Musa paradisiaca is a dialogue-based project by Eduardo Guerra and Miguel Ferrão. Founded on temporary partnerships with individual and collective entities of varying competence, it assumes different shapes, while always maintaining a discursive reference. Hence, it proposes to gradually construct a thinking family which is revealed by many voices.
CASA-ANIMAL [ANIMAL-HOUSE], BoCA - Biennial of Contemporary Arts, Lisbon, March 19 — April 7, 2017
MAN WITH REALLY SOFT HANDS, solo show by Musa paradisiaca at Galeria Múrias Centeno, Lisbon, March 15 — April 15, 2017
MASTERS OF VELOCITY, solo show by Musa paradisiaca at Dan Gunn, Berlin, November 26, 2016 — February 18, 2017
CONVERSATIONS: RECENT PORTUGUESE ART IN THE SERRALVES COLLECTION, group show at Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, curated by Suzanne Cotter and Ricardo Nicolau, September 16 — January 22, 2017.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK, group show at CIAJG, Guimarães, curated by Nuno Faria, July 15 — December 31, 2016.
ODD OBJECTS: AN ESSAY ON PROTO-SCULPTURE, group show with Musa paradisiaca at CIAJG, Guimarães, curated by Nuno Faria and f.marquespenteado, July 1 — December 31, 2016.
ANTÓNIO CACHOLA COLLECTION: MUSA PARADISIACA AND MAURO CERQUEIRA, duo show at Chiado8, Lisbon, curated by Delfim Sardo, March 3 — April 22, 2016.
October 18, 2015 - January 17, 2016, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France
Solo show curated by Elfi Turpin
Talk with Tomé Coelho
"Your father was a sphinx and your mother a night."*
This is what springs to mind every time I get ready to talk about "Alma-Bluco", a Musa paradisiaca solo exhibition: a masking sentence, an enigmatic injunction, almost a spell, which so totally informs the genesis and the contours of this exhibition that it leaves room for not a single other word.
And yet things remain to be said: Musa paradisiaca is a project by Eduardo Guerra and Miguel Ferrão which tends towards the construction of a multivoiced family of thought. The "Alma-Bluco" exhibition is a family reunion: a coming-together of entities and tutelary figures which Musa paradisiaca has encountered and incorporated into its practice, into the shaping of a magical mode of thinking made of myths, stories and acts born of vernacular belief systems.
One day Musa paradisiaca made the acquaintance of Francisco, custodian of a steam-driven machine he has to fire up regularly to keep it in working state. Last year at CRAC Alsace Musa paradisiaca presented Ecstasy & Eden, a 16 mm film that observes and ventriloquises the awakening and the vital energy of this machine, accompanying it with a group of pitch sculptures. In this work Eduardo and Miguel pin down the intense connection between the man and the machine – a kind of giant, slumbering beast that dreams together with Francisco as he rests beside it and keeps it warm.
For some months now Musa paradisiaca has been working in a bakery. At night Eduardo and Miguel make bread sculptures that they serve during the day in a museum Canteen. The bakery turns out to be the beating heart of a human activity that takes place when all the others stop: a place where a mysterious nocturnal force is capable of creating food. One evening the baker explained to them why large animals sleep standing up:
"When an animal lies down, its internal organs change place, causing suffocation. So an animal that falls over can never get up again."
And then one of them remembered this dream:
"One stormy night rife with the barking of dogs, the life-size wooden mould of a horse was lying on the ground."
The exhibition "Alma-Bluco" – "Raw Soul" – takes place at the junction of these observations and experiences, on the cusp between night and day. And CRAC Alsace, which has taken it under its roof, becomes the locus of apparition and transformation of the hybrid bodies of the Singer, Colina, Francisco, Nuna and Poppe, all of them – "Freebooter foreigner underdog bungler thief"** – sphinxes trapped between two worlds."
* Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le Larron", Alcools – poèmes 1898-1913 (Paris: Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1920).
