Critics’ Picks

Manuela Marques, Point de fuite (Vanishing Point), 2019, ink-jet print, 43 1/4 x 65".

São Miguel

“Weather Station”

Arquipélago – Contemporary Art Center
Rua Adolfo Coutinho de Medeiros s/n 9600 - 516 Ribeira Grande
July 12–October 20, 2019

In the Azores, it is common to experience what feels like all four seasons in a single day. For “Weather Station,” Manuela Marques and Sandra Rocha inhabit the roles of artist, meteorologist, and geologist in order to explore the islands’ topography and history. In the exhibition’s first room is Rocha’s Escuta (Listen) (all works cited, 2019)—a wall-spanning grid of sixty photographs, taken during a three-minute window, of the white and blue swirls of coastal waters. Projected on the opposite wall is Marques’s R.A.S, a graphic projection based on seismic records registered by the local volcanology center, its undulating lines moving upward like a waterfall in reverse. While these works attempt to tune in to the tumult of the natural world, they also evince the elusive control humans seek over nature by using the orderly language of rectilinear arrangements and scientific measurement.

Marques’s photographic series “Surface Sensible 1–5,” displayed in the show’s second room, depicts sets of crumpled, mountainous sheets of iridescent cellophane in local environments, a visual metaphor for the indented features of a volcano. Close by is Point de fuite (Vanishing Point), a photograph of a man standing in front of a lake that reflects the surrounding greenery, vivifying Caspar David Friedrich’s theme of introspection in nature with its lush palette. In the third gallery, occupied solely by Rocha’s work, a series of large dark prints, “Pinturas monstruosas da baleia” (Monstrous Whale Paintings), portrays the almost imperceptible silhouettes of sleeping sperm whales—common visitors to the islands, where, in the late ’80s, whaling was slowly replaced by whale watching. The exhibition creates a space where the body, like a delicate weather vane, filters the subtle geological and atmospheric variations of this peculiar territory.