy, 2013) — The Encyclopaedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. Their solo shows include Papagaio at HangarBicocca, Milan (Italy, 2014); The Missing Hippopotamus at KKV Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (Germany, 2015); Capsule 05 / João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva: Peacock at Haus der Kunst, Munich (Germany, 2016); and Animais que ao longe parecem moscas [Animals that look like flies from afar] at Centro de Arte Oliva, São João da Madeira (Portugal, 2017); Lua Cão [Moon dog] (with Alexandre Estrela) at La Casa Encendida, Madrid (Spain, 2018) and at Kunstverein München, Munich (Germany, 2018).