Elfi Turpin (October 2015)
Images © Aurélien Mole
Courtesy of CRAC Alsace - Centre Rhénan d'Art Contemporain, Altkirch
The exhibition was supported by Camões, I.P. – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, Portugal
September 19 and 20, 2015, The Museum as Performance Cicle, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal
Programme of performances curated by Cristina Grande, Ricardo Nicolau and Pedro Rocha
"Cantina—Máquina" [Canteen—Machine], 2015
Musa paradisiaca with Diogo Cavaleiro and Tomás Fonseca
"Canteen—Machine" is an installation composed by two wood and steel tables covered by burel, permanently displaying two ceramic objects, the ‘Regulator’ and the ‘Parallel’, later duplicated in bread, to be presented and eaten in two separated sessions (meals), served on the tables.
Both objects are based in two mechanical components of the steam machine Joseph Farcot (french model of the late 19th century), vital for its operational health and, as we suspect, protagonists of its sexual potential — the ‘Regulator’, responsible for the steam pressure control, feeding the machine and the ‘Paralell’, responsible for the energy transmission along the machine by performing constant round trips.
As sacrifices, each of these sessions (meals) constitutes a therapeutic action of protection agains external agents, that don’t belong directly to this stage. Joseph Farcot, as a sleeping beast-body is here presented by its force through the robbery of its own forms.
Images © Filipe Braga
Courtesy of Fundação de Serralves, Porto
April 18 — September 6, 2015, The Coming Museum, Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Évora, Portugal
Group show curated by Filipa Oliveira
"Cantina—Cantina" [Canteen—Canteen], 2015 Musa paradisiaca with Alice Pinto, Bárbara Leal, Diogo Cavaleiro, Maria Quaresma, Pilar Reis and Tomás Fonseca
“Come-corais” [Coral-eater], 2015 Musa paradisiaca with Tomé Coelho
"In the installation "Cantina" (2015) [Canteen], created for this exhibition, Musa paradisiaca starts a new line of thoughts and work focused on an idea of meal-space that explores the sharing of the creative act to its limits. The entire installation is a complex and multifaced collaboration produced by the Grupo de Estudos Aplicados (Group of Applied Studies), created as a partnership between Alice Mantas, Bárbara Leal, Diogo Cavaleiro, Maria Quaresma, Pila Farrajota and Tomás Fonseca (a group of students from the Escola Secundária Artística António Arroio, in Lisbon), the artist and poet António Poppe, the sculptor Tomé Coelho, the bakers Ernesto Marujo and António Caldeira, and myself, as the project's curator.
In the "Cantina" [Canteen] the meal is appreciated as a social, mental, or spiritual digestive process, and seen in the perspective of the food (bread) and of the digestive organ (the stomach): a stomach-thought. The tables are set with bread-objects and other utilitarian shapes, evocative of the actions and devices usually associated with eating: a pot, a keg, a mixing bowl, a jar and a serving plate. The meal-installation is the cellebration of an encounter that is also an offering: everything is shared, including the food. The ceremonial table transforms into an inviting table that is open to the community, just like the Fórum. The exhibition room is a cantina, a manifestation of the timeless space and procedures we use to share and be together.
As we enter this canteen, we are received by the "Come-corais" (2015) [Coral-Eater], a full scale figure that results of the conjugation of several materials and voices, a collective construction that extends its arms towards us both as a beggar and as giver of gifts."
Filipa Oliveira (September 2015)
Images © Bruno Lopes
Courtesy of Fórum Eugénio de Almeida, Évora
March 24 — May 9, 2015, Le lynx ne connaît pas de frontières, Fondation d'Entreprise Ricard, Paris, France
Group show curated by Joana Neves
"(...) Fernando Calhau, Joana Escoval, OteloFabião, Ângela Ferreira, André Figueiredo, Carla Filipe, Igor Jesus, Musa paradisiaca, Oficina Arara, and Diogo Pimentão are artists of different generations with whom a dialogue is being ushered in around this desire for universalism for which abstraction and modernism offer an ideal solution; tradition (the family we have and the one we form) and idiosyncrasy as constructive desire.
