Magazine article Artforum International

Rui Chafes: GALERIA FILOMENA SOARES

Magazine article Artforum International

Rui Chafes: GALERIA FILOMENA SOARES

Article excerpt

It has become a cliche to talk about the overflow of images in our time. We hear again and again about an excess producing a kind of blindness, as if images were so pervasive as to have become transparent, slippery. Another current cliche is that the constant flow of images and information in which we are immersed has accelerated time, leaving us increasingly unable to pause long enough to look, think, or experience in a sustained manner. Yet these truisms can still be useful starting points for reflection, as demonstrated in Rui Chafes's recent installation Tranquila ferida do sim, faca do nao (Quiet Wound of the Yes, Knife of the No), 2000-13. The artist's work to date has been an attempt to arrest time, in part by denying or defeating the senses through a fabrication of a mute and unchanging darkness. But with this exhibition, Chafes seemed to take this tendency further than ever; now it makes less sense to speak of his sculptures as objects than as sensorial, mesmerizing events.

Upon entering the gallery, one passed through a white curtain into almost absolute darkness. It was scary at first--like entering an abyss, even for those who had been in this space many times before. Not only was it impossible to see, but one felt lost in space, completely alone. Very slowly, as their eyes became accustomed to the darkness, visitors would see five shadows beginning to take shape on the wall facing the entrance. The surrounding space began to take on some kind of form and it became possible to gain a sense of one's position. …

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