Atlantic - Journey to the center of the earth

Mónica de Miranda
7 Jun - 27 Jul 2017

Atlantico - Journey to the center of the earth
Of becoming (and of death)

The work of Mónica de Miranda can be understood as an agent that continually reconnects artistic processes with the transitory condition of the spectator. Regardless of the themes that she investigates, or of socio-political reflections that strap in her identity a real and emotional sense with the place and history of those who inhabit it, her works contain part of her self-referential experience but not always autobiographical, because it is not a testimony of the journey but of someone who recognizes herself in the transition and in the territorial change.

This change, or this logic of circulation, lies not only in the fact that she has lived in several countries and known different cultures, but essentially in the way she interprets the temporal relations and the memory of these experiences, that contribute to the construction of meta-narratives which are articulated under a line/time; as an information flow that integrates seemingly diverse places and temporalities. This abstract line locates places that intersect at different moments of time, and in the specific case of her work they are not reduced to a linear determination of the past, but rather to recognize the temporal correlatation that allows an active relationship of the subject over the present.

In this sense the exhibition "Atlantic - Journey to the center of the earth" is exemplary of her work process for two main reasons. The first is present in the title in which we can infer two apparently contradictory planes, the first being the word that determines an immense and mutant geographic mass that is the Atlantic Ocean; and the second is the Journey to the Center of the Earth, a reference to Julius Verne's utopian work that is close to her. However, the placement of the hyphen amplifies this transitory possibility which, although present in her work, is an aggregating element that expresses the multiplicity of senses in the reception of the same by the viewer, having as a structuring line the reference to two substances: water and earth which are opposed in their constitution.

The second reason that leads me to this brief reflection is the duality between the ocean and the earth, a physical but simultaneously immaterial differentiation, an imaginary that goes back to the beginnings of humanity, and for this same reason metaphysic: between fluidity and solidity. It is riven by the need to know what is hidden beneath the earth which naturally supports the ocean and breathes in the volcanic mouths of the Atlantic islands of the Macaronézia, such as the Azores or, in this case in particular, the Cape Verde archipelago, specifically in Ilha do Fogo (Island of Fire).

Monica de Miranda recognizes in this island an intensity of the life of our planet in the sense that it is renewed by the volcanic eruptions that ferment of fire and of lava that immediately cools and everything crystallizes, everything transforms and updates; in an approximation to the paradoxical duality that the presence of the volcano contains: between life and death. The photographs of women dressed in black with bare feet, as in "Untitled. From the series City-Scapes" and "Formation", or the artist’s own body in the diptych entitled "Horizon", are relevant in the sense that this figure transmits the idea of ​​osmosis with the burned soil in which its own regeneration survives the desertified landscape. The volcano is a presence that rises in the landscape and is also a recurring image in the collective imagination and visual representation throughout history. But in this work of Mónica de Miranda is, above all, a sign that presents a second skin that models and transmutes the landscape, not only by the visual mantle that covers all in an ash relieve, but because it announces an interior and organic experience that resides in an unknown place, so close to the center of the earth, whether this model is an imaginary and fictional construction or a given geological matrix.

And as a fictional construction the intervened pigmented and waxed series of photographs -entitled "Bedrock"- rescue this intermittent materiality which, while present, merges into the printed image affirming in artist's gesture the intervention on the image as a recording of a journey; a time that is updated in its finalization.

Under the same methodology, a sculptural object in the form of a library shelf, contains black sand inside a box in its base. This natural element, the black sand, is also subject to the logic of the image but escapes to the photographic, contributing to the construction of meta-narratives that are pointed by references that approach  territorial mapping. However, this mapping is only recognizable if we take into account the geography of places and the temporal correpondence that is continually reorganized in the becoming that Monica’s work represents, in each layer, or in each register that welcomes her affections, and undoubtedly in her politic reflection that confronts us as image/time of the places that Monica de Miranda seeks in the correpondence of the Self with the Other.

João Silvério