Improbable Anagrams. Works From The Serralves Collection

Museu - Ala Álvaro Siza
24 FEB 2024
Anagramas improváveis. Obras da Coleção de Serralves

Sónia Almeida

Photo © Filipe Braga

Improbable Anagrams is the first exhibition of the Serralves Collection to be presented in the recently-inaugurated Museum extension, the Álvaro Siza Wing, dedicated to receiving in the future the collection in all its forms, or to architecture and the different archives placed with the Serralves Foundation.

Although conceived by the very same architect who designed Serralves Museum when it opened 25 years ago, this new building offers a very different experience of enjoying the space – by counting, at least on the floor where the contemporary art collection is to be presented, on a succession of galleries of a relatively modest size which allow us to potentially view all at once the contents of different rooms. By freeing the visitor from following a predefined circuit, the Álvaro Siza Wing enabled the curators of this selection of works to imagine an exhibition that challenged preconceived notions or approaches to the Serralves Collection, instead bringing out unforeseen, intriguing relationships between artists’ works from different generations and countries of origin; we could say that the curatorial team of the current exhibition, wishing to take advantage of the building’s characteristic flow, concurrency and potential for reciprocation, wished to reflect these same qualities in conceptual terms.

Based on the figurative anagram, the idea was to create an exhibition that in itself contained multiple possibilities for articulation and understanding. At the same time, its title is a reference to one of the main characteristics of Portuguese contemporary art – its relationship with language – and to a group of artists (specifically Ana Hatherly and E.M. de Melo e Castro) who played, through Experimental Poetry, a fundamental role in the onset and development of contemporary expression in Portuguese art. Improbable Anagrams is a reflection on how the Serralves Collection is a touchstone for these artistic-literary movements of the 1960s and 70s – as well as the feted Portuguese exhibition Alternativa Zero (1977) and the exhibition-manifesto which birthed the Serralves Museum, Circa 1968 (1999) – but which looks at the past with the eyes of the

present day, namely through dialogues between works produced at times and in geographies that were truly far apart. And so, besides a commission (Portuguese artist Luisa Cunha produced a sound work specifically for the new building), there are a series of recently-acquired works by relatively young artists (Martine Syms, Juliana Huxtable, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Zanele Muholi, Julie Mehretu, Arthur Jafa, João Pedro Vale & Nuno Alexandre Ferreira, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Alexandre Estrela and Trisha Donnelly, among others), some of which have been adapted to the space with the full cooperation of their makers, side-by-side with the works of artists belonging to older generations or considered of historical note (examples being Joan Jonas, Lourdes Castro, Lothar Baumgarten, Cabrita, Julião Sarmento, Paula Rego, Lygia Pape, Ana Jotta and Marisa Merz, among many others). And why? For dual, only apparently contradictory reasons: on the one hand, to offer new perspectives on works considered historical, in the light of themes and issues raised by the more recent pieces; and on the other, to understand how the reciprocity between works produced at very distinct moments in time can supplant a certain “frivolousness” to reflect common, more structural concerns. By way of example, we could mention Lourdes Castro, Joan Jonas, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Juliana Huxtable as artists who oblige us to rethink our relationship to nature (and, as we do so, with Anthropocentrism and even the concept of what “natural” really means), or Martine Syms and Arthur Jafa (who appear at the beginning and end of the exhibition) as examples of artists who represent a new kind of relationship with the production and dissemination of images, and in the case of Jafa, with cinema.

If anagrams often are a resource for games where players try to make the largest number of words using the available letters, Improbable Anagrams is an exhibition which endeavours to trigger the greatest number of synapses possible, with the selection of works being shown.

Curators: Marta Almeida, Isabel Braga, Inês Grosso, Ricardo Nicolau, Joana Valsassina and Philippe Vergne.


Mecenas da Exposição

Anagramas improváveis. Obras da Coleção de Serralves desenvolvido por Bondhabits. Agência de marketing digital e desenvolvimento de websites e desenvolvimento de apps mobile