The exhibition’s title itself comes from a conversation with a duo of Portuguese artists, Francisco Queimadela and Mariana Caló, about the video installation titled Efeito Orla (2013), whose premise was to set out in search of testimony about the last appearances of the lynx in the Malcata mountain range in Portugal. This mythical creature is not only absent in the film, but also in the region: it is in the process of disappearing.
I don’t know if Braidotti was thinking about animals when she wrote the first sentence of her latest book, but there is undoubtedly a dialectic that is established between these two species, man and lynx, which, at a given moment, have suffered the consequences of belonging, each in their own way, and together, to the territory bounded by Portugal’s borders."
*“Not all of us can say, with any degree of certainty, that we have always been human, or that we are only that”; Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman, Cambridge, 2013.
Joana Neves (March 2015)
Images © Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris
"Musa paradisiaca and the Principle of Restoration:
As a “practical philosophy” seeking the invention of a cult and a community, (Musa paradisiaca) follows specific procedures and an ethics of observation towards the object in the symbolic space of art, deliberately mixing the artistic practice, its discourse and the energy associated to the production of thought. Thereby, a sensuality is enhanced, defined by a polivocal contribute of the invited narrators which establishes a parallel dialog defined by the stories of those forms and the materials under discussion.
Departing from the idea of a stomach-thought, as the core of the plot, the project presented in the context of the RAUM platform introduces a new dimension in this conversational and experimental process, brought by the opening, through the anonymity of its participants, to the discourse of the unknown narrator. Within the system of a non a priori controllable network of participants, dependent as it is of the natural and concrete temporality of the web reality, another stage of collaboration is opened, challenging RAUM’s visitors to discuss a “thought” that will not only literally, but also in analogy, pass through the “stomach” and the “digestion” process. These “thoughts” accomplish a sort of dissection, revealed in the truth of those “guts”, simultaneously obscure and transparent, especially when observed in the raw analysis of the sediment of a conversation sustained by the statement “if all may be eaten, all may be thought through the stomach”.
The proposal therefore designed as a Principle of Restoration, further assumes the status of a “first supper” while acting as a double magic of attraction, both by the act of eating together and by the challenge of the meanings in the physical and metaphorical exploration of the meal exercise. Bread will be the “object”, the element of circulation, in the real or symbolic realm, between all the participants, performing that partition, that narrative and communitarian interaction. The thought will rise from this concrete digestion seeking the definition of a formative context, within the progressive integration of the primordial food and the diverse discursive contributions it has inspired. The final conclusion is naturally dependent on either, the appetite, or the boredom of those who meet the challenge of this unique table."
David Santos (March 2015)
March 14 — May 16, 2015, El buen caligrama, The Goma Gallery, Madrid, Spain
Group show curated by Bruno Leitão
(also calligramme; from French, from Greek kallos beauty + gramma letter)
1. A word or piece of text in which the design and layout of the letters creates a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves
The fact that the term “disambiguation” exists is proof in itself that language is naturally ambiguous. This ambiguity gives rise to misunderstandings but also to poetic potential. And poetic potential in turn engenders the possibility of debating problematics which are difficult to express or to define. The artists showcased in this exhibition make the most of the incongruity of how something so precise can at once be so open.
The Good Calligram explores the power of language in written, oral or coded form within the visual arts. The artists engage with dilemmas of translation, repetition or coding as mechanisms to address questions pertaining to narration, self-referentiality, politics and the social.
(...) The members of Musa Paradisiaca start out by dialoguing with each another and then with other entities in order to form a working group with a linguistic remit. Their area of research embraces various disciplines and they reveal themselves in manifold voices that compose a personal intelligible universe."
