Albuquerque Mendes (Trancoso, Portugal, 1953), one of the major names to come to the fore in the Portuguese art scene during the 1980s, combines in his practice painting, performance, happening and installation. Mendes explores themes from pop culture, popular traditions, religious forms and rituals, as well as the historical-social conditions around the circulation, legitimisation and reception of the work of art. His performances, in which music plays a central role, contribute to a perpetual questioning of some myths embedded in Portuguese history and in western culture.
Activated on the opening day, the work ‘Installation (Tango)’ remains throughout the exhibition period as a sculpture, or as an empty stage, flanked by a monitor showing a video of the performance in loop. This stage waiting to be occupied consists of a circular platform over which hangs a red velvet curtain that immediately suggests the proscenium arch of a theatre. During the performance, a couple of tango dancers are led by the artist onto the small stage to execute, to the sound of famous tango songs, complex choreographies where the footwork acquires an unprecedented protagonism. The curtain, suspended about half a metre from the platform, allows us to see no more of the performers than the lower part of their legs – which makes the foot movements even more scrutinized, associating sensuality to everything that, without being visible, is suggested.
Organisation: Serralves Foundation – Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto
Image: Albuquerque Mendes, Installation (Tango), 2001.Coll. Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto. Artist’s donation in 2006.
Photography: Filipe Braga