Article excerpt

There is an old expression in Portuguese, "bordas de alguidar," refering to what's left over on the sides of a cooking howl, which the rich don't bother eating but the poor can't afford to turn down. It's a little like the English expression "the bottom of the barrel.M Carla Filipe used the Portuguese phrase as the title for her recent exhibition, making a direct reference to the country's calamitous economic situation. In this exhibition, Filipe recovers the work of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro--a satirical journalist and artist who founded three newspapers in the late-nineteenth century and who created the figure of Ze Povinho, a cartoon figure that was to become the symbol of the Portuguese people. Bordalo Pinheiro has recently been rediscovered by the contemporary Portuguese art scene, particularly for his ceramic work. Filipe wanted to revive his acid political interventions and assert the continuing relevance of his legacy.

Clippings from the original newspapers and depictions of Ze Povinho, along with portraits of contemporary politicians (both Portuguese and international), are incorporated into the four large drawings Filipe presented in the show. The drawings resemble the front pages of sensationalist newspapers. Images and texts collide. A multitude of stories and anecdotes is referred to in each work and all evoke a feeling of disenchantment and lament for the state of the nation.

Facing these works was a floor installation, Maos vazias: a mao nao e so um orgao de trabalho, mas tamhem produto deste (Fmpty Hands: The Hand Is Not Only an Organ For Work But it Is Also a Product of It) (all works 20 11)--an array of forty-one obsolete wood-and-iron work tools. Bought at secondhand markets, these utensils speak not only of nostalgia, but also of an archaeology of manual labor. …


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