Bruno Leitão (March 2015)
Images © The Goma Gallery, Madrid
November 22, 2014 — March 14, 2015, Dan Gunn Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Session with Heidi Ballet, March 7, 2015
There was a man who wanted every woman he saw.
One day, a sorceress came, leading the man to an insane desire.
She advised him not to pursue his will — it would be too dangerous to be with her.
But he did not listen.
This show is based on a story we have heard about a sorceress and a man.
The story describes an impossible desire and a vanishing soul. Trapped between two worlds, we hear a final calling:
“Come back Sir, you’re not from that world / Please, come back Sir, you’re from this world”.
Images © Dan Gunn Gallery, Berlin
June 19 — September 21, 2014, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France
Curated by Filipa Oliveira and Elfi Turpin
"(…) The film commissioned for this exhibition — Ecstasy and Eden — narrates a symbiotic moment that unifies both plants and machine in what the artists call an energetic moment and is particularly focused on a line of thinking about mechanics as a specific way of questioning the relation between man and nature. The film's soundtrack is entirely made out of bruitage — in collaboration with the artist and poet António Poppe — as an attempt to create a mechanical language. This language, operating as an extension of the human body, is produced as pure act of ventriloquism, in the sense that it brings life into the inanimate characters, both machine and plants. Alongside the film, three sculptures are presented. They are copies of reality and realities in themselves. They are simultaneously objects and characters the ventriloquize a narrative a narrative together."
Filipa Oliveira and Elfi Turpin in "Der Leone Have Sept Cabeças" publication (June 2014)
Images © Aurélien Mole
Courtesy of CRAC Alsace - Centre Rhénan d'Art Contemporain, Altkirch
May 16 — June 28, 2014, 3+1 Contemporary Art, Lisbon, Portugal
In "Flowers’ audition" and "Machines’ audition", Musa paradisiaca presents two sets of objects, assembled in two distinct families, although related to one another. Each cosmology of the machines and the flowers creates a point of view, while rescuing the qualities of each object and opening them up for discussion. Which qualities does each object have and how do these qualities inform the points of view presented? Which transformation operates each object in the group which it belongs to and how does it change by belonging to each of the groups? Machines and flowers are two limits of the same problem: the need to fulfill requirement between shapes or the necessity of the forms that is required, subscribing in conjunction. Each group has its own signature and each of these signatures reveals its mode of existence. Flowers’ audition, existed as a parallel exhibition to Machines’ audition, presented at Kunsthalle Lissabon between May 10 and June 28, 2014.
Images © João Ferro Martins
Courtesy of 3+1 Contemporary Art, Lisbon
May 10 — June 28, 2014, Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Luís Silva and João Mourão
In "Flowers’ audition" and "Machines’ audition", Musa paradisiaca presents two sets of objects, gathered as cosmologies in two distinct, although related, families. Assembled under the alternating viewpoints of both machines and flowers, the two cosmologies rescue the features of each object, offering them up for discussion. What attributes does each object possess and in what way do these attributes inform the viewpoints presented by the objects? What kind of transformation is enacted by the object in the group it belongs to and in what way is the object changed by belonging to each of the groups? Machines and flowers embody two limits of the same problem: the need for adequacy between forms or the need of adequate forms that sign together as a group. Each group impresses a unique signature and with each signature, reveals its mode of existence. Machines’ audition was presented together with the exhibition Flowers’ audition, at 3+1 Contemporary Art, also in Lisbon, from May 16 to June 28, 2014.
Images © Bruno Lopes
Courtesy of Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon
February 18, 2014, Palácio Foz, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Pedro Lapa and Sofia Nunes
"Comissão de almas" [Souls' commission], 2013, double slide projection synchronized with audio track, dur. 15' Musa paradisiaca with Henry Cronje, Maria Filomena Molder, Nicolau Lavres and João Mota
"(…) "Comissão de almas" [Souls’ commission], 2013, [is] a tale that recovers orality as a practice, nowadays almost obsolete, to operate from the testimony. The structure of the tale consists of different phrases played by a sound track synchronized with a projection of hand-painted slides. The different testimonies were captured in conversations occurring in distinct times and spaces from 7 characters (Captain, Guide, Eater, Infiltrate, Seer and Vigilant). Each phrase raises a specific reflection on a peculiarity of life. Together they all arise as displaced references forming a context, since some of the phrases appear to mention different geographies and experiential habits and life forms (…).
