Solo exhibition, 2023
at Lisbon Municipal Galleries
Exhibition text written by show curator Marta Espiridião:
During the exhibition, a broad and diverse public programme will be offered, allowing the archive-library space designed by Odete for this project to be activated at various times throughout the exhibition.
Speculating on the links between the history of cosmetics, surgery, alchemy, ‘sexual enhancement,’ and artificial intelligence, Odete proposes an installation that evokes the image of a house-museum workshop. Living in this place, which has mysteriously survived in ruins from the 19th century to the present day, is a society that, from a normative point of view, can be seen as depraved, obscene or perverted. Developing libidinal fictions based on stories, artifices, and artefacts, the artist reveals a chapter of her constant dialogue with the DALL-E Artificial Intelligence, a mirror that reveals glimpses of other bodies and visions of other experiences, composing pasts that become preludes to futures.
On the ground floor, a library (both physical and digital) is available for consultation, printing, photocopying and composition, and where the most varied themes, interests, obsessions and fixations can be found. The themes mainly cover magic, secret societies, non-normative historical characters, queer theory, trans-historiography, critical thinking about gender, science fiction, and other artifices. The archive is lively and dynamic, built for anyone who wants to read and learn about the subjects covered here, inviting them to copy and take texts, pages or chapters of interest – or even to be inspired by the selection and collection of written excerpts, more or less contextualised, to build their own archival book.
As an assembly can only be constituted through assemblage, this library-archive space will be activated at various times throughout the exhibition through readings of these (and other) books. Authors, thinkers, artists and theorists have been invited to share books and ideas in a kind of book club where people can discuss and reinterpret the works that make up Artifício’s library. The assembly space will also host other activations and artifices such as tarot cards, tea leaf readings, soundscapes, and ancestral balms. On the upper floor, we find material relics of this vanished society, whose mission was to collect and record lost knowledge about alchemy, botany, beauty, and magic. A long textile piece unfolds before our eyes, weaving the faces and bodies that escaped normative logic into history. Positions of hands, stars, demons, and flowers make up complex schemes, where artifices of calculation reorganise the signifiers of reality into narratives we did not yet know were possible. A Herbarium, full of recipes, petals, and prompts, can be carefully leafed through – pages of (al)chemical arts that beautify eyes and lips, plants that modify the body and voice, music that enchants the spirit and skin – scrolls that would never have a place in the history of the world of white cisnormativity and Western patriarchy.
Also on the upper floor, a video-essay on Beauty as technology combines elements of contemporary internet culture with an aesthetic from the past to create a unique visual and conceptual ecosystem, where Time is secularised and where disobedience to the writing of hegemonic History becomes a tool for study. Odete methodically dissects the artifices of Beauty and emphasises the importance of trans and gender non-conforming bodies in the development of this embodied ‘discipline.’
Odete operates like an archaeologist: she digs, collects and cleans stories like pearls, which she then wraps in silks to present to us. Waste no time questioning notions of reality or the imaginary – we know that ‘history’ is written by dominant forces that deliberately exclude that which does not conform to their standards. The characters are timeless, their questions are still those of the past and will be those of the future: they belong simultaneously to all times, as real and artificial as the present. Odete – a time traveller, builder of worlds, alchemist of the invisible, historiographer of the future – conjures spells, words and flowers in the basket of fiction; in the air a seductive perfume that urges us to question, is not artifice a reality in the making?