Critics’ Picks

View of “Effigiae,” 2012.


Sancho Silva

Kunsthalle Lissabon
Rua José Sobral Cid 9E
September 22–December 15, 2012

In his poem “On the Nature of Things,” Lucretius suggests that images are like a second skin: Mimicking their particular material forms, they float freely in the ether. For his first solo show in Lisbon, Sancho Silva stages this poem as an installation, precisely titled as Effigiae, 2012, which is Latin for “ghosts.” The main entrance to the Kunsthalle has been replaced by a mirror, which duplicates the space and prevents access—the museum has set up another entry nearby. Within the exhibition, it becomes evident that the mirror is in fact a spyglass, simultaneously allowing and blocking the flow of images.

In the first room a dried octopus and netting trap are hung from the ceiling, their shapes illuminated by a flickering strobe light. The projected shadows make both objects collide, giving rise to an optical illusion: the octopus trapped inside the net. Indeed, projected images flicker throughout the exhibition—within Silva’s world, objects exist in three forms, the object itself, its shadow, and a second shadow, which is illuminated via an optical lens. In each, projected images act as at once duplicates and distortions of the original object. If in his previous works Silva created disorientating architectural structures aimed at altering the physical and mental experience of a specific space, with this new body of work his attention has geared toward the perception and ontology of images themselves.