The projected images that accompany the tale much help to clarify each phrase-example, as in the case of the tortoise/footballer or of the fish, while reinforcing its ambiguity and enigma, as in the lines or points that define semi-figures. The visual layout introduces therefore an add of depth which is, in turn, deepened by the effect of palimpsest generated by the projection’s support, a still life by Frank Snyders, from which emerges a scene populated by food and animals.
"Comissão de almas" [Souls’ commission] produces a community of ideas and images articulated in their uniqueness through various modes while refuting the institution of a major sign.”
Pedro Lapa and Sofia Nunes (February 2014)
This event was commissioned by Plataforma LX with the support of EDP Foundation.
December 13, 2013 — March 23, 2014, EDP Foundation Gallery, Porto, Portugal
Curated by Filipa Oliveira, João Pinharanda and Sérgio Mah
"FILIPA OLIVEIRA: In the sixteenth century, a text by Baltasar Dias — The Tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua and the Emperor Charlemagne — was brought to São Tomé [and Príncipe]. This work later came to form the basis of (…) the Tchiloli. In "Cena de caça" [Hunting scene], Musa paradisiaca appropriate a monologue from the play which is also (…) a prayer in which the actor dons the skin of a dying man. The belief that death was close by in this scene and the danger in which this places the actor caused it to be banned. Caustrino Alcântara, a São Tomé linguist and expert, is invited to recite the banned monologue. He chooses the place and, drunk on palm wine, moves closer to death. (…)
MUSA PARADISIACA: (…) In fact, we don't know yet who the priest is in this exorcism, as the three of us call it. We only know that we needed someone to do it and someone to watch it. (…) Ultimately, the film restores a feeling of this prayer, chaining it to make it personal. Only Caustrino, who knew the original version (…) could do it. (…) There is a default restoration of the words of the dying person, which are mixed up with those of Caustrino."
Filipa Oliveira and Musa paradisiaca in "Prémio EDP Novos Artistas - Fundação EDP" catalogue (December 2013)
November 14, 2013, Performance Cicle, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation's CAM – Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Isabel Carlos and Rita Fabiana
"Como se apanha um fugitivo" [How do you catch a fugitive], 2013 - Musa paradisiaca with Tomé Coelho, among other unidentified interveners
"Depending on the situation, in order to imprison someone one needs the police – at the very least – to search for the fugitive, round him up and arrest him. In the olden days when "fugitives" were to be apprehended, during the colonial period, there would be holes opened up in the road, in the very middle, in order to catch pigs, and when one went after the fugitives they would fall into the holes and were caught that way. Perhaps in this way, right."
(Nicolau Lavres, Santo António, Príncipe Island, August 19, 2013).
Two commented sessions, open to public participation, held in order to define a character based on the objects made by Tomé Coelho, a sculptor from São Tomé and Príncipe.
Images © Paulo Costa
Vídeo © Resize - Pedro Reis, Rodrigo Peixoto, Tiago Sousa
Courtesy of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
June 2013, Chantiers d'Europe, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR.
Curated by Vittoria Matarrese
With: Aldo Daiu, Amal Amgaad, Benjamin Descamps, Camille Sabatier, Casimir Lejeune, Eduardo Guerra, Francisco Amoedo Pinto, Francisco Reis, June Allen, Justine Figueiredo, Lorraine Remise, Miguel Ferrão, Robin Alfing, Salma Mkab and Virginie Gallé
"The Cenacle had a servant. I don't know on behalf of what rhetoric image he was known as Milky Way. This man came from the hoods of Setúbal. He was strong, he was thick and athletic. This was said to him: 'A hard, violent, but glorious work is awaiting for you.' And, with a great ancient integrity, he answered: 'I am ready'." (Ramalho Ortigão  in As Farpas, vol. 1, Círculo de Leitores, Lisboa, 1988)
In two public sessions based on dialogue and drawing, a groups of volunteers, invited through an Open Call, answered one question per day, in order to offer their solutions to the Milky Way's problems.
