Curatorial Statement

Many of the foreign descriptions of Azores were written in the context of expeditions, by rationalist minds in tune with the spirit of Enlightenment, in the 19th century. They classify and categorize plants, animals, landscapes and peoples of the islands. But not all dimensions can be measured by rational systems. The magnetic properties of rocks, the tremors of the earth, the impending ascent of the roaring lava, are events that defy logical scales, occurrences that can hardly be predicted. They escape rational systems of thought. Myths or rituals, scared or profane, perhaps best capture the strength and magnitude of such events.

Our expedition, unlike those of the 19th century, is one interested in such immeasurable, irrational, unintelligible phenomena. Taking an approach grounded on empathy, it wants to merge instead of measure, to personify rather than classify, to live and not to explain. It embodies the island and produces experience on the ground, in collaboration with the peoples and the landscapes. Azores was populated by humans in the 15th century and since then humans have tried to domesticate it. But this is not a landscape to be lived on. Thought centuries these islands have expelled thousands when volcanos erupted. The eminent roar of the lava is the certainty that this is a precarious agreement between land and humans.

The rational thought that came to dominate the world in the 19th century is today recognized as deeply connected with global processes of industrialization, and consequently, global warming. Climate change is a phenomena produced by human hands and minds, and one in which certain humans take a position of privilege and power in relation to other species and other peoples. Inspired by Michel Serres’ positioning of natural beings as entities with legal rights, in a time when the sublime is no longer possible because we cannot watch nature from a distant position of safety (Latour), we take this opportunity to make an expedition that rethinks our current relationship with nature and and rehearses alternative approaches.

The Decorators
Jan 2019

Artistas announced in March