Images © Corinne Janier Colombe
Courtesy of Palais de Tokyo, Paris
May 2013, Apesar de tudo, nunca se sentia só ou triste, o futuro fazia-lhe companhia ou Le petit Lenormand, Vera Cortês Art Agency, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Luís Silva
"Batalhão de figuras" [Army of figures], 2012-
11 silver prints, b/w, hand-painted, 25 x 20cm
Images © Bruno Lopes
Courtesy of Vera Cortês Art Agency, Lisbon
April 2013, Sala Luís de Pina - Cinemateca Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal
+ May / July 2013, The Perpetual Interview, Primeira Avenida, Porto, Portugal
Curated by Ricardo Nicolau and Filipa Loureiro (Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art)
"Auto da emulação" [Emulation play], 2013
Slide projection synchronized with audio track, dur.14'
With: Diogo Silva, José Luiz Moreira, João Vicente, Leonor Carvalho and Rita Nazaré
As in an hypnotism session, led by a dominant voice, a group of characters links together different ways of relating to belief, as a common problem. The alternating viewpoints promote a myriad of arguments about faith, superstition and knowledge. Although, this distinction doesn't promote a clear distance among all.
Video © Susana Pomba
October 2012 / February 2013, Tem calma o teu país está a desaparecer, ZDB Gallery, Lisbon, PT.
Curated by Natxo Checa
"O falante e o espírito" [The talker and the spirit], 2012
Slide projection synchronized with audio track, dur. 14'
"The talker and the spirit" is a dialogue between three men that assume, one at a time, the roles of the talker and the spirit. The talker is also the one who invokes the spirit. The spirit is a guest but also an intruder. In this particular encounter, the dialogue is centered in the attempt to distinguish belief from conviction and dependence from affections.
Based on an encounter between Eduardo Guerra, Miguel Ferrão and Marco Pasi, in April 2012, at Curators' Lab in Guimarães - European Capital of Culture, curated by Lígia Afonso.
September 2012, Old School #14, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Susana Pomba
"Tiro à gota" [Drop shooting], 2012
Slide projection with audio track, dur. 10'
Drops, liquid and light; bullets, solid projectiles. Shoot at the drop is a project for hunting shapeless objects. A set of projected drawings, a series of hovering ideas and an attempt to fix a thought in action.
Between March 28 and April 4 of 2012, Musa paradisiaca gathered in Assembly with Cacilda Coelho, Carlos Moreira, Fernando Soares, Hugo Soares, Lígia Afonso, Luísa Seixas and Marco Pasi, at Curator's Lab in Guimarães - European Capital of Culture, curated by Lígia Afonso.
April 2012, Curator's Lab — Guimarães European Capital of Culture, Fábrica Asa, Guimarães, Portugal
Curated by Lígia Afonso and Gabriela Vaz-Pinheiro
With: Cacilda Coelho, Carlos Moreira, Eduardo Guerra, Fernando Soares, Hugo Soares, Jonathan Saldanha, Mafalda Nunes, Marco Pasi and Miguel Ferrão, participants at the "Assemblies" and "Cycle of Staged Conferences", public events presented by Musa paradisiaca at Curators' Lab in Guimarães - European Capital of Culture.
Images © João Covita / Luisa Seixas
November 2011, Galeria Quadrum, Lisbon, Portugal
Curated by Lígia Afonso and Catarina Rosendo
Staged reading by João Vicente.
Giant head kindly provided by Clube Municipal e Recreativo Rerizense.
Images © Pedro Ferreira